Farmers hoping for lower feed prices in the new year look set to be disappointed as the costs of various grain and key protein straights such as soya are rising at pace.

Feed merchants have left ration prices unchanged from the start of the month, but there are signs price increases are inevitable on some rations in the coming weeks.

There had been some expectation towards the end of 2022 that feed prices could potentially ease as barley, maize and wheat prices trended downwards.

Imported barley

Imported barley slipped to just over £250/t early last month, although it has gradually crept up since then.

Price quotes for merchants buying on forward contracts hit £277/t this week for imported barley, which is a price similar to maize.

Allowing for transport, handling and margin, that would see new stocks of barley delivered on farm again costing above £300/t.


Along with a rise in the cost of barley, there has been a sharp lift in the price of soya bean. Spot markets have seen soya rising above £540/t when purchased on forward contracts, which would equate to an on-farm price in the region of £570/t.

Soya has increased by £35/t in just over two weeks and risen by more than £100/t from October. Higher soya prices have meant demand for other proteins has surged, inflating their market value.

The situation is not being helped by continued weak sterling, with most protein grains traded in US dollars.


The end result is that feed mills state that price increases for higher protein rations are unavoidable during the early stages of 2023, with dairy and sheep rations, which are typically 18% to 20% protein, most vulnerable.

In contrast, some merchants point out that beef finishing rations, which tend to be low in protein and high in cereal content, are insulated against further price hikes for now.


Meanwhile, price quotes for CAN have eased to around £650/t, although there are some deals as low as £630/t for larger quantities.

Quotes for urea are running around £100/t above CAN prices, with protected urea costing another £40/t.

At the outlined quotes, urea is still better value for money than CAN. Each kg of nitrogen within urea works out at 163p whereas 1kg in CAN works out at 240p.

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