Farmers are facing serious fodder issues this winter.
Kilkenny farmers are among almost half (46%) of dairy farmers from Leinster who have a fodder deficit of greater than 25%.
Over 400 dairy farmers attended the AIB sponsored Irish Grassland Association (IGA) Dairy Summer Tour which took place in West Cork last week. A survey of those in attendance identified that 9 in 10 dairy farmers from the Leinster area had completed a fodder budget.*
Just over 20% of those from the Leinster area had sufficient fodder reserves in place for the coming winter, which was lower than the national figure of 25%.
Of those who do not have sufficient reserves from Leinster, almost half (46%) identified that they had a deficit of greater than 25%, while just 3% identified that they had a deficit in excess of 50%.
3 in 4 farmers are currently eating into existing winter fodder supplies by feeding grass silage – slightly higher in Leinster with 4 in 5 feeding silage.
This is just one of a number of strategies being implemented on farm to deal with the current challenges. A number of supply orientated strategies are being implemented and considered on farm at present.
Nationally over 70% of farmers were feeding or planning to feed straights, while 20% of farmers identified that they were going to sow a forage crop, and a similar number suggested that they were going to purchase wholecrop/maize. And almost 50% of farmers said they were planning to sell stock to reduce demand.
From a financial perspective, over 60% of farmers from Leinster suggested that they should be able to cope with the financial impact of the drought from cash flow, while almost 40% suggested that short term bank cash flow support would be required.
Speaking after the event Chris Nolan, AIB Agri Advisor in Kilkenny said “It is encouraging that many farmers who attended the IGA Dairy Summer Tour have completed a fodder budget and are working to reduce their deficits on farm. The regional impact of the drought is highlighted in the results, with farmers from Leinster more affected that those in other parts of the country. Last weekend’s rain was very welcome. However, it will be some time before grass growth rates return to normal levels. We are encouraging our farming customers to determine how the additional costs associated with the drought are likely to affect their individual farm systems and to engage with us if support is required.”
Chris Nolan - AIB Agri Advisor Kilkenny
George Ramsbottom, IGA organising committee and Teagasc said, ‘Both of our tour hosts found themselves short of winter forage but sourced forage from outside the farm to fill the shortfall. We urge farmers across the country to establish what the winter forage situation is on their farms and where deficits are identified, to put a plan in place now rather than later in the autumn’.