Early turnout feeds through into increased dairy margins

Dairy farmers saw a rise in margins in April thanks to early turnout and strong initial grass growth, according to the latest results from Promar’s Milkminder survey.

The ability to get cows out early meant Promar’s clients’ milk yield a cow increased by nearly three-quarters of a litre a cow a day, with milk from forage up 20% and milk from grazing by 88%.

Reduced feed use and an improved milk price meant the margin over purchased feed rose to 20.81p/litre, which is 4.64p/litre more than in April 2016 and translates to an increased margin of £37 a cow.

See also: Feed issues reduce benefit of higher milk price


The amount of concentrate used fell from 0.32kg/litre to 0.29kg/litre – a reduction of 13%.

The average April 2017 milk price for the farms in the sample was also 27.192p/litre which was 4.54p/litre higher than in April 2016.

Over a rolling 12-month basis the milk price is now 2% higher than it was – an increase of 0.56p/litre.

Future prospects

Promar said national production continued to rise with the gap compared with last year now closed.

Herds in the sample have put on an average of six cows compared with where they were 12 months ago, which was supporting total herd margin.

“The key issue is how well cows could graze this summer in the light of variable, often low growth rates.

“First-cut results will give the first insight into winter prospects, but currency volatility is almost certain to impact on feed costs making for potentially uncertain times.”

Results at a glance

  April 2016 April 2017
Average cows in herd 204.6 209.6
Milk yield a cow a day 26.6/litres 27.3/litres
Yield from all forage a cow a day 8.7/litres 10.5/litres
Milk price 22.647p/litre 27.192p/litre
Concentrate price  £197/t £212/t
Margin over purchased feed 16.17p/litre 20.81p/litre
Margin over purchased feed a cow £115 £152
Margin over purchased feed for herd £23,440 £31,851