Concentrate has seen a welcome reduction in price in recent weeks. Not all merchants/compounders have reduced prices in line with what straights ingredients are making, and this week’s Irish Farmers Journal meal price survey shows huge differences across the country in terms of prices being paid by farmers.

Prices in general are back by 18-20%, but if we look at rolled barley, prices are back to the tune of €100/tonne in the last 2 months compared to 2022 prices. Other key constituents of rations like maize and distillers have been hovering around the €250/tonne mark over the last couple of weeks.

Based on these prices it is hard to justify the over €400/tonne that some of the respondents to the meal survey are paying.

The advice is to price around and look for inclusion rates when purchasing your ration. If meal companies have nothing to hide, they will have no problem telling you what’s in the ration.

While meal companies will be quick to point out a rising market for soya bean meal in recent weeks, its low inclusion rate in rations should have very little consequence on rations.

Correct supplementation rates with concentrates is very important to make sure animals keep performing during the winter months.

Poor quality silage will need more supplementation. It’s a worry that just 20% of those farmers surveyed have tested silage quality on their farm.

A standard 1.5kg/day could result in very poor performance if silage quality was 65DMD. It’s also concerning that there are 30% of farmers who don’t have sufficient quantities of straw available on their farm.

Straw availability has become an issue in some parts of the country, with only 50% of farmers in the province of Ulster having enough straw sourced for the coming winter.

David Wright visits an impressive finishing operation in Co Tyrone while Martin Merrick takes a look at different meal feeding and storage options for farmers.