Farm Ireland

Monday 10 December 2018

Mills working around the clock to meet feed demand

Concentrate sales running 20pc ahead of last year

Mills are working around the clock to keep up with soaring demand on compound feed for dairy and beef rations.

Merchants say that feed sales are running 20-25pc ahead of last year as the combination of wintry weather, poor grass growth and increased cow numbers has driven sales.

Farmers facing substantially higher feed bills this spring could be hit on the double from April, with industry sources predicting price hikes for both dairy and beef rations.

Pat Ryan of Liffey Mills said the Nenagh-based outfit was under “serious pressure” to meet feed demand.

“It never happened before, but we’re working 24 hours a day on the feed side to keep pace with orders,” Mr Ryan explained.

Jimmy Brett of Brett Brothers in Kilkenny estimated that feed sales since January were up 25pc

Pat Ryan of Liffey Mills said feed sales were running 20pc ahead of 2017 levels. Mr Ryan explained that sales were up across all enterprises, but the strongest demand was from the dairy sector.

Jimmy Brett of Brett Brothers said farmers in the south-east had been particularly hit hard by Storm Emma and the recent cold snap.

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The pressure on farms was exacerbated by increased numbers and high stocking rates.

Mr Brett predicted that the level of concentrate feeding will remain high through April as silage reserves in the region are low and grass growth is running 50pc below normal.

Glanbia pointed out that due to the lower than normal grass growth rates, concentrate feed sales are currently running over 20pc ahead of the same period last year.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Dairygold confirmed that the ruminant feed sales were well up this spring.

The southern co-op also warned of a possible hike in ration prices from April and May, citing higher ingredient prices for the increases.

Barley boost

"Feed ingredient prices have strengthened considerably since early January and this will lead to increased prices in the marketplace over the coming months," the ­Dairygold spokesperson said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by others in the feed business, with merchants pointing out that straights such as soya hulls had increased by €40/t to €200/t over the last three months, while distillers is up €40-50/t, and pollard €30-40/t dearer.

Any feed price hikes are likely to be strongly opposed by the farm organisations, given the higher overall costs endured by farmers this spring.

On a positive note, tillage farmers with barley in store are in line for a decent ­return on their decision to dry and hold stocks.

Merchants report a shortage of barley. As a result, dry barley is now making €180-182/t, with wheat on €177-178/t.

On average, prices are being reported as in the region of €270-300 for 16pc protein rations for the dairy industry.

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