Dairy farmers face €3m hit on milk protein levels
Under pressure dairy farmers are facing a €3m hit due to a significant drop in milk protein levels through June, with payments to individual suppliers likely to be back by as much as €200 to €300.
Processors confirmed that protein levels in milk dropped by close to 0.1pc in early June, falling from an average of 3.5pc in 2015 to 3.41pc for the same period this year.
This fall in protein content converts to a milk price reduction of almost 0.5c/l. Even allowing for an improvement in milk solids as the month progressed, the overall cost of the protein drop could exceed €2.50/cow or €3.25m across the national herd.
With cheques for June milk due to go out to farmers from this week, the likely payment reductions due to lower protein levels could range from €180 to €240 for the average 80-cow herd. The drop could reach €270-360 for 120-cow herds.
The fall-off in milk protein was blamed on the rapid increase in grass growth at the start of June.
Teagasc dairy specialist John Donworth said cows were in grass "up to their udders" at the time and the feed value of these swards was hit as a result.
He said the price hit piled extra pressure on dairy farmers at a time when cash flow was already extremely tight.
"It won't break the bank but it is piling misery on misery," Mr Donworth said.