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McIlveen announces series of winter planning information evenings for farmers

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Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen today announced that her Department is to hold a series of information evenings aimed at assisting farmers in planning winter management following the very wet summer in parts of the province.

Miss McIlveen said: “The summer weather of 2016 in Northern Ireland definitely delivered an east-west split with significantly more rainfall in some areas. Farmers particularly in Fermanagh, Tyrone and north west Co Londonderry faced challenging conditions all summer due to water logged soils from prolonged heavy rain.”

The Minister said that to assist farmers in planning winter management, DAERA in conjunction with the banks and the Ulster Farmers’ Union have organised a series of meetings in these specific areas over the next two weeks to address the issues of animal health, feed management and efficiency and business management. They will be held in Enniskillen, Omagh and Limavady.

She said: “The result of the wet weather was that although grass growth was good, utilisation was very difficult. Cattle had to be re-housed on several occasions to try and minimise ground damage. Silage making was badly disrupted with a number of farmers only harvesting second cuts in early October thanks to the settled spell of weather. While the majority of farms will have sufficient quantity of silage, quality is poor due to the impact of the weather and delayed cutting.

“The wet conditions will also have increased the risk of a number of animal health issues including, liver fluke, clostridial, pneumonia, lameness and general ill-thrift.

“To compensate for poorer livestock performance many farmers have incurred increased costs from additional meal feeding, veterinary treatments, fuel, slurry handling and from repairing damaged swards. This increase in costs coupled to reduced farm output has put further pressure on the farm cashflow.”

The meetings will be held on Thursday 27 October 2016 Silver Birch Hotel Omagh, Tuesday 1 November 2016 Roe Park Resort Limavady and Wednesday 2 November 2016 Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.They all commence at 8pm. While the information evenings are open to all, farmers who are currently not taking part in Business Development Groups are especially advised to consider attending.

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