I have only heard of one farm which has made a similar quantity of hay to last year. Every other farmer we have spoken to is down by an average of 50% yield. We are down on silage by the same despite being inventive with what and where to cut. As yet we have no hay made as our Stewardship agreements do not allow cutting before 15th July and since that date we have been making silage and combining the oil seed rape.
This dire set of circumstances, on top of the continued lack of summer grazing, is potentially catastrophic, not just for farmers, but for the horse industry too. Small bale hay is already up to £7.00 per bale in some parts, what might the price next February, especially if the weather was bad? Animal welfare could become quite an issue for anyone not prepared to plan ahead and if need be pay up to ensure enough stocks. Last winter my horse ate one whole bale a day through the worst weather and even I need to stock up again. What hay we make here isn’t always good enough quality for horses and even I have to buy from another farmer. Jethro now owes me 31 good bales of best horse hay. I bought them at £3.00 per bale and the same bales from the same farm are now £6.00 per bale. It is not the money I want but the exact replacement of my goods. Could this be contentious issue, I do hope not!
Jethro is planning to ammonia treat all his straw from the arable crops to feed the cattle and bulk up what hay and silage we do have.
A lot now depends on what kind of autumn the whole country has, how much rain, and whether we get a prolonged flush of autumn grass.
Rain dance anyone? Yes please, but not until after the wheat is harvested!