14 April 1995

Hay price set to remain firm

ALTHOUGH the strong demand for hay may slacken as spring progresses, tightening supplies look set to limit price reductions.

John Shayler of Andoversford-based Tayler and Fletcher says farmers are still "desperately short" of hay. Trade, he says, has stayed at previous levels, with the best quality making up to £135/t.

But he suggests the price could fall during April, and that once we get into May the trade may "virtually stop altogether".

The weather, and the timing of turnout, is crucial. But, as Abergavennys Syd Walker says: "The grass isnt growing as quickly as it could be, and turnout seems a long way away yet."

Business has also remained brisk at Chelford, where on Mon-day a top of £186/t, and an average of £158/t was seen for first-quality hay. "But this is the beginning of the end," says auctioneer David Russell. "Twelve of the 56 loads went home unsold this week; last week, it was only four of 61."

Abergavenny has seen prices of best quality hay come down from recent levels of over £140 to under £120 last week.

"People have spent a lot of money on fodder this winter and those who are usually buying an occasional load at this time of year may try to do without."

He now expects the best hay to stay about current levels for a couple of weeks. "But there is very little of it left," he says. "Between Christmas and March we also saw a lot of old hay sold. Now, countrywide, the barns are empty." &#42