Snow, storms and now drought: Temperature’s rising as Limerick farmers feel heat

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Mercury rising: Ger Murnane with his kids Garrett, Cormac, Eoghan and Saoirse, watch the temperature rise on a barometer (with thermometer) on their Meanus farm Picture: Michael Cowhey

Mercury rising: Ger Murnane with his kids Garrett, Cormac, Eoghan and Saoirse, watch the temperature rise on a barometer (with thermometer) on their Meanus farm Picture: Michael Cowhey

AS TEMPERATURES touch 30 degrees man and beast are under pressure in Limerick.

Farmers struggled to let cattle out of sheds at the end of April. Now at the end of June many are back in sheds as there isn’t a blade of grass.

Precious silage made in May and June is being fed again. Farmers had hoped to build up reserves after the fodder crisis. Met Eireann has predicted: “Current indications are that it will stay largely dry now into next week”.

Keeping water flowing to cattle, possibility of them suffering heat stress, fertility issues, no growth and mounting feed bills are all pressing concerns as the sun mercilessly beats down.

Donal Neville, Croagh, said: “It is a lot more serious than a lot of people realise. There was no fodder reserves after last winter and people want to build it up. There was a fair enough harvest but it is going to be depleted again.”

His cow won Supreme Dairy Champion at the Charleville Show at the weekend and while his prize animal escaped, some even got sun burnt as their coats are clipped so tight.

Richard Kennedy, IFA deputy president and Clarina dairy farmer, said his biggest concern is water supply.

“If I have ever seen stress on cattle it is ones that don’t have water. Cows panic. Farmers should be sure they have tanks full in reserve. It is important to plan – we know it is going to be around for another week,” said Mr Kennedy, who has been feeding silage for the last few days. He says even it rains next week it will be up to three weeks before the ground recovers.

Paul Hannon, in Friarstown, Crecora, said they are in “serious trouble”. “We’re burnt to a cinder. I’m going out now to let them in [to sheds]” said Paul, at 2pm on Tuesday. “They were in for eight months. And to turn around now and for this to happen... Next winter could be worse than the one that is just gone,” said Mr Hannon.

Ger Murnane, Meanus, expects to be feeding silage by the weekend.

“We were struggling to get cows out at the end of April and now there isn’t a blade of grass. I’m looking down on a hill and it is pure white – it’s burnt alive. The costs involved in feeding extra nuts is a killer. Storms, floods, snow and now this – it is extreme,” said Mr Murnane.