By-product feed price stable

Photo by Simon Bingham

Supplementary feed is an important input for dairy farm operations and can be one of the largest production costs a farm can incur.

Many farmers across the Australian dairying regions are increasingly looking to incorporate other feed types to meet nutrient deficits, one of which is feeding by-products.

Results from the 2023 National Dairy Farmer Survey (NDFS) show that 12 per cent of farmers in Victoria fed their milking herd feed by-products in the last year.

Dairy Australia’s by-products report captures the feed by-products market across various regions in Victoria and southern NSW, providing monthly indicative prices and insights to farmers.

Prices for most feed by-products remain steady or have been under some downward pressure over the recent months.

This is similar to domestic hay and grain markets, as some regions still have green feed available, and many farmers are covered by on-farm fodder stocks for at least the short-term.

Additionally, some demand for supplementary feed is being met by the significant amount of lower quality fodder moving through the market, keeping somewhat of a cap on demand for, and prices of, fibre-based by-products.

This has placed some downward pressure against the generally higher prices seen for the energy-based by-products that are benchmarked off the value of wheat, barley, and soy protein — all of which have jumped since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Over the past few months, feed by-product availability has remained generally strong due to increased output from both harvests and the return of food processing closer to normal levels.

Additionally, after reports of increasingly tight supply of almond hulls and tightly held contracts for canola meal, the availability of both may be improved, with a big parcel of almond hulls hitting the market in the past couple of weeks and an excellent canola crop expected this season.

Despite this, canola meal contract interest does remain high, with August being a peak month for booking new season’s product. There are indications that new season canola meal prices are currently around $520/tonne ex-plant.

Additionally, while road freight accounts for around 75 per cent of the cost of almond hulls moving east from northern Victoria and the Riverina, freight issues have improved somewhat, and prices have eased slightly from July.

Looking ahead though, with heavy canola plantings and favourable growing conditions so far this season, there are expectations that there will be adequate seed available for further processing. This will likely help with canola meal availability later this year.

Additionally, there are now reports of palm kernel meal being available out of Melbourne for the first time in years.

Recently, demand for supplementary feed and by-products has picked up in line with wet conditions taking hold across Victoria and other southern dairying regions in July and dry conditions persisting across northern NSW.

As such, farmers are looking to replenish supplies, and this could start to push prices up for some feed by-products in the coming months.

Subscribe for monthly feed by-products updates and access the full report via the Dairy Australia website:

Isabel Dando is a Dairy Australia industry analyst.