Increased herd sizes and yields set to drive Lakeland milk supply
Milk intake at Lakeland Dairies is set to increase by 22pc to almost 1.45 billion litres by 2022.
This is the standout finding from a major survey of the co-op's suppliers which was released today.
The growth will be built on an 11pc increase in the average herd size, rising from 81 cows to 92 and a 7pc lift in yields to 6,088 litres per cow.
These developments are forecast to drive the average annual milk output for the co-op's 2,500 suppliers from 460,000 litres to 560,000 litres in the five years to 2022. This will add a further 250 million litres to the co-op's current annual supply of 1.2 billion litres.
This latest expansion phase comes on the back of a 33pc surge in milk output between 2014 and 2017.
This required an investment of €133m by farmers over the last five years - €53,000 per supplier - with 55pc financed by borrowings, 32pc from cash-flow, 9pc from savings, and a further 5pc from asset sales or other sources.
Growth in the Lakeland Dairies' milk pool will be driven by around half of its current supplier base.
The survey found that 46pc of Lakeland farmers plan to increase milk output up to 2022, with 47pc holding at current levels, 2pc opting to reduce supplies, and 5pc exiting the sector.
There is a strong focus on improved management and measurement among Lakeland Dairies' suppliers, with 89pc soil testing in the last three years, and 34pc reseeding a fifth of their holding or more over the last five years.
Moreover, around half of the co-op's suppliers practice grass budgeting, 35pc are in discussion groups, while 38pc are milk recording.
Looking to the future, 48pc of Lakeland suppliers - nine out of 10 of which are full-time farmers - have a successor identified.
Almost a fifth of the successors identified have an agriculture degree or better, and 52pc have completed the Green Cert, or the Greenmount College training course in the North.
Partnerships are viewed positively as a possible route towards generational change on the holding, with 40pc of farmers interested in such an arrangement.
The average farm size in the Lakeland Dairies' catchment area is 168 acres, of which 113 acres are owned and 55 acres rented.
60pc of suppliers run mixed units, with 83pc also in beef, 10pc in sheep, 4pc in cereals, and 3pc in poultry.
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