According to DairyCo, the number of dairy producers in the EU (excluding Malta) fell by 6.5% between 2011/12 and 2012/13. Poland and Romania, two of the newest Member States, accounted for 52.9% of the total number of producers in the 27 current Member States, with Romania alone accounting for 36.3%. Looking at the EU- 25, the number of producers has fallen by 4.7% (28,214) over the same period to 576,135 producers.

Romania, home to the majority of European dairy producers, experienced the largest fall in dairy producer numbers between 2011/12 and 2012/13 falling by 32,934 (9.0%) to 335,037. In percentage terms however the largest fall was seen in Bulgaria where the producer numbers fell by 21.7% (3,003 producers).

In Ireland, producer numbers fell by 3.6% between 2011/12 and 2012/13, dropping from 19,167 to 18,496 during the aforementioned period.

Meanwhile, the decline in dairy farmer dairy farmer numbers across England and Wales is continuing apace. Producer numbers in the region stood at 10,362 at the beginning of April, a fall of 20 from the previous month. Compared to the previous year, producer numbers are down by 267 (2.5%).

Turning to matters breeding, the latest sire indexes, issued by Holstein UK, have shown an atypical static proof run, with minimal changes within the top 25 of the rankings.

There have been some exciting entries that continue to strengthen the already diverse portfolio of sires available in the UK. A number of intriguing graduates and new genomic bulls offer a range of different components, allowing dairy farmers to reap the benefits of their profitable characteristics.

New to the UK proven Type list, and sitting in top position, is Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood. The Goldwyn son has an impressive Type proof; with a mammary score of +2.94, a legs & feet composite of +3.06 and a locomotion score of +3.56, it is no wonder he has a sky-high Type Merit (TM) of +3.48. He combines these traits with +625kgs milk and also sits in 19th position in the Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) ranked list with a PLI of £191.

Another newcomer in the UK proven Type list is Farnear-TBR Altaavalon at number three. This Regancrest Mac son has very desirable life span and somatic cell count (SCC) scores of +0.3 and -13 respectively.

Climbing up two places to reach the top spot of the PLI UK proven list is 92% reliable Cogent Twist with a high PLI of £244. This popular Shottle son has 245 milking daughters in 126 herds and boasts a condition score of +1.22 with positive components +0.24%F and +0.07%P.

After being in position 17, the Oman son, Mainstream Manifold, climbs 14 places to reach third place. His 707 milking daughters on the ground in 167 herds have helped raise his PLI to a notable £232 with 99% reliability. This sire also has an incredible fertility index of +7.4 and a daughter calving ease of +2.2.

With minimal change appearing in the UK Bred proven bull list, Heavenly Golden Dreams remains in pole position. The ever-popular Goldwyn son retains a tremendous TM (+4.07) with a high mammary score of +3.58 and a legs & feet score of +3.03.

The most distinguished new UK bred sire is Wintersell Milo at number 17. The intriguing Oman son has a TM of +2.1 and a great fertility index of +2.3. Available as sexed semen, he has a PLI of £187 with positive fat and protein percentages and a staggering SCC of -24.