How much will they cost to make this year?
The rapid increase in grass-growth levels on farms in most parts of the country over the past two or three weeks has seen many farmers take out areas of ground for round-bale silage.
After a slow enough start to the growing season, grass growth picked up significantly in early May and most farmers who have cut silage are reporting that a good crop has been secured.
The next six weeks will see the majority of farmers across Ireland make their first cut of silage and it is hoped that weather conditions will prove favorable.
As farmers know all too well, making silage when contending with wet weather makes the job a lot more challenging.
In light of recent world events and volatile grain markets, there has been a massive emphasis placed on encouraging farmers to secure as much high-quality silage as possible.
In light of this, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, recently announced a scheme for beef and sheep farmers that would reward them with a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha.
This would result in individual farmers being eligible to receive up to a maximum of €1,000.
Over the past few months, there has been a lot of speculation on how much it will cost to make a round-bale of silage.
Agriland contacted a number of round-bale silage contractors across the country to see what price they would be charging this year.
As always, silage contractor quotes vary significantly, depending on a number of variable factors. Most, if not all contractors, charge for baling on a per-bale basis unlike pit silage, where it is charged per acre.
With that said, most contractors suggested that an all-inclusive price of €18-€20/bale would be a fair indication of where prices would likely be this summer.
The net option to bind the round bale proved to be cheaper than the net-replacement film option, with the later proving to be approximately €1/bale more expensive than the net-binding option.
Some contractors noted that while the net-replacement film option may be more expensive, it is growing in popularity among farmers.
Tedding-out grass is generally charged separately and this year it will cost approximately €10/ac or €50/hour. Raking grass is generally charged at the same rate.
Where the farmer is providing the wrap, contractors have said the cost per bale of the mow, rake, bale and wrap option will be €14-€16/bale.
A roll of wrap is currently costing €115-€120 and a standard application of wrap on a bale would cost €3.75-€4.00 in plastic costs alone.
The contractors that were contacted said mowing grass with a conditioner mower will be charged at somewhere between €25 and €30/ac this year, and where a farmer mows the grass themselves €3-€3.50/bale will be deducted from the cost – depending on the number of bales/acre.
Where a combi-baler is in use, various contractors suggested prices of between €7.50/bale and €11.50/bale to cover the cost of baling and wrapping – with plastic provided by the farmer.
Costs for drawing-in bales vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on a variety of factors, but contractors have said that a 10-bale Keltec bale chaser will cost approximately €75/hour to hire for drawing in bales.
Given the volatility of oil prices currently, these prices may well fluctuate as the year progresses.
It is important to point out that the above prices are merely the findings from a sample of silage contractors across the country contacted by Agriland and some contractors may be charging less, while others may be charging more.