English and Welsh milk producer exit continues

More than 130 dairy producers have ceased production in England and Wales since February.


This brings the total number of registered milk production holdings to 10,540 this month. Scotland also saw a drop, with nine producers leaving, to put its total number of dairy herds at 1,002 to July. While the number of herds is the lowest since records began in 1903, total cow numbers in Scotland are higher than in 2003.


The rate of exit in England and Wales accelerated in June, with the number falling by 41 between June and July. However, DairyCo analyst Patty Clayton cautioned against reading too much into a one-month figure.


Producer numbers fell by just 1.65% across the whole of 2012, but are already down by 1.2% so far this year.


Auctioneer Gwilym Richards of Chepstow, Monmouthshire, has three herd dispersals booked in the next couple of months, each of about 300 head. He said that while sales may be fewer, they were generally larger.


Auctioneers’ talk at the Livestock Event had reflected a relatively quiet time for some on dispersal sale bookings. However, private sales were accounting for an increasing proportion of trade and a lot of dairy cattle were being imported from Ireland and Germany to meet strong demand.


“Our biggest problem on sale bookings is TB,” said Mr Richards. “When someone has a clear test and they want to sell, they only have 60 days in which to do it.” In reality it was an even shorter time, because the 60-day period was from the date of the test, not the result, he said.


Sales were mostly due to retirement, lack of succession and family issues such as partnering changes, said Mr Richards. However, there was also a lot of investment being made on dairy farms in particular in robot milking systems.



























































































UK dairy herd numbers


England and Wales


Scotland


Northern Ireland


United Kingdom


% change


2002


18,695


1,639


4,596


24,930


-6.12%


2003


16,977


1,590


4,425


22,992


-7.77%


2004


15,846


1,569


4,201


21,616


-5.98%


2005


14,732


1,523


4,058


20,313


-6.03%


2006*


13,778


1,472


3,376


18,626


-8.31%


2007*


12,867


1,431


3,129


17,427


-6.44%


2008*


12,252


1,351


2,989


16,592


-4.79%


2009*


11,743


1,298


2,967


16,008


-3.52%


2010*


11,256


1,263


2,781


15,300


-4.42%


2011*


10,851


1,189


2,753


14,793


-3.31%


2012


10,724


1,163


2,662


14,549


-1.65%


(Sources: DHI, SEERAD, DARD) * Change in methodology in Northern Ireland