Livestock farmers set to get help with feed budgeting

Fergus Ewing

The Scottish Government is to offer free feed budgeting advice to livestock farmers in the wake of fodder shortages and rising straw prices.

Following the inaugural meeting of the government’s Agriculture Weather Advisory Panel, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the scope of the Farm Advisory Service had been increased to help producers who failed to make enough winter feed as a result of a wash-out summer.

“Scottish Government has increased the scope of the Farm Advisory Service to include one-to-one specialist advice to farmers and crofters on the use of feed budgeting to better manage livestock dietary needs, particularly over the winter period and in light of increased straw prices,” said Mr Ewing.

He said the government was also teaming up with rural charity RSABI to create six pilot farms in the west of Scotland, to offer advice to producers on feed budgeting, and a series of workshops on winter resilience were planned.

“The Agriculture Weather Advisory Panel is due to meet again in January and I’m sure it will give further consideration to these and other pressing issues at that time,” added Mr Ewing.

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker who sits on the panel welcomed the news.

He said: “An accurate feed budget would allow farmers to make plans to augment their forage stocks or reduce the number of cattle they plan to carry through the winter to stretch out the forage that they have.”