Dairy producers could start incurring penalties on their milk price as somatic cell counts have soared over the past few months.
In August, GB cell counts averaged 203,000/ml – 4.1% more than in July and the highest figure since September 2009. Although cell counts usually do rise in the autumn, the extent of the swing has been extreme, gaining 14.7% since February.
“Poor weather this summer will have had an effect as cows are more likely to have been exposed to risk factors, increasing the instances of mastitis,” said a report by DairyCo.
“As well as the cost in terms of treatment and loss of milk, the milk price is also likely to come under pressure for some farmers on SCC payment boundaries – several processors have tightened the banding over the past 12 months, with bonuses linked to lower SCC rates than in previous years.”
DairyCo’s latest milk price league table showed 26 price changes for August, September and October. “Many of the companies refer to increased returns from retail customers, with future returns from commodity markets also referenced in many announcements.”