The effects of last year's poor weather continue to be felt by livestock farmers across Scotland who are now struggling to source affordable fodder.

Spot market straw prices in Scotland have risen around £50/tonne since harvest 2017 due to weather related impacts on supply and demand. Current prices are around £130/t delivered in the Central Belt with more remote areas in the west and north paying another £15-£20/t and the islands more again.

The growing crisis prompted the Scottish Government to commission a report on the issue by SRUC, Scotland's Rural College.

SAC Consulting estimate than an example 110 cow upland beef herd may have incurred additional costs of around £8,000 due to higher straw use (from the extended housing period as a result of bringing cattle indoors earlier last year due to the wet weather) and the higher straw prices, leading to a potential reduction of 19 per cent in beef enterprise gross margin.

The study highlights a number of issues affecting the outlook for straw and forage availability including the growing possibility of a late spring boosting straw and forage use. SAC Consulting estimates that each week that livestock turn out to grass is delayed, adds potentially another 36,000t of straw demand in Scotland, at a cost of around £5m.

Pressure on dwindling supplies of fodder in the UK has increased recently as a result of the Republic of Ireland importing from England to alleviate its acute shortages. For instance, the Irish dairy farmers co-operative Dairygold had found it was no longer possible to source adequate supplies in Ireland for its members and has confirmed that it has organised the importation of over 2,500t from the UK.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 6 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 234p per kg and an average of 211.9p, while 6 prime bullocks peaked at 221p and levelled at 197.2p.

In the rough ring 26 beef cows sold to 155p and averaged 127.2p, while 51 dairy cows peaked at 147p and levelled at 114.6p.

There were also 460 prime hoggs that sold to £154 per head and 286p per kg to average 239.7p (+13.6p on the week).

A modest show of 145 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £154.50 for Texels and average £105.96, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £89.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £61.30.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 483 prime hoggs (including 310 Blackfaces) in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £137 and 265.9p to average 240.9p (+32.5p).

A very small show of 23 cast sheep saw ewes sell to £123 for Lleyns and £86 for Blackfaces.