A survey of fodder stocks reveals a deeply worrying scenario for farmers in the west and northwest as Christmas approaches.

Many farmers only have enough fodder to get to March but they won’t get their animals out to grass before May.

This is an absolute disgrace that nothing is been done

The survey of 400 farmers carried out by Teagasc indicates that 85% of them are short of fodder. The problems are most severe in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal, where two-thirds of farmers have only half the fodder they need for the winter.

“We’re in a fodder crisis here in this part of the country and the minister needs to accept that,” Leitrim suckler farmer and IFA representative Pat Gilhooly said after the first meeting of the fodder taskforce on Monday.

The ICMSA and the ICSA have also expressed frustration with the Department of Agriculture over its failure to deliver concrete help for farmers before Christmas.

Co Donegal suckler farmer Lawrence McManus told an ICSA meeting in Cavan on Tuesday: “We need help and help fast.

“This is an absolute disgrace that nothing is been done,” he said.

ICMSA’s newly elected deputy president Lorcan McCabe has also slammed the Department, describing the fodder action group meeting as a “ticking the box exercise”.

Farmers surveyed by the Irish Farmers Journal this week highlighted rising prices for fodder as a serious problem.

They quoted bales of silage being sold for €30 each, with straw trading for €34/bale.

The straw situation is so bleak that farmers have been forced to bed cattle with rushes.

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Fodder shortage hits 85% of farmers in northwest

Hundreds of bales of silage and hay donated

Full coverage of the fodder crisis