An extremely wet summer which dragged out into the back-end is having serious repercussions on the quantity, quality, and price of fodder crops which are already up on 2022 values and expected to reach £200 per tonne.

With next to no continuous warm, dry days to make good quality hay after the Royal Highland Show, and a stop, start wet harvest, there is a real shortage of all types of fodder which has been accentuated by a wetter than normal summer and autumn south of the Border

“There is a real shortage of quality hay and straw – I wouldn’t be surprised if we run out nearer the end of the season,” said Douglas Aitken of Auchterarder-based Matthew Aitken forage contractors.

“Normally, we can buy better quality crops from the South if need be but it’s not there this year when the weather has been so bad. There is some pretty decent wheat straw about up here when it was baled slightly earlier but there is not the quality barley straw and a lot of it was chopped when the weather was so bad,” said Mr Aitken.

Commenting on the hay crop he said: “There is no perfect sheep hay, even in the south. Everyone eventually got their hay baled, so there is a lot of reasonable hay and ‘other’ hay.”

With continuous wet weather in September and October, Mr Aitken also believes there will be a real shortage of stock feed potatoes, turnips, and carrots available as any still to be harvested are being left in the ground until it dries up by which time the wet crop will have rotted away and the remainder will be salvaged for ware.

Further south, international fodder merchant, Philip Judge from Gloucestershire, said there is some quality crop available, but it is more expensive to buy with good quality sheep hay delivered into Scotland selling at £140-£160 per tonne, depending on the location, while wheat straw is trading at £110/t and good quality barley straw at £120.

“There is not the quality hay or barley straw about because the weather has been so bad with a lot of it wasted especially in the south-east,” said Mr Judge who added that there is more mediocre cow hay which is selling for £130 per tonne, delivered.

“Basically, crop quality is down this year and prices are up because there is more demand and because the price of machinery, lorries, and wages are up 30%. Demand for quality fodder from Ireland is also up by more than 100% purely because they too have had such bad summer/autumn weather.

“Farmers should expect prices to go up and they will get nearer £200 per tonne, but they have to be diligent because the crop might not necessarily be there to buy in February/March,” he told The SF.

The first fodder sale of the year through Fletcher and Taylor, at Stow-on-the-Wold backs up these claims, whereby 4500t was offered and sold above expectations. The auctioneers highlighted the two-tier hay making window – early June where superb quality was achievable, but lower yields, or the next opportunity in August and well into September, which produced cattle hay. The former they said was much demanded for its quality, colour, and nose, whereas the plentiful supply of the latter saw little interest at the current time.

Top prices for best quality 0.9m x 1.2m x 2.4m bales of wheat straw reached £45/bale with barley straw at £47/bale, whilst 0.7m x 0.8m x 2.1m bales of Meadow hay sold at £60/bale. Conventional bales of wheat straw made £3.25/bale.

Overall, winter wheat sold to £130/t to average £103; winter barley reached £157 to level at £128; spring barley peaked at £126 to average £109/t and spring oat straw averaged £130/t.

Seeded hay averaged £80/t with best quality meadow hay to £240/t to average £119; mixed quality hay to £114 to average £69. Haylage sold at £100/t to average £90 and wrapped bales of silage sold at £20 per bale.