August 6, 2018


Scotland farmers fear potential shortage of animal feed


An animal feed crisis in Scotland could happen, prompting the warning of local farmers who have appealed to the Scottish government for assistance.

The possibility of a productive growing season faltered due to dry summer months in recent days, while a long winter had already exhausted fodder reserves from 2017 stockpiles, The Herald reported. The situation worsens with the shortage of grass in several farms, leaving little for storage in preparation for Scotland's next winter.

Farmers are concerned that two lost growing months cannot now be caught up, raising the risk of inadequate supplies of animal feed. Worried over uncertainties pertaining to Brexit, the Scottish Tenant Farmers' Association (STFA) requested a meeting with Rural Economy CabSec Fergus Ewing to discuss ways to help the livestock industry cope with the challenging months ahead. 

"The picture being painted fro Shetland to Wigtownshire is one of an impending crisis with grass growth at a virtual standstill, despite some welcome rain [recently]... and hay and silage crops between half and two thirds of normal," Christopher Nicholson, chairman of STFA, said.

"Dairy farmers are having to eat into winter silage rations, buy whole crop silage or face drying off or selling cows to maintain production. The grass shortage has hit cattle markets and the autumn store lamb sales face uncertain trade.

Farmers would usually "utilise arable by-products" like straw, carrots and potatoes and "supplement with concentrates or distillery by-products such as draff and pot ale syrup" whenever fodder supplies take a hit, Nicholson explained.

"These alternative feeds are now difficult and prohibitively expensive to source; draff is in short supply for a number of reasons, straw also looks like being equally scarce and, as we have stated before, the situation is being exacerbated by tens of thousands of acres of crop as well as tonnes of distillery by-products being diverted towards the renewable energy sector in supplying AD (anaerobic digestion) plants and biomass boilers," he said.

Phil Stocker, chief executive of National Sheep Association (NSA), also blamed potential feed shortage on the diversion of feed stock, cereal, maize and grass to energy production.

"That is why NSA is calling for a rethink around incentives for AD plants and large-scale biomass burners," Stocker remarked.

"If land being cropped for AD plants was still growing crops for livestock feed, there would be far less concern over the increasing risk of winter feed shortages that are now looking certain."

- The Herald