16 August 2002

Take advantage of cut price straights

With variable silage quality, many livestock units will be

forced to move away from their normal winter feeding

plans to maximise performance. This special, edited by

Richard Allison, looks at some of the rationing options

available to minimise winter feeding costs. Suzie Horne

kicks off with a look at the straights market

WITH cereal prices under pressure and the £ strong against the $, most straights will be cheaper this winter than last.

Estimates vary as to how much purchasing producers have completed forward, but many traders believe there is still 50% of business to be done. Compounders have also booked a lower proportion of their requirements than usual.

There is no doubt that cereals will form a greater proportion of rations being fed, with wheat at £55-58/t ex-farm for October and feed barley at £51-56/t for the same month.

But Ivor Bending, who runs a straight feeds buying group in Dorset, advises that only good clean, dry samples should be considered. However, he has no preference for wheat or barley.

"Buy grain with a good specific weight from a merchant unless you are prepared to do the quality monitoring yourself when buying direct from farm," he advises.

Many producers on mixed farms are waiting to see whether their cereals will qualify for the quality market, in which case they will buy in feed grains to replace home-grown crops.

Trident is yet to release this winters sugar beet pulp prices, but the market expects it to be £5-10/t lower than last year. This makes it relatively expensive compared with wheat, as traders reckon it needs to be priced within £7/t of wheat to be competitive.

Producers who have not booked any soyameal may already be kicking themselves. A large volume of trade was done early this summer with prices as low as £130/t, delivered through winter.

The North American crop is at the pod fill stage and markets are vulnerable to changes in weather. Dry weather will reduce yield and push up the futures markets. Favourable rains over the next few weeks could see soya prices fall again, but the general advice is to buy at current prices, when producers have not already done so.

Early August saw the winter price – full loads delivered to farm November-April – at £145-150/t for 49% protein Brazilian soya, after a price increase of £9/t in late July. This put Argentinian (46% protein) at £140-148/t, and US Hipro (50 to 51%) at £154-159/t. Brazilian and Argentinian Hipro is available at a discount of £2-8/t compared with US Hipro.

The premiums for non-GM soyameal this season are £2-7/t, while non-GM maize gluten is at a premium of £3-8/t.

Maize gluten is relatively good value at £77-82/t delivered, through the winter, although parts of Scotland will have to pay up to £3/t extra for haulage. The higher end of this price range is occupied by home-produced maize gluten, which is non-GM material.

Prices have risen since maize gluten hit its low of about £73/t earlier this year, when many producers booked tonnage. Traders think there is little room for gluten to fall again because the US will stop shipping if prices fall too low.

Rapemeal prices range from £92/t to £103/t delivered through the winter, again because of haulage issues. Until November, there is some harvest pressure and crushers have plenty to shift at £86-90/t delivered.

Citrus pulp also looks good value, at about £65-70/t delivered November to April. Buyers are advised to check that orange content is at least 95% and to buy from a guaranteed source.

Brewers grains and other moist feeds will be in high demand to improve palatability of rations. As usual, brewers grains are not forward priced for winter, but recently cost up to £20/t delivered, with wet distillers draff at about £16/t in Scotland. &#42

STRAIGHTSPRICES

&#8226 Cereals cheap.

&#8226 Cottonseed attractive.

&#8226 Low non-GM premiums.