NEW DIET: Plainland equestrian coach Sharyn Ross with her horse Tommy. Ms Ross was forced to change her feeding regimen for her three horses due to the increased cost of feed caused by the drought during the past six months.
NEW DIET: Plainland equestrian coach Sharyn Ross with her horse Tommy. Ms Ross was forced to change her feeding regimen for her three horses due to the increased cost of feed caused by the drought during the past six months. Dominic Elsome

Sky-rocketing costs force livestock owners to alternatives

THE drought gripping the nation is affecting countless farms and producers.

But the flow-on effects of the big dry are starting to hit even those who would normally remain largely unaffected.

A perfect storm of increased demand and reduced supply, both caused by the drought, has seen feed prices soar.

E.M Remond and Co. Produce's Raymond Schulz said prices on a range of feed products had been rising for some time at his Gatton shop.

"Feeds have sky-rocketed in the last six months - it started with the lucerne last year, and they went for the highest level they've been here - ever," he said.

"The grain prices have risen 25 per cent, at least."

It's not just processed grain feed and chaff being affected, with Mr Schulz reporting the cost of dog food had risen sharply and supplies of bird seed beginning to run low.

After a disappointing grain season on the east coast, many suppliers may be forced to source grain and seed from overseas, potentially increasing prices further.

Plainland equestrian coach and Lockyer Equestrian Group president Sharyn Ross said the soaring cost of feed meant she was forced to rethink her feeding regimen for her three horses.

"I changed them from commercial pre-mixes onto more of a whole-food diet last year, just because they were getting so expensive," Ms Ross said.

It's cut my feed bill by about half.

At first, the small price increases hadn't worried Ms Ross, but as the months went on and prices kept rising, something had to give.

"It's a couple of dollars here and there, and then goes up and it goes up and it goes up," she said.

"I had to make a call and go, 'well it's costing me a fortune to feed these animals - what can I do'."

Ms Ross believes many horse owners will be looking at what they're feeding and where they can save money.

"They're are already talking about hay, this coming winter being worse than last year," she said.

Raymond Schulz agreed and said prices were likely to get worse before they improved.

He suggested now was the time to look to stock up.

"There's plenty of lucerne around at the moment, it grows quick this time of year... if you've got the place to keep it, get that now."

Raymond Schulz of E.M.Redmond & Co Produce, Gatton.
Raymond Schulz of E.M.Redmond & Co Produce, Gatton. Dominic Elsome

Dry causing 70 per cent grain price rise

GRAIN prices are up to 70 per cent higher compared with the same time last year.

Despite dropping slightly on pre-Christmas rates, Australian domestic wheat, barley and oat prices have been driven up by the significant drop in production due to drought.

Rabobank senior grains and oilseeds analyst Cheryl Kalisch Gordon said globally wheat prices were up about 20 per cent year-on-year and 70 per cent domestically, while world barley prices were up 25 per cent and 70per cent locally.

"They are staggering increases and it shows the drought deficit. If you look at wheat, year-on-two-years prices are up 100 per cent," Dr Kalisch Gordon said.

She said globally there had been a tightening of supply, keeping prices high.

"We think in the second half of this year when more northern hemisphere wheat comes on to the market, prices will drop back," she said.

Domestically, Dr Kalisch Gordon said it would depend on what happened with the season in March-April.

Prices will probably stay positive until harvest 2019 because stocks are so low.

Last Monday, Australian Premium White wheat was sitting at $442/tonne, delivered Melbourne, compared to $265/tonne last year - an increase of 67 percent.

Malt 1 barley was making $385/tonne, delivered Melbourne, up 45 per cent on the $264/tonne last year, while feed 1 barley was at $390/tonne, up from $248/tonne last year, or 57 per cent.

Milling oats were sitting at $502/tonne, compared to $205/tonne at the same time last year - an increase of 144 per cent.

Canola prices were also higher year-on-year domestically, despite being flat globally, sitting at $609/tonne.


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