There should be another window for silage harvesting this week, allowing livestock farmers to get second cut baled or ensiled in the clamp.

Once second cut is finished up, every farmer should do a quick fodder budget to see where they stand with winter forage reserves.

Identifying a silage deficit before the end of August gives more options to consider.

A small area can be closed off for a third cut of bales, stores and cull cows can be sold earlier than planned or silage can be purchased before housing starts.


A fodder budget can be carried out online or completed manually by measuring the length, width and average height of the clamp in metres.

Multiply the three measurements to get cubic capacity. Multiply this figure by 0.65 to get the tonnage of grass in freshweight, assuming silage is between 25% and 30% dry matter.

Count any round bales and multiply by 0.85 to get the tonnage, then add to the pit silage. Both figures combined gives the tonnage of silage on farm.

Cattle demand

Next, work out how much forage cattle will eat over a typical winter on farm. Dry spring-calving cows will eat 1t to 1.2t of silage every month. A lactating cow will eat 1.5t to 1.6t each month.

Weanlings and light stores will eat 0.6t to 0.75t per month, rising to 0.9t for finishing cattle. Add in an extra month for safety against early housing or a late spring turnout.


If fodder stocks exceed cattle demand, there is enough forage to last until turnout. But if demand exceeds fodder reserves, then take steps to make up the shortfall.

Read more

In pictures: exporters keep solid floor in Skibbereen weanling sale.

In pictures: Tullamore Show 2023