THERE is no doubting the challenges the past year's weather has caused farmers and forage production data from a survey carried out by The Andersons Centre, reveals that Scotland fared worse than the average.

While most of the country recorded an average decline in grass silage production of 13% across the farms surveyed, declines were heaviest in the Midlands area and Scotland, at 33% and 20% respectively.

Hay, haylage and other (non-grass) silage fared a little better in some regions, with farms in the North and Wales increasing production somewhat significantly. Hay production favours the hotter and drier weather however production is still down in the key livestock areas of Scotland and the South, a result of grass growth slumping through the summer.

Overall total forage production from the surveyed farms is down, by around 10%. Whether this trend matches the rest of the UK as a whole cannot be said with certainty, although industry reports would seem to suggest it does. Hay prices have recently averaged between £160-175 per tonne at fodder sales in the south.

Higher numbers of cows have already been slaughtered in 2018, which has led to a forecast contraction in both the dairy and beef breeding herds. Increasingly tight fodder supply could further exacerbate this situation as the winter progresses.