The new milk year has got off to a lacklustre start with low volumes delivered in April.

At 1.207bn butterfat-adjusted litres, milk production fell nearly 46m litres short of quota, according to the Charles Holt/Farmers Weekly profile.

April butterfat was higher than it has been since 1998 and production was the lowest since 2001, with most pointing the finger at a cold spring.

Charles Holt of the Farm Consultancy Group said it was hardly surprising given the conditions. “Cows are milking much better now, but I’m not sure it will be enough to get to quota.”

This year, dairy farmers have been allocated an extra 0.5% increase in quota volumes by the EU.

But prices have remained at rock bottom, with clean 4% quota leasing for 0.4p/litre and under or selling for 3.8p-4p/litre.

All the same, Mr Holt said May should see a much smaller deficit in milk production. “They’ve been racing away over the past few weeks.”

And the resumption of beef exports had put a spring in the step of some dairymen, as cull cow values continued to rise.