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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Beef farmers facing ‘difficulty’ securing peat for cattle bedding

A Sinn Féin TD has raised concerns in relation to the “difficulty beef farmers currently face” in securing peat for cattle bedding.

Matt Carthy raised a parliamentary question, requesting Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to make a statement on the matter.

He asked the minister if his attention has been drawn to the difficultly beef farmers currently face in securing peat for cattle bedding and what efforts are being undertaken to resolve the difficulty.

In response, the minister said: “While peat is used for a range of purposes in the agricultural and horticultural sectors, my Department is not involved in the regulation of its extraction.”

“This is a planning process under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) license process, under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.”

‘No indication of a shortage of straw for bedding’

“Specifically, in relation to livestock bedding materials, I understand that while straw volumes harvested in 2020 were lower than in some years, there was, nonetheless, a significant carryover of material from harvest 2019. There is currently no indication of a shortage of straw for bedding.”

“I am, of course, aware that some livestock farmers often use composite bedding materials that incorporated peat. However, sustainable alternatives to peat such as sawdust are increasingly being used.”

Alternative forms of bedding

In an article, FRS outlined alternative forms of bedding that farms should consider if straw is unavailable.

Key factors to note when considering alternatives are if the material keeps the animals dry, healthy, and comfortable. Other considerations include availability, cost and disposing of the material.

Some options explored in the article include:

  • Peat
  • Woodchip
  • Rubber mats

The article explores various costs, options, and advantages and disadvantages associated with each option. 

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