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Bad weather forcing farmers to house cattle indoors

Bad weather forcing farmers to house cattle indoors

Anton McNulty

Farmers in Mayo face financial uncertainty as they struggle to make enough silage for the winter with some farmers forced to keep their cattle indoors because of the current lack of growth.
The unseasonable bad weather and heavy rainfall has prevented many farmers from entering their fields to make silage while the low temperatures has stunted growth to such an extent that farmers are taking the unprecedented step of feeding silage to cattle in July.
Daily farmer, Martin Gilvarry from Killala told The Mayo News that he was forced to house his cattle and feed them silage because of poor growth. He has already used a fortnight’s worth of his winter feed and says the problems have been compounded by the low milk prices.
“We are feeding the cattle the winter feed at the moment because of the poor growth and the quality of the grass. This is the first year this has happened. Last year was bad but we got a break and things came together but to feed the cattle in July has never happened before.
“We are hoping for a break in the weather and some heat to get some growth. I am in a better situation than a lot of lads in our area and this is a worrying time for a lot of farmers who are under stress,” he explained.
Martin said an advance in the single farm payments would be welcome to help farmers ease cash flow problems and urged co-ops not to decrease milk prices for farmers. He feared that if the current weather problems continue, farmers will have difficulty in meeting the commitments to banks and pay other bills.
The poor weather is largely due to the jet stream settling further south than usual and resulting in heavy rain and colder temperatures. With experts believing it will start moving north of Ireland, it is predicted the weather will improve in the coming weeks and according to Mayo IFA Chairman, Padraic Joyce, the good weather cannot come soon enough.
He estimated that 20 per cent of farmers in Mayo have been unable to harvest their winter fodder because of the weather and said if it continues, farmers will be in ‘dire straits’ come winter time.
“The problem for a lot of farmers is that they cannot harvest their silage because it is so wet and for those who have cut silage there isn’t sufficient growth for cattle to graze on. You can see meadows which should have been cut in June going to seed and the quality of the grass goes down ten per cent per week it has not been cut.
“There is a huge concern for farmers and you can that concern in their face when you speak to them. It is very serious and getting to crisis situation,” he told The Mayo News.
The Minister for Agriculture has told farmers that there are no finances to support farmers affected by the weather. Mr Joyce said the last time he remembered the weather being so poor was in 1986 when fodder vouchers were given to farmers and he called for a similar scheme to help farmers.

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