Livestock farmers are paying more than £200/acre for standing straw as demand for bedding has soared after last winter cleared barns of carryover stocks.

Auctions kicked off in earnest this week with the prospect of balers rolling straight into some crops after combining got under way across the country.

Somerset auctioneer Greenslade Taylor Hunt broke records as they sold 3,000 acres of straw over two evenings at Sedgemoor Auction Centre with seven lots of winter wheat achieving more than £200/acre.

See also: 6 alternatives bedding options to straw compared

Auctioneer Tom Mellor said: “Everyone in the industry knew prices were going to jump following the prolonged 2017-18 winter season, but the prices achieved are staggering.”

He described demand far outstripping supply, with prices west of Taunton averaging £168/acre for winter barley, £140/acre for winter wheat, and £129/acre for winter oats.

East of Taunton prices were some lower at £120/acre for winter barley, £119/acre for winter wheat and £88/acre for winter oats.


In Devon, prices have smashed through the record-breaking values seen in June with Stags auctioneer Chris Clapham reporting up to £150/acre being paid for winter barley.

Winter wheat had averaged £100/acre and even a light crop of spring oats made £85/acre, which was £10/acre above what winter barley crops were making last season.

Some farmers are already making plans to use alternatives this year, said Mr Clapham, with one buying up a poor-quality crop of grass to bale for bedding instead of forage.


Further north in Herefordshire, Brightwells have also reported strong demand for straw of all types, with auctioneer Rob Meadmore selling a heavy crop of oilseed rape straw for an average of £90/acre across 70 acres.

He said this was £30-40/acre more than what the crop was making last year, with winter wheat averaging £102.50/acre, some £20/acre up on last year.

It is likely the considerable variation in prices across the country reflect the varying quality of straw, with many growers reporting earlier in the season crops were light and short, while others were seeing better growth.

In Wales, Monmouthshire-based Williams Associates have reported winter wheat averaging £135/acre across 175 acres, while winter barley made £133/acre over 61 acres.

Worried about the prospects for winter? Got the prices in your area? Drop deputy business editor Andrew Meredith a line at [email protected]

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