Milk production heads west

High-input milk production systems are shifting west in the UK to make best use of the cheapest input – grass – and compete with lower-cost methods, Anderson’s Mike Houghton told delegates at the 64th British Cattle Breeders Conference in Telford, Shropshire.

Typically, low-input systems (herds with yields below 6000 litres a cow) and high-input systems (yields over 9000 litres) had production costs of 20.5p/litre and 25.8p/litre, respectively, he said.

“A high-input unit would have to produce 5.4m litres to get the same margin, of about £65,000, as a low-input system producing just 1m litres. It is no surprise to see milk production heading to the areas where costs can be lowered,” he said.

But not all herds could afford to be low-input systems. About 10bn litres was needed for liquid and value-added dairy products and achieving year-round supply for those dairies remained important, he added.