Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dairy yields stall as grass growth down 30pc

Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe
Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Milk supplies are stalling around the country as cold conditions continue to hamper grass growth.

Grass growth continues to lag last year by as much as 30pc, and even with a surge in meal usage, farmers are still struggling to maintain milk yields.

"Most cows are in by night up here," said Aidan McCabe of LacPatrick, where supplies were down 3pc on the same week last year. Neighbouring Lakeland Dairies was up 1.5pc.

Kerry co-op reported April volumes to be down 7pc, while Aurivo said that milk supplies were falling with every passing week.

"We're taking in barely the same amount of milk as April 2015, and if this goes on any longer it could hit the peak that cows are capable of producing," said the western processor's Anthony Walsh.

Dairygold declined to specify how much milk volumes were down week-on-week, while Glanbia said that intake was "in line" with 2015.

Arrabawn said that supplies were up 9pc compared to the same week last year, while Lisavaird said that they were up 2pc for the last week, but back 2pc for the month.

Teagasc's PastureBase showed that grass growth is at just 70pc of the same period last year across the country.

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Teagasc farms at Ballyhaise in Cavan, Moorepark in Cork and Solohead in Tipperary recorded 33kgDM/ha, 43kgDM/ha, and 50kgDM/ha.

Meanwhile, it appears that predictions of a turnaround in the dairy market are being pushed out further into 2017.

Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe said that the latest 2.1pc increase in first quarter supplies in the US was "worrying".

"We already know the positions that people are taking for quarter four [in 2016] so it will run into 2017 before we see a change," he said.

Glanbia CEO, Siobhan Talbot, warned farmers last week that milk prices were likely to get worse because of ongoing global challenges for the industry.

Glanbia AGM analysis: pg 16

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