March milk volumes forecast to rise by up to 10pc

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom
Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Milk collections are on track to soar ahead this month, fuelled by the buoyant spring grass growth and the delayed calving season.

February supplies in most parts of the country were back, as farmers pushed back this year's calving following last year's harsh weather conditions.

March milk volumes are projected to increase substantially, with Dairygold expecting a 10pc rise, while Lakeland anticipates an increase of between 5-10pc.

In the south, Carbery is estimating an increase of 3pc growth in March supplies compared to March 2018 when the 'Beast from the East' hit.

Kerry is expecting the same level of supplies as last March.

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom said grass growth has been really strong and there is "no shortage of grass" on well-managed dairy farms.

"All indications are for a very good month if conditions improve again," he said. Last year, 540,000 calved down in February, with another 250,000 calves delivered in March.

"We would expect a 2-3pc rise in the size of the national dairy herd again. A lot will happen between now and the end of the month weather-wise but hopefully the conditions today won't last for the month," he said.

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Milk volumes were back in most parts of the country during February, which was attributed to the later calving.

Ger Quain, ICMSA dairy chair, said that prices on the world markets were rising, with Fonterra up almost 5pc, and European and Irish prices must follow the lead.

Fonterra noted global demand has strengthened and they attached particular importance to the almost empty EU intervention stocks of SMP.

"As far as we're concerned, that analysis is mirrored here with powder prices increasing steadily and stability in the butter prices, all of which should be leading to higher prices."

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