Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Milk production up 7% in October as dairy farmers 'milk on'

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon
REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Domestic milk intake by creameries and pasteurisers was estimated at 536.1m litres for October 2017.

This was 7.2pc above the corresponding 2016 figure.

Given the positive milk price, many farmers have decided to delay drying off their cows this autumn.

However, Teagasc has warned that it is important that farmers need to establish if it is worth their while milking on some of their herd.

It says there will be additional costs including supplementation, parlour operating costs and labour. Remember also that you need a break before the start of the 2018 milking season.

Dairy Expert Dan Ryan said many of his clients plan to milk both empty cows and later calvers through the Christmas period.

“This would not be the norm but the catch up factor after two years of non-profitable milk production has incentivised farmers to continue milking this year,” he said.

However, Ryan said caution should be exercised on three primary fronts when planning to milk on a year round basis:

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“The body condition score of dairy herds has decreased rather than increased to achieve the targeted 3 to 3.25 BCS at the time of drying off.

“This has resulted from feeding low dry matter grass with high protein and low energy status. Get an independent assessment of your cow BCS.

“ If cows are not achieving a BCS of 3.0 by the time they are 190 days pregnant, they need to get an extended dry cow period.

Ryan also said that as cow numbers have increased and the opportunity to harvest high quality silage has been restricted on many farms, many farmers are faced with a fodder crisis next spring.

“In this scenario, the options are either an early dry off time or extended lactation with supplemental concentrates to spare forage.

“ Farmers need to bear in mind that there is a minimum two fold return on high quality supplement supply to the diet in late lactation. There is also the benefit of achieving the target BCS by the time of dry off.

“The emphasis placed on grass based milk production has resulted in larger herds with insufficient labour and concentrated calving season.

“This in turn is leading to an undue stress load on farmers and a growing number of farmers suffering from stress related issues. Speak out, get help and look forward to time out over the Christmas period with family and friends,” he said.

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