Balance shifts as producers look for alternatives to hay

Hay and barley straw continue to make very high prices at auction, but in some cases have come back from the levels seen pre-Christmas. Some producers have decided to sell rather than feed their hay, prompting a search for alternatives.

Although wheat straw prices are high, there is not the same pressure on supply as in the hay and barley straw market, say auctioneers. However, the switch from feeding hay to barley straw by some has put a bottom in the wheat straw price.

On Monday (10 January) Alexanders of Cambridge sold Claas Quadrant bales of meadow hay to average £78/bale – almost double the price of a year earlier – with a top price of £100/bale. Seeds hay averaged £88/bale for Claas 3200/MF186-type bales.

Average prices for conventional bales of seeds hay ranged from £6.82 at Alexanders, to £5.38 with Tayler & Fletcher in Gloucester, with conventional baled wheat straw making between £1 and £1.75/bale at these two sales.

Claas Quadrant bales of meadow hay at Howkins & Harrison, Banbury, sold to £80/bale on 4 January. The firm sold clamped grass and whole crop silage at up to £40.80/t and clamped maize silage for £35/t. Good-quality round bale silage made £23.50-£26/bale.

Strong demand for all fodder also pushed haylage prices higher. Tayler & Fletcher’s sale saw round bales of haylage selling for £33-£45/bale compared with £18-£35/bale at the firm’s November auction.

Entries at Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ regular weekly electronic fodder auctions were similar to last year, with 3,580 bales of fodder sold last week (7 January).

Round bale barley straw sold to £20.80/bale, averaging £17.65/bale, with round bale hay averaging £22.90/bale. Availability of hay in Scotland was good, but quality has been variable, said a spokesman.

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