Dairy farmers voice concern over rising feed costs this winter

The Dairy Show is the biggest event of its kind in the UK

Dairy farmers in the West Country are preparing for a difficult winter with soaring feed costs set to squeeze their profits.

The annual Dairy Show took place in Somerset today (Wednesday 5 October) with farmers voicing concerns about the months ahead as they struggle with the impact of rising inflation and interest rates.

Dairy farm profits doubled in the milk year to 2021/22 and are set to continue improving this year, according to farm accountant Old Mill. But the company says soaring input costs remain a concern to all producers.

Average comparable farm profits among its clients increased to £371 per cow in the year to 31 March 2022, driven by a combination of slightly firmer milk prices and lower production costs.

Rural accountant Dan Heal said: “Cost increases are steadily coming through as fixed contracts for energy, feed and fertiliser come to an end, but the full effect will not be seen until the 2023/24 year.”

Mr Heal said that combined with higher fertiliser prices, the overall cost of production is set to jump by £259 per cow to £2,559 per cow this year.

The British Cheese Awards were held at the Dairy Show this year

Chair of The Dairy Show, David Cotton, said farmers will be preparing for the winter with caution.

He said: "One thing they'll think about is the amount of feed they have got to get them right through to next spring. They're then looking at feed prices, where they've got to buy in more feed, and that feed price has probably gone up 25% on last year.

"They've got to work out how they're going to manage that - whether they keep less cattle or whether they do carry on and just buy in more feed."

The Dairy Show, held at the Royal Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet, is the biggest event of its kind in the UK. It is primarily a business-to-business event and a chance for farmers to spend time away from the farm, picking up advice and up-to-date technology in the industry.

Head of Shows at the Royal Bath and West of England Society, Jess Chiplen, said: "We know that farming can be quite an isolating industry for those on farms, so it's a really lovely opportunity to get them here together.

"There's a real camaraderie that comes across here. It's a networking opportunity, a business opportunity and it's really lovely to see all those people coming together."