The last few years have been difficult ones for animal feed production in the UK. First there was covid causing disruption. Now there is the cost of living crisis and war in Ukraine. New figures from AHDB give an insight into the current situation.
Production falling off
The headline figure is that total production in the UK fell again in March. It was just 1.292Mt, a fall of 8% year on year.
If you look at the first three quarters of the season (July to March), it was down 6% to 10.052Mt. This is the lowest it has been since 2015/16.
Looking at it by different types of animal feed, some are struggling more than others. The main driving force is a huge drop in monogastric feed. This includes any animals with a simple stomach, including both carnivores and omnivores.
The total production for pig feed for the July to March period was 1.452Mt. That was 203Kt less year on year, a drop of 12%. It means it is the lowest level since 2018/19.
Poultry feed declined in the same period. Total production was 4.410Mt, a 339Kt or 7% drop. The level has not been this low since 2014/15.
The picture was slightly brighter for ruminant feed, but it was still down a little YOY. This was especially true for dairy cows. Overall the dip was -1%.
The decline in animal feed production is creating a surplus of some of the key ingredients like wheat and barley. According to AHDB figures, there was over 1Mt of GB wheat in storage in the UK at ports, co-ops and merchants. In addition, 4.499Mt was on farms. This figure could rise even more in the rest of the season if use does not pick up.
When could the situation improve?
Stakeholders will be looking ahead to see if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. However, there are fears it could take a lot of time for some aspects of feed production to recover.
The outlook for poultry feed is quite dark at the moment. The margins are being squeezed due to higher input costs and lower wholesale carcass prices. There are also problems with inflation. Some producers are leaving the industry because of financial issues. It is unlikely there will be any sort of recovery here until some time next season.
It is a little bit different with pig feed. The price of pigs is continuing to increase, so it is improving the margins for producers. If this continues, there could be an increase in breeding and production next season. However, there are fears that the cost of living crisis will tank demand. If that happens, both could decline instead.
Talk to us about animal feed
At JS Hubbuck Ltd we stock some high quality feeds for different animals. Our goal is to give clients easy access to fantastic products that will be beneficial for their livestock. We can even offer details if you need help deciding. So, contact us today for information or to place an order.