Dairy cows feeding

Dairy farmers’ average margin over purchased feed fell to 17.49p/litre in September – 5.72p/litre down year-on-year, according to the latest figures from Promar Milkminder.

This was despite feed costs falling from 8.08p/litre in September last year to 6.80p/litre this year.

The average total milk produced per herd increased by 5,989 litres year-on-year to 120,415 litres in September.

Individual milk yields rose marginally from 24.4 litres/day to 24.8 litres/day a cow, while herd size also increased, from 185 head in September 2014 to 193.2 head in September this year.

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However, milk prices were almost 6.85p/litre down on the year to average 24.29p/litre, eroding any financial gain from increased production.

The open autumn had allowed farmers to produce more milk from forage, at 7.9 litres a cow compared with 6.3 litres last September.

That, combined with cheaper purchased feed, had gone some way to offset the drop in milk price.

Even so, dairy producer numbers across England and Wales continued to fall in November, down from 9,673 in October to 9,654, according to a report by the AHDB.