A sizeable cohort of dairy and beef farmers who are extremely tight on silage are keeping a floor on fodder prices, feed traders maintained.

With stocks of pit silage depleting rapidly, farmers who are struggling to get animals out on grass are purchasing increasing quantities of baled silage, fodder beet and concentrate feed.

Although Teagasc insists that there are ample stocks of feed in the country, the latest farmer survey confirms that 29% of drystock farmers had just enough feed for 10 days or less.

Meanwhile, 47% of dairy farmers have cows housed full time, with 39% having little or no grazing done yet.

One feed trader in south Munster reported a massive lift in fodder beet sales to dairy farmers this spring.

He said chopped beet was costing farmers up to €80/t delivered, while washed beet was priced at €70/t.

The same trader was selling 4x4 bales of haylage for €50, while silage was generally making around €45 for 4x4 bales – although farmers with stocks are increasingly reluctant to sell.

Straw importer John Fearon said supplies were proving more and more difficult to source in England.

Fearon, who has bases in Chester and on the Louth-Armagh border, said imported barley and wheaten straw was costing €270/t to €280/t delivered onto Irish farms.

Traders into the west claimed that demand was tailing off following the improvement in local weather conditions over the last week.

In terms of concentrate feed sales, compounders’ sales during March were close to the record levels of last year.

Sales in March 2023 were 15% to 20% ahead of 2022.