Farmer forced to feed cattle with winter stock

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LACK of rain has resulted in slow growth of grass and grain, causing concern for farmers.

Some farmers are being forced to feed cattle silage – fodder preserved for winter months – due to little rainfall this spring.

Farmer Martin Bazeley runs Offwell Farm, Southwick.

He owns 225 dairy cows and has said it’s the first time in decades he is having to supplement their feed.

Mr Bazeley said: ‘Usually at this time of the year we would need one inch of rainfall a week.

‘We have had about one inch since March – so we’re not even getting one inch a month.

‘That is why it’s a worrying time.

‘In May we make silage, and in June hay, but at the moment cows are getting supplement feeds because enough grass isn’t growing.

‘This is not a good scenario.

‘1976 was the last time it was as serious as this.

‘I’m worried that it means I will have to buy in feed for my cows in the winter.’

Mr Bazeley also grows barley and wheat, which have also been growing at a slower rate.

‘On the cropping side, although everyone recognises the big, yellow flowers of oilseed rape, they are not growing as much as they should do,’ added Mr Bazeley.

‘What we have is pretty measly.

‘What also concerns me is we won’t have suitable barley for beer making.

‘People ask if this means we will see food prices go up. I think it will almost inevitably.’

Isobel Bretherton, spokeswoman for the South East branch of the National Farmers’ Union, said: ‘The ongoing dry weather is becoming a concern and we would like to see some rain imminently to see grass grow.’