8 December 1995

Hay and straw trade quieter

HAY and straw prices have eased in many markets with the recent mild weather having limited demand.

Trade was described as "generally quiet" at Tayler and Fletchers offering of 4500t at Stow-on-the-Wold in late Nov-ember.

"The autumn rains and mild conditions have drawn the sting out of demand," said auctioneer John Shealer. And the trade reflected a downward trend after the "near panic" prices reported during September.

With uncertainty as to current and future supplies, merchants approached the sale in a cautious mood, buying only to meet present orders, he adds.

Although a good number attended, only two lots of small-baled hay topped the £4/bale mark. And only a handful of barley straw lots reached the £1/bale level.

Seed hay in conventional small bales averaged £147/t and meadow hay £126/t. Barley straw, meanwhile, levelled £46.70/t, wheat straw £30.21/t and oat straw £46/t.

The clearance rates of 55% and 65% for hay and straw, respectively, were described by the auctioneers as "in excess of expectations".

Wheat straw, however, proved particularly difficult to shift, with a "take it or leave it" trade around the 60-65p/bale mark.

Similarly at Chelford, auctioneer David Russell says there has been a "substantial reduction" in prices.

On Monday, he saw nearly one-third of the 60 loads entered remain unsold. "It was mainly wheat straw that went home," he said.

"Top-quality hay will maintain its value because the best always sells. But second-quality hay and wheat straw may fall in price.

"People now seem aware that there isnt an acute shortage, after all," he says.

But as auctioneer Syd Walker at Abergavenny says: "Prices are still expensive compared to previous years. And two or three weeks of cold weather could soon harden demand." &#42