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Grain & Feed Storage – Options for Livestock Farmers

by 5m Editor
15 July 2009, at 11:50am

IRELAND - Tightening profit margins, volatility in the feed market and increased scale of operation are all contributing to a growing interest in on-farm storage of grains and other feed ingredients on livestock farms. In response to this, Teagasc has produced a new booklet entitled <em>Grain & Feed Storage – Options for Livestock Farmers</em> which provides all the relevant information for farmers to evaluate the options for storing feed on farms.

The new booklet was launched at a Teagasc Tillage and Energy Crops Walk taking place at Kildalton College, Piltown, County Kilkenny on 13 and 14 July. Speaking at the launch, the Teagasc authors, Siobhán Kavanagh, Tom Ryan and Noel Nugent said that the economics of on-farm storage of feedstuffs will be dictated by the price differential between buying grain / feed as required and the cost of buying green grain off the combine, the storage and preservation costs as well as purchasing balancer feeds for the grain.

Siobhán Kavanagh warns that farmers must consider all the associated costs when looking at on-farm storage of feeds and not just the direct costs. Specific costs that are often ignored include storage losses, working capital tied up in feeds for 5-6 months of the year, as well as labour costs and any investment in ancillary equipment.

The authors highlighted the fact that many feed storage units are only operating at 25-30 per cent of their capacity, thereby increasing the cost of storing each tonne of feed. The cost of the storage facilities range from €12 per tonne of feed stored for a covered silage pit converted into a feed store, to €45 per tonne for a 4 bay unit with individual roller doors on each bay, which is operating at 25 per cent of its capacity. Any capital investment in storage facilities must match the scale of the livestock enterprise and the tonnage used.

Technological advancements have increased the options for preserving grains on-farm. The preferred option for an individual will be dictated by a number of factors including the storage facilities available on-farm, the harvesting window as well as labour requirements.

Farm to farm trading has the potential to create an alternative market for cereal growers. But in the past, too many farmers have paid over the odds for high moisture grain. There must be transparency in the procedures employed for valuing the crop, if this market is to be advantageous to both the cereal grower and livestock farmer.

This publication outlines the options available to livestock farmers for the storage and preservation of both low and high moisture grain on-farm. It details the technical requirements for storage and preservation systems and the associated costs and drawings. This booklet will provide the farmer with the information needed to make an informed decision on the feasibility of on-farm storage of grain on his/her own farm.