Even though we are not yet in the middle of January, we have now finished the barley we had saved from the harvest for the cattle and are back buying on the open market.
There isn’t that much in it. At the moment, I reckon that the price we are paying for rolled barley now is, taking everything into account, little different from what we got for green barley at harvest.
Internationally, grain prices are now – in dollar terms – just below the price they were at this time last year, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the wild gyrations in price over the last year have made planning and budgeting incredibly difficult.
We have tried to take as few risks as possible, while still trying to make sure that we can continue to farm sensibly.
At the moment, I reckon that the price we are paying for rolled barley now is, taking everything into account, little different from what we got for green barley at harvest
Exactly the same is happening on the fertiliser side, where we again have tried to hedge our bets. We have bought and paid for about half our needs for the year ahead.
But natural gas prices have dropped like a stone and we are being advised to hang back before placing firm orders for the rest of our fertiliser needs.
Where will the price end up? I clearly haven’t a clue, but I must admit I would rather see politicians grapple with fertiliser supply and prices for the year ahead in the face of such volatility rather than legislating for reductions in methane emissions – but that’s all for another day.
In the meantime, we have to decide as best we can when we buy the rest of our fertiliser. This year, it’s likely that decisions around the timing of feed and fertiliser purchases will have more influence on farm profits, or lack of them, than proper farming.
I would rather see politicians grapple with fertiliser supply and prices for the year ahead in the face of such volatility rather than legislating for reductions in methane emissions
However, despite the gyrations, we will continue to sell cattle as they become fit and from now on, replace with younger stock. Our silage so far is lasting better than I feared, as we are supplementing it with wet grains from both brewing and distilling plants.
I assume that the increased cost of energy has made the drying of these grains uneconomic and so available for livestock within easy haulage distance. Over the Christmas, the production of spirits and beer stopped and we were forced to revert to soya, but they are back in business now so we will keep the expensive soya in reserve.
A few years ago, we kept some of our own beans to meet part of our protein needs. We didn’t this year, but if these wild fluctuations continue, we will, at the very least, carefully look at whether we should try to become more self-sufficient in feedstuffs for the cattle.