Running a poultry enterprise has, for many, turned into a battle for short-term survival, as costs of production run far ahead of anything that can be realistically afforded.

All inputs have surged in price, but the rise in the price of feed, in particular, has now gone off the historical scale.

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The cost of feed wheat has been unavoidably affected by the conflict in Ukraine, but soya too has entered uncharted territory.

This ‘double whammy’ has pushed our Basic Layers’ Ration up by a further £50/tonne in the past six weeks to £392/tonne, adding to already record levels.

UK feed wheat continued climbing through April and touched £313 ex-farm at the end of the month, a rise of £60 since our last report.

US wheat

Adding further tension to the Black Sea troubles are poor reports from the US wheat crop and the freight strike in Argentina against a tight global market background.

With the conflict in Ukraine seemingly set to grind on for the foreseeable future, no one is forecasting a reversal in wheat prices anytime soon.

However, the possible resumption of exports from Russia could ease new crop prices.

At the same time, soya has continued climbing and has now swept past its previous brief high in August 2012 to pass £500/tonne for the first time.

As well as the knock-on effect on oilseeds from problems with Ukrainian sunflower production, there is concern about lower soya stocks in the US and a reduced crop in Brazil.

That said, with higher plantings in the US on the way, the longer-term outlook for soya prices could be more neutral.