Sunday 25 September 2016

Now is the time to fix winter feed prices with your supplier

Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30

There should only be marginal increases in feed costs for livestock this winter.
There should only be marginal increases in feed costs for livestock this winter.

As all beef producers know too well beef prices are unpredictable and can change, generally for the worse, at the whim of the processors or supermarkets. Feed input prices are somewhat different in that they generally follow predicted trends on world markets, barring natural disasters or political upheaval.

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The current market conditions reflect this year successful global harvest. Bumper yields, high carry-over stocks and a reduced demand from China have all resulted in suppressed world feed prices.

Only marginal increases on current prices are expected over the winter months. It is advisable to decide on the ration you require to match your forage analysis and fix the price with your feed supplier now

I always advocate the maximum use of Irish cereals in rations. Given the excellent quality of the crops, I won't be changing this advice.

Depending on location and load size, rolled barley is trading at €170-€190 per tonne. Wheat is trading €10 - €12 above barley and still below its main energy feed rival, maize grain at €205 plus.

Oats, which traded at very attractive prices for the past two seasons, have met with an unexpected windfall due a recent export demand, mainly from Scandinavia. On the digestible fibre front, the gap between soya hulls and sugar beet pulp has widened significantly.

This price gap of €50-€60 makes soya hulls the logical choice where digestible fibre is required.

On the protein front, as always, prices are closely linked to soya bean price. For on-farm delivered bulk loads, soya has dropped to €380/t, which marks a €70 reduction on where it was trading this time last year. The other common protein source on beef farms is dried distillers' grain.

In recent years, this was imported here mainly in the form of maize distillers from North America.

There has been a slight increase in the availability of Irish produced dried and wet distillers. Dried wheat distillers, both Irish and imported, are also becoming more available.

Wheat and maize distillers will differ in protein and energy contents and this needs to be taken into account when balancing diets.

Wheat distillers will be up to 6pc higher in protein and generally higher in energy.

When it comes to selecting what feeds to use it is important that the main forage base of the diet is analysed accurately beforehand.

This will reduce the likelihood of over or under feeding energy and protein. The importance of beef rations being correctly balanced for minerals and vitamins can't be overemphasised.

Improvements in immunity and health, thrive, hoof care and kill outs will all follow correct mineral and vitamin supplementation.

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