By FWi staff

GOOD grass-growing conditions have boosted milk production across the country this spring, and resulted in an increase in yields of over 4% during April and May, compared with spring last year.

Figures just published by NMR, which records milk production for over 60% of dairy herds in Britain, shows yields in April and May of this year similar to those in 1997.

Average daily milk production per cow is up by 1kg in April and 0.9kg in May this year compared with the same months last year, said NMR Mike Blanshard.

“However, fat levels are at their lowest for the past three springs.”

Faced with an under-quota situation at the start of 1999, many farmers encouraged production, said Mr Blanshard.

These high milk yields have continued into April and May, unlike last year when many were over quota so cut back on production.

Lower milk prices has meant that many farmers are turning to “extended grazing”, with more milk coming from forage and less from concentrates.

“The increased levels of fresh grass have lead to lower overall milk quality this spring,” noted Mr Blanshard.

While milk yields increased, cell counts were at their lowest for the past three springs, averaging 171,000 cells per ml across the country.

“Normally, higher yields are accompanied by increases in somatic cell counts.

“But from our figures, it looks as though more farmers are keeping an eye on herd health to make sure they qualify for price bonuses wherever possible,” he concluded.