Concerns over the cost and availability of winter fodder have resulted in suckler farmers being slow to replace cull cows with in-calf heifers.

Mart managers are reporting that farmers are much slower to restock herds, preferring to hold off until spring.

Stephen Hannon of Mohill Mart said: “There are big numbers of cows moving – not that much different to last year – but they are not being replaced.

“It’s a fear of fodder going into the winter,” he added. “The suckler herd is under pressure in this area and it’s climate-related rather than price-related.”

Manorhamilton Mart manager Ivan Moffitt added: “Normally they would be selling cows and replacing them with in-calf heifers but they are not all doing that.”

Fodder costs

Fodder costs are variable across the country, with one agent selling in Longford, Leitrim and neighbouring counties quoting €40 for a round bale delivered and €4.50 for small squares.

A 4x4 round bale of wheaten straw delivered is quoted at €30 to €31, while an 8x4x3 bale of barley straw for feeding is at €50/bale delivered.

In Cavan, good quality silage is being bought at €25/bale while mediocre quality silage is making €20/bale. Round bales of hay are selling at €35 delivered on a long-haul basis, while straw delivered from the southeast is €22/bale.

In Galway, good quality silage bales left over from 2016 recently sold for €18/bale, while top-quality after-grass from reseeded land sold for €22 per bale between neighbours.

In Kildare, silage is selling for €20 to €27/bale ex-yard, with average quality hay making €15 to €20 and very good hay making €25 to €30. Straw is selling for €17 to €18 ex-yard.

In Limerick, one farmer sold 100 bales at €22 for a 4x4 round bale, with the buyer planning to sell them at €30 delivered to Sligo. Second-cut silage was sold at €30 for 4x4 rounds. Straw is making €25 for 4x4 rounds.

Up north, round bales of silage are making £35 to £40, with reports of £50/t in strong dairying regions.

Round bales of straw are making £20-£22, while 8x4x4 squares are making £80 to £100. Hay is making £40/bale.

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