Farming challenges as animal feed usage levels hit new high
Statistics from AHBD points to a very challenging season whereby the production of compound feeds for animals in the month of October reached 1.1 million tonnes. These figures show a rise of 2% animal feeds production when compared to that of October in the year 2017. The 1.13 million tonnes includes both the animal’s feeds and the poultry units which are integrated. The 2% rise, increases the total amount of animal feeds of the whole season to a 4.6 million tone mark. These are extraordinary production levels that have ever happened since the 1995 record that was registered. These equals a 4% increase in the animal feeds as per the year 2017 only.
Hannah Clarke, who is the analyst for AHBD, attributed the large amounts of animal feeds production as a result of the ruminants “factor”. She registered her acknowledgement in the rise of animal feed usage, which came about as a result of unbearable hot and dry summer conditions that hindered the growth of pasture and forage.
The summer season which is usually characterised by very high temperatures, sunny and windy conditions, does not permit large-scale farming of animal feeds. Any available grass or forage is left exposed to adverse climatic conditions and therefore withers leaving animals with nothing to eat. However, she said that the high rates of animal feeds production were expected to reduce in the new coming season since the supply of cereals and its demand was encouraging. She added that the supply and demand from feed and chemical suppliers was as a result of preparations and anticipation of the winter climatic conditions which in most occasions are suitable for the growth of animal feeds.
Furthermore, Ms Clarke stated that, for the production to reduce and go back to normal conditions, the oncoming winter and spring conditions should be favourable to enable forage and pasture to grow. If not so, then the production levels were to remain high and perhaps increase more if the number of ruminants will increase too. Basing on the animal production levels during the months of October, sheep feeds registered the highest increase of 31 percent.
Many farmers did not have an alternative option, but to buy feeds for their animals especially those that had large numbers of breeding sheep. Approximately 17600 tonnes of animal feeds were used to feed the sheep since breeding sheep consumed a lot of food as a result of change in the animal psychology including using a lot of energy. This represented a 64.5% increase the feeds production when compared with the production levels of the previous year and the same months.
A 36% rise in compound usage for growing and finishing was also recorded during the four months. This projected to 135,700 tonnes used. Nevertheless, the feeds for the calves and cattle also registered an increase of 1.4 million tonnes which equals to a 6.8 percent rise. There was also an increase in the consumption of compound feeds for dairy cattle which reached 713,000 tonnes which is an equivalence of 5.3%. These are just but some of the big animals feed increases that were recorded.