The devaluation of currency following the EU referendum has increased organic feed prices by around £15 to £30 a tonne depending on protein levels, according to specialist organic feed supplier Hi Peak.
Soya prices increased by around £30 per tonne overnight, says the firm’s raw material buyer and ration formulator Pete Griffin. Imported wheat, which is being used to supplement the last of the old season crop, has increased by £10 to £15 a tonne, and maize and beans are tracking wheat. UK origin wheat hasn’t moved in price yet, he states, but will do when the new season crop is harvested. Barley, oats, and rape are not available, with the supply of lucerne and sunflower in limited supply.
“We are struggling to get hold of protein crops because of the year-long issue with certification of organic supplies from the Ukraine. It is still overhanging the market. The shortage, plus the currency devaluation, means that low protein feeds have increased in price by around £15 a tonne and high protein diets by £30. For dairy cows, this would increase the cost of production for organic milk by up to 1ppl probably.
The cost increases come at a time when many cows are struggling at grass due to the cold spring and variable weather in May and June, he says. “Clovers are temperature sensitive and the cold April set them back,” he says. “The grass was also affected, and it doesn’t seem to have the same amount of milk producing oomph as in a normal year. Then the wet weather in June resulted in the paddocks getting poached. Farmers have generally not got as much milk and solids off grass as they do in a normal year. They need to have a good dry July because if they don’t I can see many farmers having to put their cows on winter rations as soon as late August to replenish their cow’s body reserves for the winter. And the feeds which will do the best job of this are the higher protein ones, of course…which cost the most. But I’m also confident they will be the most cost effective in the end. What matters isn’t the cost per tonne of feed, it’s what it delivers in terms of benefits on cow output, health, and fertility that matters.”