Livestock farmers struggling to feed animals

LIVESTOCK farmers who are struggling to feed their animals after one of the worst harvests on record could be given a lifeline thanks to a leading rural charity.

The Addington Fund, which helps house homeless farming families in England and Wales, says many farmers are running out of animal feed and the cost is soaring.

Charity director Ian Bell said the problem was likely to get worse in the coming months, prompting the Fund to set up an emergency relief scheme aimed at helping farmers feed their stock.

He said sheep farmers would be hit especially hard as lambing season got underway, against a backdrop of depressed market prices due to the financial crisis in Europe.

“We see major problems ahead,” said Mr Bell.

“Thousands of acres are still under water which means farmers have been unable to plant next year’s crops.”

Grain yields are down around 14 per cent meaning more has to be imported while the price of hay and straw has rocketed.

“We are having to re-house a farming family every 56 days,” added Mr Bell, who encouraged farmers to sell cattle now rather than waiting for the traditional time of April.

“The market for store cattle in very buoyant and one option may be to sell some cattle now which would save on the amount of bedding straw and feed needed over the winter months,” he added.

Mr Bell’s comments echoed those of Scottish farming charity RSABI chief executive Maurice Hankey, who said the organisation had been inundated with calls from families who were ‘struggling to cope’.

Last month the NFU opened its Fodder Bank Scheme to help farmers with shortages and surpluses of cattle feed and bedding. 

The details of the Addington Fund relief scheme will be announced at the Plough Wednesday event in London on January 16.

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