Planning Key to Managing Tight Fodder Supplies

NFUS Scotland is assisting those Scottish farmers short of essential fodder and bedding this winter with guidance on how to make the most of short supplies.

Working with beef industry expert Basil Lowman and dairy levy body DairyCo, the Union has produced two guides for farmers on how to ensure that limited feed supplies and bedding stocks can be stretched out this winter.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller said:

“Our recent wet weather survey clearly identified how difficult it will be for many livestock keepers to make it through this winter but with a bit of planning and making the most of meagre resources, there are many positive steps producers can take.

“The survey confirmed that the poor weather has resulted in many producers having to house stock earlier than planned and the huge pressures that will bring.  Much of the fodder made is of poorer than average quality and supplies of fodder and bedding are precious.

“We know from our results that more than 80 percent of Scottish livestock farmers have lower stocks of winter feed and bedding than usual and two thirds of Scottish livestock farmers are going to have to buy additional feed and bedding this year.

“For those with lower stocks, Basil Lowman’s advice looks at the option to replace some high quality silage with straw; supplementary feeding of finishing animals to reduce days to slaughter and selling finished animals as soon as they hit the market specification.  In the spring, grass growth is key but turnout at low stocking rates as soon as ground conditions allow will also eke out fodder and bedding stocks.

“With winter forage stocks under pressure on many farms, it is vital to carry out an accurate assessment of the quantity and quality of silage stocks. DairyCo extension officer Tom Goatman has helped NFUS with some advice on how to at do this and some simple actions you can take to help to minimise waste of silage.

“Farmers should take steps now to not only assess the feed value of your silage by regularly sampling and analysis but also do the sums on exactly how much silage you have in the pit and how much you will need.

“Many farmers will already be walking their silage pits on a weekly basis to check on usage and this is a practice others should follow to avoid surprises later in the season.

“With a good knowledge of quality and quantity, it is easier to take steps to manage the winter and take action if necessary.  There are options, most will cost money, but if we are proactive and have a grasp of fodder stocks and requirements, then froward planning can be helpful.

“We will keep a close eye on how our members are faring, particularly if fodder and bedding supplies start to run out in the New Year.   If required, we can use our Group Secretary network and our Regional Managers to establish a register of those looking for feeding or fodder supplies and match them to those within our membership with stocks to spare.

“This is likely to be one of the most difficult winters faced by our livestock sector in recent times but by taking stock, considering options and planning ahead we will work our way through it.”


Contact Bob Carruth/Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4006/4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 157/12

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