Teagasc - the national body advisory and training services to the agriculture industry - has given helpful tips for Kilkenny farmers who are short on fodder:
Click here for a full report on the fodder crisis in Kilkenny.
1. Farmers need to be keeping up to around 50% of their animals diet as forage. Those that have some silage or hay; they can stretch that out with fodder stretcher rations like palm kernel, soya hulls or beat pulp.
2. Grass growth is slow so all Kilkenny farmers should take every opportunity to get fertilising their land and get grass growing as soon as possible.
3. Farmers should make sure they have adequate feed space for all livestock and should rotate around while feeding the remainder of their animals if it’s necessary.
4. They should keep the feed requirements of three to four kilos in the morning and three to four kilos in the evening. Farmers don’t want cows losing too much condition ahead of breading season.
5. Prioritise the highest quality silage to milking cows.
6. Good quality feed straw is an (1-2kg) is an option to increase diet fibre where silage is scarce.
DRY COWS AND YOUNG STOCK
1. Put in a lot of meal to stretch out the fodder. Dry cows can be fed 2-3kg of straw plus 2-3kg of meal along with restricted silage. This will have no negative effect on calving difficulty.
2. Dairy heifers need to be consuming at least 2.1% of liveweight (6.5+ kg dry matter) of high quality feed - supplement with 2kg of high protein concentrate if short on forage.
1. Aim to have at least 1.5 weeks’ silage reserve on hand by late April. If this is unlikely, it is best to take action now to stretch supplies. A 30% deficit in silage can be managed by feeding extra concentrate. Above this, forage should be purchased.
GRASS AND FERTILISER
1. The aim is to have 70 units of Nitrogen per acre out by early April. Ground conditions have picked up for most parts so this should be possible.
2. Farmers are advised that it may take until at least April 20 before there is enough grass to start the second grazing round.