A series of response meetings will take place in the north-west to help farmers deal with the feared fodder shortage this winter.

The prolonged wet weather is expected to result in a shortage of fodder or poor quality silage on many farms across the province.

College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has organised a series of farmer meetings in the west and north of Northern Ireland to provide guidance on farmers on how best to manage feeding over the coming months.

Expert advice

Senior technologists will explain how to assess fodder stocks and review the options to reduce stock or replacing fodder with alternative feeds. They will look at the relative value of purchased fodder and feed, and the effect this may have on financial margins.

A vet will also outline the likely health and welfare issues that may arise and the best way to prevent these.

Rural Support will also be present at all the events to outline the services and support they can provide to farmers affected by the prolonged wet weather.

The meetings will take place at 7:30pm at the following venues:

  • Monday, November 20 in the Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh, Co. Tyrone;
  • Thursday, November 23 in CAFRE's Enniskillen Campus, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh;
  • Tuesday, November 28 in the Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, Co. Derry.

All farmers are welcome to attend; there is no pre-enrolment required.

'It is imperative that farmers start now'

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is encouraging farmers concerned about winter feeding to attend the workshops.

UFU president Barclay Bell said: “We have been monitoring the fodder situation closely given the localised flooding and prolonged wet weather, which has put major feeding pressure on farmers this winter.

"As a result of the weather, many farmers had to house cattle in August and struggled to get silage cut.

I suspect forage quality this year will be average enough after the first cut is taken out of the equation. It is imperative that farmers start now to best manage feeding arrangements.

“The recent short spell of good weather may have allowed some farmers to salvage fodder. However, we still don’t know the full extent of the problem across the country.

"By attending these meetings, farmers will get support to manage fodder levels but also help DAERA better understand of the situation."