Farmers are being reassured that feed supply chains are fulfilling demands, with options available to meet nutrient requirements, amid concerns over access to raw materials and price hikes.
“The overriding message to farmers is ‘do not panic’, be reassured that while there is a tightening in some supply channels of feed ingredients, alternatives are available,” explains KW Alternative Feeds market strategy manager, Andrew Willis.
There has been something of a knee-jerk reaction, similar to the ‘panic-buying’ witnessed in UK supermarkets, with initial fears of lack of availability of some raw materials, driving prices upwards.
“Raw material supply, particularly imports, remain under some pressure due to availability and currency challenges – however, these are improving from the initial ‘shocks’ due to COVID19,” adds Andrew.
An example includes the impact on mid-proteins caused by the lack of demand for the core product. With falls in crude oil prices, demand for bio-diesel, in which rapeseed oil is used, has been reduced significantly, resulting in a tightening of rapeseed meal and dried distillers grains availability.
Closer to home, some challenges have been experienced such as reduced brewers grain availability, with reduced demands for cask and keg beers due to the closure of bars and restaurants.
However, there is volume available due to supply from the beer canning and bottling brewing industry, and this will be useful as a forage extender, depending on rainfall over the coming weeks and months.
Despite these challenges, KW is confident in the supply chain, with options and alternatives available to meet animal nutrient requirements.
Georgie Croxford, KW head of technical ruminant, explains, “We have a range of options available encompassing straights, blends, moist feeds and liquids. Bespoke blends are formulated from a wide variety of raw materials, meeting specific requirements, and are available UK wide.
“There are some valuable moist feed and liquid co-products available from the starch and glucose supply chain,” she adds. “Molasses products, sourced locally and imported, are readily available to provide energy from sugar.”
Georgie explains that some high protein liquids, and limited amounts of moist grains from the brewing industry are also available.
“For those wanting to support milk constituents and high milk output, we have a ready supply of protected fats in stock, with more product arriving over the next few weeks, and no supply-chain problems anticipated,” says Georgie.
“A good option for those dealing with low milk price, or requests from processors for reduced milk volume, is to make best use of grazed grass for later lactation cows, whilst protecting early lactation cows with full total mixed ration, or appropriate buffer feed.
“Appropriate mineral supplementation, especially magnesium for those at grass, is essential for all animals,” she adds.
Andrew concludes, “As social distancing measures are eased, we expect those product supply chains that have been particularly affected to improve. We are optimistic that we have navigated the ‘low-point’ in supply and we can expect the situation to improve from here.”