British compound feeds production for all farm livestock rose by 3.5 percent in 2012, on new data from the governmental department (DEFRA) responsible for agriculture. This included growth rates of 1.5 percent for poultry feed (to 5.56 million metric tons) and 3.4 percent for pig feeds (to 1.52 million metric tons). An even sharper increase of 4.5 percent was recorded for cattle feeds, taking their total to 3.692 million tons.

However, dairy feeds were the most revealing of the cattle segments, up to 1.98 million metric tons from 1.93 million as bad weather forced milking herds to house their grazing cows either earlier or more frequently.

An assessment of input costs for British herds has been prepared by the DairyCo division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). It shows cost increases over the last 12 months of 58 percent for soybean meal, nearly 52 percent for feed wheat and almost 19 percent for high-energy feed. The result was a heavy impact on herd margins where cows had to be brought in from grazing and therefore were given more feed that had been more expensive to purchase. Long-term climate change has the potential to mean fewer grazing days per year on more occasions and therefore extra production costs for milk, UK advisers have warned. 

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More routine metrics of supply and demand are affecting the British pig industry, as high feed costs clash with moderate pig prices to undermine producers’ profitability.

The effect is evident in new British data for the production of compound feeds for breeding sows. These sow feed volumes have fallen by around 4 percent nationally even as the output of other pig feeds rose last year. Feed manufacturers in Britain may struggle to maintain their sow feed sales again in 2013, with another 4 percent in the animal inventory of pig breeding herds said to be possible because of the ongoing poor profitability.