Forage survey confirms decline in grass silage quantities

Published 12 December 18

Every producer in the country seems to have been at the mercy of the weather in one way or another this year. Looking at forage production data from a survey carried out by The Andersons Centre, it is apparent that some areas have been more affected than others. Most of the country has recorded a decline in grass silage production, which is indicated to be down around 13% across the farms that have been surveyed. Recording particularly heavy declines are the Midlands area and Scotland, with the survey recording 33% and 20% declines respectively.


Forage survey analysis


Hay, haylage and other (non-grass) silage has fared a little better in some regions, with farms in the North and Wales increasing production somewhat significantly. Hay production favours the hotter and dryer weather however production is still down in the key livestock areas of Scotland and the South, a result of grass growth slumping through the summer.

Overall total forage production from the surveyed farms is down, by around 10%. Whether this trend matches the rest of the UK as a whole cannot be said with certainty, although industry reports would seem to suggest it does. Hay prices have recently averaged between £160-175/t at fodder sales in the south.

A high number of cows have already been slaughtered in 2018, which has led to a forecast contraction in both the dairy and beef breeding herds. Increasingly tight fodder supply could further exacerbate this situation as the winter progresses.

AHDB created the drought hub during this summer’s hot weather where farmers can go for a range of advice. A number of topics were covered, including how to manage grass and forage stocks over winter as well as making the best use of limited straw stocks. The AHDB Better Returns Programme also has a range of literature to help producers improve grazing management and ration control.