Milk proteins take sharp fall as fodder deficit bites

Lousie Hogan

A SHARP fall-off in milk proteins over the last 10 days is the latest blow to dairy farmer incomes.

Glanbia confirmed to the Farming Independent yesterday that it is in the process of organising nutritional clinics for its suppliers so as to tackle the problem.

“Milk protein levels have fallen sharply this week, reflecting the challenges in keeping a good diet in front of milking cows,” a Glanbia official said.

It is understood that protein levels have fallen to 3.18pc in mid-March, compared with 3.30pc this time last year.

Farmers have been urged to check with their local agri-branch, with 18 holding animal nutrition clinics early this week.

Glanbia Ireland animal nutritionist Martin Ryan said that with the longer than normal winter and very low grass growth, a fodder deficit is rapidly emerging on many farms. “The extent of the gap (between cow numbers and available feed) is variable but is generally between 0.5–0.75 tonnes of silage per cow.

“On the majority of farms, an investment of €20-€30/cow is required to minimise or eliminate the impact,” he said.

This latest blow to dairy farmer incomes follows on from a significant hike in input costs this spring and falling milk prices.

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Base milk prices for February were cut by between 1c/l and 3c/l as a result of what processors described as challenging marketing conditions.

Returns to farmers are generally around 33-34c/l, although Aurivo is paying 35.58c/l for February supplies, with Lakeland Dairies on 34.56c/l.


However, at the announcement of its results recently, Ornua forecast that base prices for milk would fall back to 28-30c/l for 2018.

This view is shared by many in the dairy industry, who are fearful that supply growth is outstripping demand growth, particularly in Europe and the US.

The most recent report of the European Milk Market Observatory (EMMO) pointed out that milk production across the EU grew by 1.8pc in December-January compared to output for the same period 12 months previously.

However, the report noted that New Zealand milk supplies were hit by drought, and that Chinese imports have continued to recover.

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