Fodder crisis eases as shipments of hay and maize arrive from UK

Dairy co-ops ‘have done excellent job’ but cannot reach all farmers short of feed


The importation of truckloads of hay from the UK in recent days has helped to ease the fodder crisis on some farms but farm groups have said problems are still acute for many farmers.

Some 5,000 tonnes of hay and maize will be shipped from the UK this week by Ramsak, a supplier sourced by the IFA.

A group of private merchants has organised the shipment of a large consignment of hay from the UK, which is due to arrive in Fermoy this morning, while Glanbia is expecting the arrival of a consignment of maize on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said a lot of progress had been made over the weekend as farmers availed of imported fodder being provided by many co-ops.

She said the department’s animal welfare helpline (1850-211990) had seen an increase in calls mid-week when Mr Coveney had highlighted the helpline number but calls had fallen in recent days. Calls taken at the weekend were mostly seeking information about co-ops rather than reporting an emergency regarding malnourished animals.

Shannon Airport continued its grass-cutting operation yesterday, having agreed to a request from the IFA to move its silage cut forward to help local farmers.

Further north, the Connacht Gold Co-op received its first load of hay in Athleague, Co Roscommon, on Friday and more loads are arriving into the region this week.

Stretch stocks
The co-op has also introduced a range of low-cost supplementary feeds that will help farmers to stretch their low stocks of fodder. In recent days Glanbia Co-op announced an aid package worth €1 million to help its members. Farmers who bought animal feed from Glanbia this month will get a rebate of €25 per tonne.

Farm advisory body Teagasc has also stepped in, offering 100 bales of silage from its own research farm in Cork. The bales are being distributed to farmers in difficulty by Boherbue Co-op in north Cork. Teagasc said it had noted an improvement in grass growth at the farm in the past week.

Meanwhile, IFA president John Bryan has again called on the Department of Agriculture to extend its €1 million transport subsidy scheme on imported fodder to marts and private merchants. It is currently only open to co-ops but some marts and merchants have also been trying to source hay and silage abroad.

Mr Bryan said huge efforts were being made to source supplies of forage in the UK and elsewhere.

“The dairy co-ops have done an excellent job, but they cannot reach everybody who is short of feed,” he said.