The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine released a technical note on Friday evening regarding the implementation of the 15% crude protein concentrate limit applicable from 15 April to 30 September.

The Department briefing stated that “the requirement does not apply where cattle are not outdoors full-time at grass. Given the exceptional weather conditions this year, Department inspectors will be especially conscious of local weather and soil conditions and recognise that, in certain parts of the country, dairy cows and adult cattle may not be at grass full-time in the coming weeks”.

The statement added that: “Even in situations where cattle are at grass full-time, the Department has always, and will continue to allow for situations where a higher level of crude protein is required in concentrates to maintain animal welfare or to meet the animal’s dietary needs.”

In such circumstances, the Department explains that, in the case of an inspection, it will accept written confirmation from the feed supplier, a recognised ruminant nutritionist, or an accredited Farm Advisory Service (FAS) adviser stating that a higher level of crude protein is required.

Records required

Farmers should note that “records of purchased feed should include the quantities and types of concentrate feed, including crude protein content, fed to livestock on the holding. Under SI 113 of 2022, these records should be maintained for five years and made available for inspection if requested”.

The crude protein limit has been in place since 2021 with the aim of reducing nitrogen surpluses during the main grazing season when at such time good-quality grass provides adequate crude protein for adult cattle. The requirement applies to concentrates fed to dairy cows and other cattle aged over two years, at grass from 15 April to 30 September.

The technical note will be welcomed by farmers and the wider industry with reports indicating a high level of queries received in recent days by feed merchants / suppliers, advisers etc. The Department’s technical note acknowledged concerns related to adverse weather citing “the Department is acutely aware of the challenges that farmers are facing due to the continued inclement weather conditions, and therefore wish to clarify the options available to farmers within the current regulatory requirements as requested at the Fodder and Feed Security meeting”.