Livestock farmers in need of winter feed could be helped by the NFU’s new online fodder bank service.

Many farmers were unable to cut their grass because of the appalling summer and some had the double whammy of having to house and feed stock early because of the persistent rain.

But others may have a surplus, particularly of feed cereal, which has proved difficult to market through the usual channels because of quality issues.

The fodder bank allows NFU members to post requests to buy or sell silage, hay, straw and surplus feed cereal on web pages that are organised by region.

Joining the bank is free for NFU members. Payment, transportation and quality are left to the buyer and seller to discuss. Dozens of farmers have signed up following the launch of the initiative last week.

Another victim of high feed and bedding prices has been horse owners. A number are understood to have been forced to put their animals down as the credit crunch worsens.

The Horse Trust has been “inundated” with four times the usual number of requests to retire horses. It fears that many animals will be neglected or “dumped”.