After what has been a poor Spring, following on from an even worse summer and winter last year, milk production finally showed improvement in late May and early June.
With Spring temperatures seemingly a month behind, Meadow Foods’ milk production peaked in the first week of June, following a good spell of weather. The improving grass growth is naturally helping production volumes although total annual volumes are still lagging behind previous years. It would be a mistake however, to suggest it’s now ‘business as usual’ as without that initial slug of milk that we would have had in a normal spring flush, dairy stocks are much tighter than usual.
In addition, statistics recently published by BCMS & Dairy Co related to the numbers of cows calving in the UK this year show that, so far in 2013, numbers have been down on last year – with a significant drop in March. This could be in part due to some cows struggling to get in calf last Summer, again a result of the stress caused by the bad weather.
The number of early lactation cows in the system is lower, which in turn hits production, as these are the cows that potentially produce the most milk. Importantly, other figures produced by Dairy Co also show that the number of cows culled last October was significantly higher than in previous years.
Currently volumes are holding up, perhaps better than they otherwise would, due to good grass growth. However with more unsettled weather apparently looming, forecasted volumes could drop away quickly.
With this is mind, and with the depressing news from the Met. Office conference that we are likely to face another 10 years of poor summers, are we likely to see more farmers moving to all year housing to minimise the variable effect on production that the weather can have?