29 September 1995

Feed bill rise warning

WINTER feed bills look set to rise this year, as increased demand and short supplies of raw materials drive prices up.

Livestock farmers are therefore being urged to waste no time in planning their feed requirements.

This has been a year "characterised by volatility", said Cargill national feeds manager Ian Stephenson at last weeks European Dairy Farming Event.

Trade for maize gluten last month was more like a December market, he said. Currently selling at about £115/t, demand could rise to 1m tonnes this year.

Fishmeal prices, too, at £400/t, have "gone through the roof", added Mr Stephenson.

With limited prospects for third-cut silage, for many farmers it will be a case of how best to replace or eke out forage supplies, points out Rumenco trading and sales manager Robin Stevens.

"Succulent feeds, such as brewers grains, are in short supply, and the availability of maize- and wheat-based products are also beginning to tighten," he says.

A lot of farmers bought straights early this year, remarks Mr Stevens, and this now looks to have been a wise decision. But shortages may bring them back into the market again after Christmas.

Farmers are being advised to source their soya requirements to as far forward as January by Dalgety divisional raw materials manager Robert Clegg.

"It will probably then be selling at about the £170 mark," he says. "But after January, prices could come back £5 or £6."

KWs Andy Tucker, meanwhile, says that all commodities are "on a hype". Maize meals, however, represent good value, he suggests. KW has recently been offering home-produced maize gluten pellets at £122/t.

Imported maize gluten, meanwhile, has been available at around £113/t.