Sniff of better milk prices no incentive to push cows on

Teagasc advisors around the country are confirming that dairy farmers are showing no inclination to push extra milk from late lactation cows, in light of the recent improvement in dairy markets.

The penny has dropped with farmers in East Cork that it is better to maintain good body condition scores in the run-up to calving, rather than push to get extra milk now, Liz Duffy, from Teagasc’s Midleton office, said.

“They realise that cows calving down in poor condition next spring will hit fertility problems during the subsequent breeding season.

“It has been practice with most of the farmers in my catchment area to feed cows between two and three kilos of meal per day over recent weeks, simply to make sure that they have the correct body condition score at drying off.”

Grass is still plentiful in this part of the world. Where milk output is concerned, the one issue of note is the fact that very few producers have actually committed [even if they had applied] to the EU voluntary reduction scheme.”

It’s basically the same story in Galway, the one exception being that a number of farmers are concerned about silage stocks.

David Colbourne, Teagasc Regional Manager in Athenry, has said that while we have seen a small improvement in milk price this month, this trend won’t encourage farmers to chase extra litres from spring calving cows over the coming weeks.

“Producers want to get a decent price for their milk next spring when they have decent volumes to sell. And, hopefully, this will materialise in 2017.

“One consequence of the improving milk markets is farmers’ decision to cull less ruthlessly than might have been the case had milk prices remained in the doldrums.”

Colbourne confirmed that, for the most part, dairy cows in the Galway area are in good condition as the winter beckons.

“But silage stocks are low on a number of farms. This is particularly the case on those units where there were delays in getting second cut silage made,” he said.