Livestock producers in Northern Ireland bought 25% more concentrates in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same period last year, pushing production costs up sharply.
The combination of the fodder shortage and cold spring meant sales of beef concentrates increased by 25%, to 138,600t, with sheep concentrates up by 11.2%, to 36,800t. “Some of this increase by sheep producers may be due to the higher carry-over of hoggets into 2013,” said a report by the Livestock and Meat Commission. Feed demand for the breeding flock had also risen.
“There have also been reports that the quality of cereals used for animal feed has been impacted by the poor weather in 2012, with a reduction in expected animal performance as a result. This has meant that in some cases producers have had to increase concentrate feeding levels to get cattle and sheep to an adequate level of finish.”
Given the sharp rise in feed prices, the increased purchases would put increased financial pressure on both the sheep and beef sectors, said the report. However, beef – and more recently, sheep – prices had improved, which may help absorb some of these additional costs.