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One Third of Farmers are Short of Silage this Winter

Nearly one third of farmers surveyed are short of silage this winter, according to a Teagasc survey carried out in December 2012.

In the survey of 158 farmers, 30% said that they expected to be short of silage for their livestock this winter. On average, the deficit identified on these farms was 17% of their requirements.

The preference for dealing with the shortage is to purchase meal. This action is being taken by 45% of those surveyed. One quarter of farmers listed their preference to purchase silage or other forages, while 16% said they planned to sell livestock. Seven per cent plan to get livestock out to grass early next spring and 5 per cent plan to purchase straw.

Commenting on the results of the survey Teagasc Nutritionist Siobhan Kavanagh said: “Seven out of ten of those surveyed have completed a feed budget. Its important that all farmers do an assessment of their feed requirements now, as early identification of a deficit will leave more options open to take corrective action. We would also urge all farmers to test the quality of their silage. Just one in five have tested their silage to identify the additional concentrate supplementation required to maintain animal performance. “

The survey also showed that farmers paid on average €32 per tonne for pit silage and €28 per tonne for baled silage. Meal prices ranged from €235 per tonne to €365 per tonne. The expected turnout date to grass for those surveyed is 9th March 2013. Teagasc are advising that when doing a feed budget for the spring, make sure there is a buffer to allow for bad weather or a late spring.

Buying meals is a preferable option, relative to buying silage of very poor quality, according to Teagasc. Siobhan Kavanagh advised farmers to talk to their Teagasc adviser about the relative value of different feed options before investing. Always check silage quality before purchase. Baled silage at 65 DMD is worth approximately €28 / bale, when barley is costing €280 per tonne.