Pig farmers in east of England fear straw shortage

Pigs (Photo: VT Freeze Frame)
Image caption Pig farmers are currently losing £20 per pig, say campaigners

A farmers' group says the east of England drought is creating a shortage of straw threatening pig farming in Herts, Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk.

Pig-keepers are currently paying record straw prices due to the dry weather.

The National Pig Association (NPA) is calling on arable farmers to sell leftover straw to help.

"There is going to be significant straw deficit in the eastern half of England," said Howard Revell from the National Pig Association (NPA).

"We need all arable farmers to go the extra mile to help keep pig farmers in business," he added.

Cereal straw is primarily used by pig farmers for bedding, but its high price has forced many to use poorer-quality straw from oilseed rape which is also in shortage.

"It's difficult - we've got to have straw," said Norfolk farmer Trevor Cullen, who owns 5,000 pigs at Spooner Row near Wymondham.

"If you run out of straw you're in a muddle.

"On the Brecks and the lighter lands there's damage being done to the cereal crops and the straw will be more or less non-existant.

Image caption It is feared a straw shortage could severely affect business for pig farmers

"What we're hoping is that arable farmers who don't normally keep their straw will bail it and allow the livestock boys to purchase it off them."

Last week a state of drought was declared by the Environment Agency in west Norfolk, west Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Irregation restrictions are currently being imposed on many farmers in the affected areas.

The drought has also caused the cost of the animals' feed to rise significantly.

The Pigs Are Still Worth It campaign said producers at the moment were losing around £20 on every pig they rear.

"It's going to be very, very difficult this year," said Mr Cullen.

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