How to make up the Fodder shortfall over the winter?

Following on from last weeks article where we figured out how to work out how much silage we have on farm and the likely demand for the silage from our different types of animals, lets look at a few options available to make up any fodder shortfall.

  1. Buy more silage.
  2. Reduce numbers on farm.
  3. Feed Concentrates

Option 1 Buy more Silage.

It appears that most of the good quality silage has been well sold at this stage but it might be still worthwhile if good quality silage came available at the right price.

  •  Silage bought must be stored carefully with no damage to the wrap.
  • Transport can be a major cost.
  • A lot of cash has to be paid out immediately to buy silage.
  • Are all bales going to be of consistent quality or will there be a few “duds” mixed with them?

If the quality is questionable there are plenty of better options for your money.

Option 2 Reduce numbers on farm.

At first glance this seems like a great idea. Reduce numbers means less need for fodder, less animals to mind over winter and a few bob in the back pocket for Christmas.

I always like to remember that with cattle “When you sell, you need to think of the day you buy”. This may not always be strictly true but it is worth remembering that when you sell cattle you will be looking to replace them at some point in the spring.

With so many farmers having reduced numbers it would make sense that there will be a lot of pressure on prices of cattle in spring as some farmers need for lawnmowers arises again. So you could end up paying big money for mediocre cattle in spring.

Option 3. Feed concentrates.

If you are short of Fodder it is worth remembering that 1 kg of concentrate replaces 5 to 6 kilos of silage in an animal. Consider that one ton of concentrate will replace 5 to 6 tons of top quality silage.

  •  Concentrate can be bought as needed so storage should not be a problem.
  • It is consistent throughout the year and what you see is what you get.
  • Animal Health. Weak animals due to hunger can result in costly Vet bills.
  • Animal Performance. If we are looking for good performance in the spring we have to at least maintain the animal over the winter. This will require more than just silage.
  • Cash flow. A modest outlay in feed can save a lot of money against spending a lot on large quantities of silage.
  • Concentrates such as “Silage Enhancer”, and “Fodder Stretch” are available specifically to suit the current fodder crisis at good value prices.

In conclusion there are a few options available to us over the winter, and like most things in life it may be that a combination of each of the three options above may be the wisest move we can make. Buy a bit of silage if we are short of fodder. Sell some animals that will make money now and feed some concentrates to those that we need in good shape next spring.

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