Forage Aid urges farmers to start planning winter feed and bedding strategy

Forage Aid Trustees are urging farmers around the United Kingdom to start forward planning how they can manage and build winter forage and bedding stocks following the cold, wet spring of 2021.

The charity has been receiving reports of shorter stocks of straw in livestock areas, however forage yields do seem to be holding up considering the poor start to the spring.

Forage Aid Founder and Chairman Andrew Ward MBE said ‘Our Trustees have been monitoring forage and bedding stocks in their own areas. Whilst the results are anecdotal, we do have growing evidence that forage stocks are looking better than expected, however stocks of straw are low and prices are rising. Our experience shows that these conditions normally lead to problems later in the year.’

Livestock farmers have found it challenging to build forage and bedding stocks over the last few years as droughts, wet weather and cold spells have all challenged the ability to grow and conserve forage. Forage Aid have found it increasingly difficult to encourage donations of forage, and where Trustees have agreed to support an application for support the charity has found itself in a position of having to purchase forage and straw rather than rely on donations.

‘We are encouraging livestock farmers to start planning for winter 2021/22 and how they can conserve enough forage to see them through to next spring. We are also urging farmers to start planning straw purchases for the winter ahead as we see this a real pinch point. Get in touch with your merchant early and start discussing how you can get supplies onto the farm.’ said Meurig Raymond, Forage Aid Trustee and former President of the National Farmers Union.

Longstanding Trustee, Ed Ford, also put out a rallying call to his fellow arable farmers about baling straw for livestock farms and encouraged more collaboration between the two sectors, ‘With arable crop prices looking healthy it might be an easier decision not to bale straw, however we would be grateful if all arable farmers considered baling some straw and get it into the system to ensure that our livestock areas have good access to bedding materials across the winter.’ Early engagement by arable and livestock farmers with their local straw merchants will enable all parties to plan for winter with stocks being matched up with buyers early in the season.

Over the years Forage Aid has helped many farmers following extreme weather events and the most challenging years have been those where drought has been the problem. Sourcing surplus forage and bedding for donation in a tough weather year is exceptionally difficult and makes it much harder to help farmers in need. Planning for the event becomes critical at times like these. Please help yourself and the industry by planning ahead and building a resilience plan for your farm business.

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