More than 40% of dairy farmers across the south and east of the country do not have enough fodder in stock heading into the winter.

A Teagasc survey of 570 dairy farmers also found that 10% of farmers in the east and southeast had used more than 20% of their silage and other winter feed stocks during the summer drought.

However, the national advisory body insisted that there was enough fodder in the country as a whole to meet farmer needs this winter.

The most recent Teagasc fodder survey confirms significant regional differences in feed supplies.

The BMW region – which includes Longford, Connacht and Ulster – is in the strongest position overall having been less affected by summer drought, with 88% of farmers having surplus winter feed. In contrast, 15% to 20% of farms in the midlands-east and southeast regions are at risk of significant feed shortages this winter.

“This is the cumulative outcome of a more severe summer drought combined with a lower than average feed reserve,” Teagasc’s Joe Patton explained.

The southwest is also experiencing difficulties. The survey found that 27% of dairy farms have already used 10% to 20% of their winter feed stocks, while a further 8% have used in excess of 20%.

Milk suppliers

Despite the fodder challenges just 21% of milk suppliers in the southeast indicated that they were going to sell stock early.

The figure for the midlands-east region was 27%, while 30% of dairy farmers in the southwest said they intended to offload animals earlier than normal.

Joe Patton urged farmers with clearly identified fodder shortages to take prompt action. “This includes sourcing additional fodder and reducing demand by earlier culling of lower-value stock,” he said.