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WEATHER WATCH Slightly to my surprise, January 2011 was slightly colder than ‘normal’, according to the Meteorological Offi ce – about 0.3 °C across the UK as a whole but with Wales down by 0.7 °C and Northern Ireland by a full degree Celsius. However, the UK also had only eighty-three per cent of its ‘normal’ rainfall, giving rise to gloomy predictions of drought and another awful year for pasturage. Sunshine was a little in short supply in southern England in January but, across the UK as a whole, there was fi fteen per cent more than usual. In Northern Ireland, the cold was compensated for by 71 per cent more sunshine than the province is normally entitled to during January! The exceptionally cold weather that characterised December

2010 was referred to in the last edition of Feed Compounder; the question is the extent to which it affected feed production. The answer, I think, is not as much as one might have thought, although there will have been regional variations on which, since MAFF discontinued collecting regional feed production data fi fteen years ago, we cannot comment. The most obviously apparent weather- related effect was in sheep feed production which, at 76,300 tonnes, was 17,700 tonnes or 30.2 per cent up on December 2009. Cattle feed production was up by a surprisingly small 10,800 tonnes or 2.8 per cent. Pig and poultry feed production also advanced by small amounts over year-earlier levels. Still, as a whole and in volume terms, 2010 turned out to be a good year in Great Britain. Total production of compounds, blends and concentrates

amounted to 9.85 million tonnes, the highest in eleven years and 651,300 tonnes up on 2009. Cattle and calf feed production, at 3.91 million tonnes, was at its highest level since 1996 with the largest increases in percentage terms compared with 2009 being achieved by blends for both dairy and other adult cattle. Dairy blends in 1996 constituted around nine per cent of all manufactured dairy feeds, remaining at about that proportion until 2002 when they appeared to have achieved critical mass. Since then it has been uninterrupted growth culminating, in 2010, with 772,600 tonnes of dairy blends accounting for just over 28 per cent of all manufactured dairy feeds. Blends for other adult cattle, too peaked in 2010 with 307,500 tonnes accounting for just over a third of all manufactured feeds for non-dairy cattle. Output of pig compounds, at 1.6 million tonnes was 87,200

tonnes or 6.4 per cent up on 2009; what the numbers will look like in the early months of 2012, judging from the desperate position of the pig industry regarding costs and prices does not bear thinking about. Production of poultry feed broke through the three million tonne mark for the fi rst time since records were kept in their present


form and, at 3.13 million tonnes, was 8.3 per cent up on 2009 with broiler chicken feed showing particularly strongly. The integrated sector also added just short of a hundred thousand tonnes to its production in 2009, overwhelmingly because of increased broiler chicken feed production. Finally, at 790,400 tonnes, production of sheep and lamb feed constituted a record, the extra 107,400 tonnes being largely being made up of compounds for both breeding and fi nishing sheep. As I have already noted, output of sheep and lamb feeds appears to have been the sector most affected by the December weather and I shall be very interested to see what the outcome for January and February looks like. There may be some revisions to the fi gures when DEFRA have

collated the results of the annual survey of the smaller brethren which, as I understand it, they will do in May with the result that the totals for 2009 were revised downwards by 41,500 tonnes. More on this in due course but, in volume terms at least, 2010 did not turn out too badly.

VOLATILITY RULES OK? The Wynnstay Group observed, in their annual accounts for the year ending 31 October 2010 (see next story), ‘Having started at levels signifi cantly below the previous year, raw material prices rose steeply towards the end of the fi nancial year’. And it would seem that there is no immediate relief in sight.

Having averaged $325.60 FOB ex-Gulf in January 2011, sixty-one per cent up on year-earlier levels, Soft Red Winter wheat opened February at $351.75. Hard Red Winter on the same basis averaged $347.60 in January, $133.20 or sixty-two per cent up on year-earlier levels. It opened February at $376.55. The same source quoted Brazilian soybeans FOB Paranagua at $531.40, $104 or twenty-six per cent higher than in January 2010; no quotations were available for Argentine material where I understand that a long-running strike by dock workers has recently been settled, if only on a temporary basis. Closer to home, the average Great Britain ex-farm feed wheat price for January delivery was £193 with feed barley at £175.75. The price for April movement was £196, climbing to almost £202 for the fi rst fortnight of May. In late January, the International Grains Council returned to

the forecasting fray after their December break with their fi rst assessment of the world grain supply and demand situation in 2011. Compared to their November 2010 projection, they increased their estimate of world wheat production by three million tonnes and total end-of-season stocks by fi ve million tonnes. Nevertheless, IGC pointed out that, while there had been ‘little fundamental change’ in the world supply and demand situation during December and January, markets remained volatile with concerns over extremely

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