Milk production in October was the highest for 10 years, according to provisional data from the Rural Payments Agency.

The UK dairy herd produced 1.09bn litres during the month – 27.9m litres more than in September and almost 10% (96.2m litres) more than the same time last year. It was the most produced in October since 2003, when the herd reached 1.12bn litres.

Cumulative production for the year was above last season for the second consecutive month, with the open autumn and good quality maize harvest in stark contrast to last year’s woes. Between April and October, the UK produced 7.94bn litres, compared with 7.81bn litres last year and a five-year average of 7.8bn litres.

However, the high yields were starting to affect butterfat contents, which only increased slightly in October, to 4.08%, compared with 4.19% last year. Cumulative butterfat was pegged at 3.96%; 0.06 points below last year but on par with the over-year mean.

Dairy farmer numbers continued their steady decline, with 10,488 producers recorded in England and Wales in November – 200 fewer than the same time last year.

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