Thirty per cent of drystock farms and 27% of dairy farmers are reporting significant fodder deficits, the National Fodder and Food Security Committee heard on Monday.

Teagasc completed a fodder survey last month, with 498 valid responses from farmers.

The survey found that overall average fodder stocks after first-cut silage stand at 60% for dairy farms and 64% for drystock farms.

The target for feed on hand after first cut is 70% for dairy farms and 77% for drystock farms.

Teagasc told the meeting that planned second cuts will meet fodder budgets on 68% of drystock farms and 58% of dairy farms.

Between 32 and 42% of farms need to act to secure additional fodder supplies beyond second cut crops.

"The data indicates an emerging winter feed deficit that necessitates immediate action on affected farms," said head of dairy knowledge transfer at Teagasc Joe Patton.

"Farmers need to plan for third cuts and secure additional feed based on their own fodder budgets,” he said.


Of the farmers who said they were experiencing a deficit, 30% of drystock farmers said that the deficit would create cash flow issues on farms. 12% of these farmers said that credit will be needed.

Some 38% of dairy farmers said they expect a cashflow issue arising from the fodder shortage. As was the case in the drystock sector, 12% said they will need credit as a result.


Farmers are advised to complete a fodder budget to see what their winter feed requirements are like and to assess year to date fertiliser usage against their allowances.

Farmers should then plan their applications of fertilisers for the rest of the year.

Teagasc said that farmers should address gaps in winter feed budgets through maximising fodder production in second and third cuts.

They are also advised to book straw early.

Tillage update

Teagasc crops specialist Shay Phelan provided an update on the tillage crop situation.

Despite the challenging weather conditions this year to date, winter barley harvest is set to begin within the next week, he said, with winter barley and wheat crops showing significant variability making yield predictions difficult at this point.

“Spring crops are expected to perform better than last year. However, the potential risks and challenges of a late harvesting season following the late spring sowing remain in place that could affect the yield and quality of both grain and straw,” Teagasc said.


The overall outlook for straw availability is positive compared to 2023, the committee heard.

Straw yields are expected to be better in 2024. However, given the challenges seen last year and the very low level of straw stocks carried over, livestock farmers are advised to book straw supplies early with tillage farmers to secure supply in good time.