23 October 1998

Do your feed sums now…

By FW livestock reporters

PRICES of some feeds are increasing as sterling weakens and supplies tighten, and it may be wise to secure at least a proportion of winter feed supplies now.

According to nutritionists, concentrates are still good value and producers should avoid buying lower quality feeds which will not balance silage well, causing poor stock performance in winter.

Investigations

Lincs-based Signet consultant Richard Elliot says that beef producers should investigate all potential supplies, use home-grown cereals where possible, and re-consider processing on-farm.

"Feed to meet animal requirements, but dont just do what youve always done – look at alternatives and you may be able to cut costs. Also, compare concentrate and straights prices – maybe concentrates are the best option?"

Some straights prices are increasing; Mole Valley Farmers raw materials buyer, Charles Waldron explains that the soya price rose last week following a 4.5% cut in North American yield estimates.

As a result, soya prices have increased by about £8/t, and its difficult to predict how much they may increase. "Maize gluten prices have also increased by about £3/t as UK wheat prices have risen. This is partly due to the £s devaluation against European currency."

But, so far, there has been little difference in price of most other imported straights, so consider covering 30-40% needs on the forward market and taking the remainder at spot prices, he advises.

Colin Booth, straights trader for Aberdeenshire-based Harbro Farm Sales, recommends buying soya now as it is currently good value, and prices may increase. Tightening supplies of wheat distillers and sugar beet mean its also best to purchase supplies now, he advises.

"But hold off buying rapeseed meal as prices may fall. Where you are in the market for maize gluten, try to hold off buying until a large cargo comes in, putting pressure on the market."

Luppo Diepenbroek, nutritionist with Mole Valley Farmers says that although prices have increased, producers must resist the temptation to feed lower quality concentrates. For dairy producers, feeding cheaper concentrates which are high in fibre will cause milk yield and protein % to suffer later in the winter, he warns.

"Many silages are high in fibre and low in energy, so ensure you feed a concentrate not another fibre source. Look for a compound thats under 10% fibre, not one thats 12-14%."

Cereals are good value, so avoid high levels of high fibre products such as maize gluten, palm kernel, sugar beet pulp, grass nuts, rice-bran and cocoa shells. These increase butterfat % which was acceptable when payments for butterfat were high, but is not profitable now, explains Mr Diepenbroek.

ADAS nutritionistChris Savery also advises ensuring concentrates are good quality and avoiding low priced feeds which would not be used as straight on-farm.

"Choose a compound that supplements silage rather than displacing it in diets. Deal with a reputable company that will provide information on what you are feeding, so you can feed a well balanced diet.

CONCENTRATE BUYING

&#8226 Soya and gluten prices increased.

&#8226 Consider sourcing now.

&#8226 Avoid low quality feeds.