DAIRY FARMERS have a real chance to cash in on marginal litres now that quota limits are off, says Kite consultant David Levick.

But he warns that they must be careful not to go into the new milk year at top speed.

Milk delivery figures for January showed another shortfall compared with quota. The Charles Holt/ farmers weekly profile put the butterfat adjusted volume at 1.156bn litres, pushing the cumulative deficit to 211m litres, or six days” supply, with two months of the milk year to go.

Most dairies have confirmed that they will not withhold milk cheques for over-production. “Many farmers” response has been to try and get more milk out of the cows, but it is proving very difficult to squeeze that out,” said Mr Levick.

“Part of the problem is the stage of lactation, but people are also addressing the seasonality issue, and some have already changed their calving patterns, delaying insemination to avoid the spring flush.”

Those that do manage to increase milk production stand to gain 15-15.5p/litre without the costs of quota and with low feed prices, Mr Levick added.

Peter Walker, Arla’s director of milk buying, confirmed Mr Levick’s findings. “Production has been steadily rising since we came out of the November trough, but it has remained fairly typical,” he said.

same message

Spokesmen for Dairy Farmers of Britain and co-op First Milk had the same message.

But Robert Hall, a dairy expert with Auborn, said about a quarter of his clients were cautiously increasing production.

“Many view that quota will be cheap next year, or that national quota won”t be reached because so many are leaving the industry.”

Charles Holt of the Farm Consultancy Group reminded farmers that boosting deliveries now could mean starting the new milk year with soaring production. “It is further ammunition in supermarkets” pockets if there is no drop off in UK production and no need to raise prices,” he warned.