Winter is the most expensive time on livestock farms with feed costs at their highest combined with associated costs such as increased labour, feed delivery costs through to machinery and energy usage increases. However, on the majority of farms, there is no getting away from at least some indoor winter feed period.

Farmers have endured higher input costs all year but it is from now on the real squeeze will be felt. Feed costs will account for much of this and it effects nearly all livestock production systems.

Concentrate prices are running €100/t to €120/t ahead of this time last year. If we look back to 2020 levels, ration prices have increased by over €150/t or almost 60% in the space of two years. Silage costs have risen by 35% compared to last winter. These figures highlight the challenges faced on livestock farms over the next six months.

While costs have increased, the show must go on.

Kieran Mailey outlines the importance of feeding replacement heifers sufficiently to hit bulling weights next summer while Aidan Brennan looks at what dairy farmers heading into this winter with fodder shortages can do to alleviate the problem.

There is always huge interest from farmers in winter feeding, be it silage and concentrates or alternative forages and outwintering.

We asked farmers to send in their queries and over the last week the livestock team has been inundated with questions and comments from farmers.

Here, I look at some of the most common queries sent in and for those whose questions aren’t answered here, there will be further articles on winter feeding queries online on our website in the coming days.