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Fodder Census Shows Adequate Fodder Stocks

13 September 2013
Teagasc

IRELAND - A fodder census survey has shown that farmers have enough silage and hay for a 140 day feeding period this winter. The survey of 1,240 farmers showed that there is an overall average surplus of eight per cent across the country.

The survey was carried out in the week commencing 1 September by Teagasc and other organisations participating in the Inter Agency Fodder Committee.

While overall the survey indicates that there are adequate fodder stocks in the country, it found that one in five farmers had a deficit. On the farms with a deficit, this shortage is 19 per cent on average. The survey showed that 22 per cent of farmers intend to sell some livestock to balance their feed budget this autumn

Chairman of the interagency fodder committee, Dr Tom Kelly of Teagasc said that through the commercial market place, farmers are redistributing the fodder to where the livestock are, and redistributing the livestock to where the fodder is. He said that with prudent management of existing fodder stocks along with appropriate supplementation with concentrate feeds farmers are well positioned to come through this winter, pointing out that higher quality silage and hay has been saved compared to last year.

This second fodder census has shown a major improvement in rebuilding fodder stocks. An earlier survey in the first week of July had shown an overall deficit of 12 per cent with two thirds of farmers facing a deficit. Early in the year, farmers, right around the country, faced fodder shortages due to the poor weather in the autumn of 2012 and the late spring of 2013.

Teagasc Nutritionist Dr Siobhan Kavanagh said: "Grass growth over the last six weeks has been good and the survey has shown that 72 per cent of farmers said they had a ‘good’ supply of grass going into the autumn grazing period, with a further 28 per cent saying they have ‘normal’ levels of grass available in fields. Extending the grazing season for as long as possible, well into the autumn, is critical to shortening the overall winter feeding period."

Grass production data from Pasture Base Ireland, the Teagasc national grassland database, has recorded year to date average Dry Matter production of 9.0 tonnes DM per hectare on approximately 40 dairy, beef and sheep farms across 14 counties. Annual dry matter production across farms has ranged from 12.8 t DM/ha to 6 t DM/ha.

Teagasc Grassland researcher Michael O Donovan said: "Most farms have extended their grazing rotation. Farms on drier soils which have received little rainfall in the past three weeks are recording lower grass growth and are now beginning to supplement but are holding rotation. Farms on heavier soils are recording high growth rates."

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