Milk output on target to hit 8bn litres this year
Milk production is on target to top eight billion litres this year, with deliveries to some processors up 12-13pc in the first quarter compared to 2018.
Official figures for the opening three months have yet to be compiled but processors report exceptionally strong growth in output.
First quarter milk supplies at Glanbia were 12pc ahead of last year, while Lakelands was 13pc up on 2018. However, March deliveries at Lakelands were 15pc higher than in 2018.
Weekly milk supplies at Dairygold are running 15pc ahead of 2018 and intakes at the co-op are 5pc up on last year for the first quarter.
At Arrabawn, weekly deliveries are 20pc ahead of last year, while Kerry is just 1.2pc ahead of 2019. National milk output exceeded 7.5bn litres in 2018 and growth of just 6pc would be enough to top 8bn litres this year.
However, a number of processors cautioned that the supply growth seen in the first quarter might not be sustained through the year as milk output between January and March in 2018 was badly affected by poor spring weather and Storm Emma.
Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom said milk supplies were currently running well ahead of other years. But he warned that conditions could change radically as the year progressed.
Mr Ramsbottom said farmers were reporting unprecedented milk yields for the early part of the year, despite the delayed start to calving.