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Looking first at 2013, the most obvious feature of the Meteorological

Office’s ‘anomaly’ chart is the fact that, in March 2013, average temperatures across the UK were 3.3 °C below normal, the latter described as the average of the years 1981 - 2010. If England is taken on its own, then average temperatures were 3.6 °C below normal. This seems likely to have played a significant role in the nutrition of cattle and calf in Great Britain, especially as it posed a problem for cattle and calves at turn-out at a time when stocks of winter forage will have been running low. It is worth noting, at this point, that total cattle and calf feed production in 2013 was at a record high for the period 1992 through 2016. Table 1 shows that there were also significant reductions in the

output of feeds for pigs in the years following 1999. Average production in the years 1992 through 1999 amounted to 2.35 million tonnes a year; average production in the succeeding decade and a half fell to 1.61 million tonnes. Albeit declining numbers of herds contributed to the decline, it would appear that, during the current decade, significant improvement of diets and, in consequence, feed conversion ratios were major contributors to the fall in output of feeds for pigs. In very recent years, however, there have been signs that this

trend may have been reversed. Production of 1.81 million tonnes of feeds for pigs in Great Britain during 2016, though slightly lower than in the preceding two years, was higher than the average production of pig feeds during the twelve years from 2002 to 2013, although it did not achieve the annual 2 million tonnes typically produced by feed manufacturers in Great Britain between 1992 and 1999. Taking the poultry feed market as constituted by the retail sector

alone, there are two factors that underlie any inspection of this sector. The first is that there appears to be a strong underlying growth in demand for poultry products: broiler chickens, other poultry meats, eggs and a variety of other products largely connected with breeding and rearing. The second factor is that there have been significant technical advances in terms of conversion rates which have given poultry a highly competitive edge in the market, partly but not entirely at the expense of other meats. Broiler and layer feed are the principal drivers of the market for

poultry feed, comprising 76.6 per cent of the total retail market for poultry feeds in 2016. At more than 3.98 million tonnes in 2016, it would be surprising if total production of poultry feed in Great Britain did not break through the 4 million tonne barrier to constitute itself as the largest single sector of feed production, challenged only by the cattle and calf feed sector, currently at 3.92 million tonnes in 2016. This would not include any contribution from the integrated sector. Total production of poultry feeds in the latter sector during 2016

amounted to 2.15 million tonnes which was over 70 per cent made up of feeds for broiler chickens. Comparison with data for 2014 suggests that something in the order of 350,000 tonnes of feed has subsequently been sold out of the integrated sector into the retail market but, in the absence of data prior to August 2015, whether this constitutes a regular market based on strategic grounds is not clear. Recent market developments and consumer trends have made the supplementary feeding of sheep a much more attractive proposition in


recent years. Production of feeds for sheep and lambs in Great Britain, at 796,800 tonnes in 2016 was, with one exception in 2013, the highest volume of production since DEFRA started to keep records in their present form. For sake of comparison, we may compare the 2016 total of just short of 800,000 tonnes with output in 1980 of 131,000 tonnes, albeit that the rate of increase in output throughout the 1980’s was sustained and significant. Supplementary feeding of sheep and lambs was being no longer

seen purely as an emergency measure in order, for example, to counteract the effects of unfavourable weather but part of an overall feeding strategy – although current feeding practice for sheep and lambs will still often perforce include the effects of weather as was emphatically the case in 2013. Reference has already been made to the exceptionally cold conditions that characterised March of that year and these are likely to have played a significant role in increasing production of feeds for sheep and lambs to record levels, particularly as regards compound feeds for both breeding and finishing animals. There have also been significant advances in the production of

feeds for horses and in the category of ‘other compounds, blends and concentrates’ of which a significant proportion appears to be feeds for fish (although data on this area is not readily forthcoming on the grounds that it is market-sensitive). Turning to the input side of the feed business, older members of the

trade may remember the fractious days of the 1980s when the debate centred around the high price of cereals, in particular of wheat, and the refusal in consequence of the animal feed trade to incorporate more home-grown wheat and other grains in their rations. The author who, at the time, was working for the Food and Drinks Industries Council, recalls the sometimes acerbic debate between farmers’ representatives and those of the livestock feed manufacturing industry which centred around the apparent reluctance of the latter to use more home-grown cereals and less of what were frequently - and venomously - termed ‘cereal substitutes’ (a term moderated by the feed industry which described the offending materials as cereal replacers) with maize gluten being the most notorious example. The key to the problem lay in policies designed to support

agriculture in what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) and, as regards wheat, the so-called Intervention Price. The latter was the price at which the European Commission would take surplus product off the market by stepping in and buying it up. Similar arrangements, adapted for specific products, were in place for other products. The problem was that those responsible for setting the Intervention

Price or its equivalent allocated the bulk of their considerations on the commodity being supported rather on the users of the product in question – the producer price rather than the user price, in other words. Production was thus encouraged while consumption was discouraged with the predictable result being the emergence of the grain mountains, the beef and butter mountains and the wine lakes; these products had to be stored at great expense, adding an additional burden to the existing cost of the Common Agricultural Policy. Moreover, the high cost of raw materials, partially as a result of the workings of the Intervention Price,

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