Farmer Focus: Feed price £58/t dearer than last year

Dare I say it, but it feels like things are beginning to return to some kind of normal. 

Farm visits are resuming, and it’s been great to catch up with some customers and suppliers face to face after such a long time. The weather also looks like I can put a pause on building an ark for our livestock and maybe retire the log burner for the year.

Pig prices have risen for 10 consecutive weeks, and at time of writing are at 151.74p/kg. This is still down on last year’s price, but is above the five-year average.

Supplies are tight as a result of falling carcass weights and demand is good. Let’s hope we can dust off the BBQs soon.

See also: Pig profits decimated as other sectors also fall, says Defra

However, feed prices continue to soar. For the period May to July 2021, we are now forking out £288.57/t, as fed. This is up £27/t on 2021’s first quarter, and up £58/t on July 2020. 

Thankfully, our contract with Tesco is looking after us and, likewise, our chick price with Avara is linked to cost, so both provide a little comfort.

During an informative meeting with our feed supplier, we discussed a wide range of topics, including some reasons for the price hike.

Several supply chains are removing soya from their ruminant diets and replacing it with rapemeal. This means rapemeal is becoming as expensive as soya when the two are compared on a nutrient basis. 

Usually, we see the old crop price drop to meet the new crop, but this year new crop prices have gone up owing to adverse weather globally. 

We are looking at buying forwards for autumn 2022 already, as wheat is about £20/t cheaper than autumn 2021. Furthermore, world demand for oils is having a massive impact. 

Vitamins, minerals and amino acids have gone up in price, some by as much as 30% on last quarter, and account for about £9/t of our price increase.

Vivergo is also reopening its ethanol plant and, in conjunction with the other UK plant, will be running on about 2m tonnes of wheat.

All of this has meant that producers lost, on average, £26/pig during the first quarter of 2021, according to AHDB.

Sophie Hope is a Farmer Focus writer from near Cheltenham. Read her biography