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An Update on Winter Fodder

An Update on Winter Fodder

Over the last two months, the farming team have been working with producers, milk buyers, Defra and Certification Bodies to ensure everything is done to support farmers who are short on fodder this winter. We asked Head of Farming, Liz Bowles for an update.

Early on we identified that the worst affected sector is livestock and especially dairy cattle. Milk production has held up better than might have been expected given the severity of the weather, but this has been at the expense of using forage stocks that were intended for winter. Some farmers have applied for and been granted derogations to feed non–organic forage, but they are in the minority to date and there are very few feeding non–organic forage to dairy cows.

I have been seeing and hearing of late silage cuts being taken this week with varying levels of satisfaction with the results. This will help but many are predicting that there will be a severe shortage of forage stocks across the whole country (organic and non – organic). To help with this we will soon send out a survey to all licensees (in conjunction with OF&G) to establish the scale of the likely problems yet to come. It will be really helpful if as many as possible licensees respond to the survey as this will help us in our discussions with Defra on what the sector will need over the coming nine months.

Feed availability

In addition, we have been talking to feed manufacturers and importers to improve the visibility on feed availability now and in the future. There is some good news here with those we've spoken to reporting good levels of cover over the coming 4-6 months. Thereafter information levels are poor, but this is normal. Importers are reasonably confident of new season crop availability albeit they are less forthcoming on likely price.

Effective winter feed planning has never been more crucial to allow you to identify likely shortages early on. We are planning on running a webinar on this over the next few weeks and will send details in due course. In the meantime, please respond to the farmer survey when you receive it.

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