Fodder Budget

17th August 2018

2018 has been a very difficult year for livestock farmers with the long winter of 2017 and the late spring meaning there was very little surplus fodder.

Fodder budget

This followed by drought conditions across most of the UK and Ireland this summer has caused a lot of concern as silage yields are down.

To see where you stand on your own farm for this winter, it is important to work out what your animals will require and what you have in your silo.

What do you need?

You can work out the amount of silage needed by using a table like the one below. Then multiply the AxBxC for each animal group. You can then add the amount needed for each animal group to get your total silage demand. Always add at least one extra month on to your winter as we cannot guarantee when spring will come next year.

Animal Type Number of Stock (A) Number of Months (B) Tons of silage needed per month (C) Silage Needed
Dairy Cows 1.6
Suckler Cows 1.4
1 Year Old Cattle 0.7
1-2 Year Old Cattle 1.3
2+ Year Old Cattle 1.3
Ewes 0.15
Total Silage Needed

What do you have?

To measure what is in your silo use the following equation-

Tonnes of grass silage = (Length (ft) X Width (ft) X Height (ft)) / 45

Tonnes of grass silage = Number of bales X 0.8

Now simply find the difference between your supply and demand to find if you have a surplus or a deficit.

What to do next?

If you find yourself short of fodder for the winter it is important to take steps now to reduce the deficit we cannot rely on an extended grazing season or an early spring. You could try some of these methods below-

  • Walk grazing paddocks and if you have any surpluses take bales out and continue to spread fertiliser to maximise growth into the autumn.
  • If silage ground is has begun to stem take silage cuts now and aim to get another cut in 4-5 weeks but test the crop for nitrogen to ensure it is fit for ensiling.
  • Could you get access to winter fodder crops such as kale or stubble turnips, this could greatly reduce the demand for silage however it is getting very late to sow these crops now.
  • Look for alternative feed stuffs under the advice of a nutritionist.
  • Supplement cattle with higher levels of concentrate however it is important not to over do this contact our nutritionists for further advice on this.
  • Look at your cash flow and speak to your bank or financial advisor on the best way to move forward.
  • Sell less productive animals or try to finish cattle quicker.
  • Try to buy forage elsewhere but consider its value compared to straights or blend.
  • Look after yourself, this has been a stressful year and it is important that you take care of yourself and speak to someone if you are finding it difficult.

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