Variations in feed quality
Early analysis of silage stocks has shown up huge variations in the quality of fodder in farmers' yards heading into the winter.
Protein levels from 6.5pc to 16.9pc have been found in silage samples sent to the FBA laboratory in Cappoquinn, Co Waterford.
Dry matter digestibility figures have also shown up major variations, with samples ranging from 54.4pc to 75pc.
Conor Butler from FBA labs said that while too few samples had been tested to form an opinion of the national silage crop, early analysis had shown up some very poor feed stocks.
In an attempt to address the fodder shortage problems, Teagasc is to outline options at a series of weather crisis clinics to take place later this week.
All Teagasc advisory offices will open 11am-1pm for all dairy farmers.
The offices will also open from 2-4pm on Thursday, September 6.
Both group and one-to-one advice sessions will be available.
Speaking in advance of the clinics, Tom O'Dwyer, Teagasc dairy specialist, said this was not the first time that farmers were facing a shortage of winter fodder.
"They dealt with a similar situation in 2009 and farmers will adapt again this year.
"However, the big difference this year is that the cost of feeding stock will be a lot higher, with concentrates now costing over €300/t," he said.
George Ramsbottom from Teagasc said the first step was to establish the size of the deficit.
"If you have at least half of the fodder you need, then you should only buy more fodder if it represents good value for money.
"At current feed prices, that's up to €28 per round bale of average quality grass silage delivered or half that for good quality barley straw," he said.
"If it's costing more than that then buying concentrates makes more sense.
"Where only half the normal quantity of good quality silage is available, then feed 3kg of meal to dry dairy cows and 2kg to weanlings to make up the difference."
- Caitriona Murphy