The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has confirmed that animal feed production levels in Great Britain have hit a six-year low.
This conclusion specifically relates to the period July to November 2022.
The trend is confirmed in AHDB’s most recently published cereal usage and animal feed production figures.
They show that total Great Britain animal feed production, including integrated poultry units (IPUs), was down 5% on year-earlier levels at 5.41mt.
This is the lowest level of feed production for the first five months of the season since 2016/17.
While all major animal feed categories are lower on the year so far (except sheep feed), the main driver of the decline, unsurprisingly, is the monogastric sector.
Compared to July to November 2021, total poultry feed production (including IPUs) was down 184 kilotonnes (kt) (-7%) at 2.48mt.
Both layer and broiler feed production has reduced by approximately 50kt respectively over the same period.
This trend reflects the pressure that many, both layer and broiler producers, have been under: A combination of squeezed margins, the avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak and the cost-of-living crisis impacting consumer buying habits.
Feed production breakdown
At 814kt, total pig feed production was down 9% on the year, from July to November, driven by drops in both finisher (-33kt) and breeder feed (-22kt) production.
The fall in pig feed production comes as the backlog of pigs on farm, caused by Covid-19 disruptions and labour shortages at abattoirs last year, is now thought to be relatively cleared.
For ruminants, total cattle and calf feed production was down by 2% for the July to November 2022 period. A rise was seen in dairy feed production, but it was outweighed by a drop in all other cattle feed.
Sheep feed is the only sector which has increased on year-earlier levels, with total production 10kt higher year-on-year from July to November.
AHDB is also pointing out that a reduction in animal feed production brings with it a fall in cereal usage.
From July to November 2022, wheat usage in total animal feed production dropped by 3%, while barley usage is down by 27% year-on-year.
It is expected that animal feed production in Great Britain will continue to decline over the coming weeks.
This trend will be largely driven by reductions in poultry and pig feed production. With high input costs expected to remain this feeding season, producer margins are going to continue to be squeezed.
On top of that, a shift in consumer buying habits is expected to continue, due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Despite a projected decline in animal feed production in the November UK cereal supply and demand estimates, wheat usage in animal feed (including fed on farm) was estimated to remain relatively unchanged on the year.
This is because the proportion of wheat used in rations is expected to rise due to its availability and price compared with other cereals. On the other hand, barley usage hs been forecast to decline by 5%.
If animal feed production declines more than initially anticipated, then we could see less cereal usage in animal feed.
This could add to the already substantial exportable surplus of grains from the UK, if other feed industry-related parameters remain unchanged.