It’s the last straw! Britain faces a hay shortage as wet spring forces farmers to use up the animal feed while grass grows slowly
- A poor spring means grass has been slow to grow so farmers have used more hay
- The animal feed was already in short supply following last year’s dry summer
- Meanwhile stockpiling of the feed due to Covid led to more pressure on market
The proverb may tell us to make hay while the sun shines – but this year’s good weather has been so long coming that it has sparked a national shortage of the animal feed.
A poor spring means grass has been slow to grow, so farmers and stables have had to use more hay, sending demand soaring.
The crop was already in short supply following last year’s dry summer, while stockpiling of the feed due to the pandemic has led to more pressure on the market.
This ‘perfect storm’ of factors means the price of a large bale – roughly 16st – has doubled from £35 to £70 in less than 12 months.
A poor spring means grass has been slow to grow, so farmers and stables have had to use more hay, sending demand soaring (file photo)
April Gingell, from the British Straw and Hay Merchants’ Association, warned: ‘Some areas have all but run out. For farmers, it is an expensive year. Prices have gone up tremendously in some cases.’
Some merchants are limiting sales to regular customers or putting restrictions on how many bales people can buy.
Lynn Cutress, chief executive of Redwings, the UK’s largest horse sanctuary, said: ‘After heavy rain and flooding at Christmas, followed by snow and a subsequent thaw, we had to use more of our hay supplies than usual.
‘We grow as much of our own hay as possible, but our yields from the year were already down 30 per cent.
‘This, coupled with lower yields nationally and increasing prices, created a perfect storm. We ended up purchasing the remaining hay from Scotland.’
She said the charity had spent an extra £100,000 on hay which ‘placed significant pressure on already stretched budgets following the pandemic’.
There have also been low yields of straw prompting farmers to use woodchip, sand and even shredded egg boxes for animal bedding.
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