Wednesday, 10 August 2022
The prolonged dry period and record-breaking temperatures in July, coupled with low average rainfall have considerably hampered growth rates, with areas of Southern England at risk of being placed in drought status for the first time since 2018. Growth rates on GB dairy farms averaged 39kg DM/ha/day during July, compared to the 3-year average of 60kg. Beef and sheep farms averaged 28kg DM/ha/day, compared to 46kg recorded for 2019-2021. Whilst there may have been some impact on grass growth from missed fertiliser applications earlier in the year, rain is proving to be a more significant factor for growth rates currently being seen.
Recent cooler weather and smatterings of rain in parts of the country may corroborate with the recent uptick in average growth rates. However, without significant rain (which does not appear to be in the forecast for August), grass growth will continue to be limited. Some farmers were reporting the need to start feeding their winter forage as early as July due to lack of grazing. Prolonged buffer feeding will result in the need to budget and secure additional forage to sustain head count for the autumn and winter ahead, at a time when input costs are at an all-time high, further impacting margins which have already been constricted. This additional strain may further exacerbate the existing drop in overall milk production currently being seen and could lead to additional livestock being offloaded in the second half of the year, both factored into our latest outlooks.
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