Business Farming

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Milk output surges as grass growth hits record highs

Indian Summer delivers a farming bonus with rainfall less than 10pc of October average in some areas

Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30

Milk production is up by as much as 50pc on some farms.
Milk production is up by as much as 50pc on some farms.

The unseasonally dry and mild October weather has delivered a farming bonus, with grass growth up to 30pc above normal, milk production up by as much as 50pc on some farms, and ideal conditions for winter cereals increasing acreage by an estimated 10pc.

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The surge in milk output is partially compensating for dairy and tillage prices that have dipped below the cost of production.

Met Eireann data shows that rainfall for the first half of the month is less than 10pc of the October average at Moorepark and Ballyhaise, while Athenry and Cork are at 13pc and 14pc respectively.

Temperatures are up to 1.5C above average for the month.

Teagasc's Dr Michael O'Donovan predicted that 2015 would surpass the record-setting grass yields of 2014.

"Grass growth last week was 30pc higher than the same week last year. We expect grass growth in 2015 will surpass that of 2014, which was an excellent grass producing year," he said. The shoulder periods of April and September to October were giving 2015 the edge on last year, he added.

Grazing

But Mr O'Donovan cautioned farmers not to lose sight of the need to close off paddocks over the coming weeks to ensure adequate grazing in February 2016.

Teagasc tillage specialist, Michael Hennessy described it as a "fantastic" autumn for cereal farmers, despite a harvest that was up to three weeks late in many areas of the country.

"Well sown is half grown, and this year the early-sown winter crops are well advanced because conditions have been the best in decades.

"The winter barley acreage is up about 10pc and all cropping is doing fantastically well, because good conditions at sowing is half the battle," he said.

Week-on-week milk intake at the dairy processors is up by 10pc in Kerry, with Glanbia reporting an increase of 29pc and supply in the Dairygold area up by 33pc. Processors are also reporting an increase in protein levels which is adding 1-3c/l to farm receipts. This balances out slightly lower butterfat because of the higher production.

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