Calf feed sales have risen by up to 20% year on year, according to Sean McGlynn, Commercial and Technical Manager with Co Longford-based Kiernan Milling.

“Calf numbers are well up this year,” he said.

“But farmers are also feeding more meal at that earlier age. Most farmers are now offering calf starter ad lib from Day 10 onwards. Once the calves are eating between a kilo and a kilo and a half per day, they are fit for weaning.

“The focus for dairy heifer calves is to get them growing as quickly as possible at as early an age as possible. The preference is to feed a calf crunch product with high levels of flaked maize and grain.”

McGlynn went on to confirm that calf milk replacer sales have taken off since the beginning of this month.

“Since quotas have ended, the majority of farmers want to put as much milk as possible into the bulk tank. In turn, this is encouraging sales of milk powders.”

McGlynn also indicated that feed prices, across the board, had remained stable over recent weeks, despite the fluctuations in the currency markets.

“Most millers took a fair bit of cover, where stocks are concerned, last autumn,” he said.

“The expectation is that grain and protein prices might fall back to some extent in the autumn when new season stocks become available.”

Commenting on the current state of the Irish dairy sector McGlynn said that the biggest challenge facing a significant number of farmers is that of repaying significant super levy bills while, at the same time, remaining viable in the longer term.

“Bills of €150,000 plus are still big challenges to meet, even if the scope to pay them back over three years is an option,” he said.

“The reality is that numerous Irish milk producers will require both business and technical advice of the highest calibre over the next number of years.

"For quite a number it was, possibly, a case of expanding too quickly. In our own case we will be employing a dairy advisory specialist over the coming weeks.”