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Agribusiness News February 2024 – Milk

1 February 2024

Tough times still ahead…….

  • Milk volumes are increasing as we head into the spring.
  • Recent GDT auction positive but domestic dairy commodity prices only rose for mild cheddar.
  • Milk prices are starting to move in the right direction, but cost of production remains high.

Milk production data

The latest milk production data from AHDB shows that GB milk output for December was 1,121m litres, 4.6% more than November’s volume and on a par with December 2022.  Daily deliveries were 32.82m litres (w/e 20th January), 0.6% below the previous week and 1.0% less than the same week in 2023.  UK production for December was 1,223m litres, 5.4% more than November, as shown below.

Farm-gate prices

The Defra average UK milk price for Dec 23 was 37.83ppl, up just 0.02ppl from November but 27% lower than Dec 2022.  The main Scottish milk buyers either held, or slightly increased their milk price for February.


Dairy Commodities & Market indicators

The latest wholesale prices for dairy commodities for the week beginning 25th of December to the 15th of January only returned a positive price movement for mild cheddar, up £90/t (+3%) on the previous month.  There was no change in the butter price.  Cream and SMP were down 2% and 3% respectively due to little trade in the post-holiday period and buyers reluctant to purchase too far ahead as we approach the period of increasing milk volumes heading into spring.  As a result, the market indicator AMPE was down 0.51ppl and MCVE increased by 1.17ppl.

The latest GDT auction (16th of Jan 2024) returned a 4th consecutive rise in the average price across all products sold, up 2.3% to $3,493/t. Butter showed the biggest change, up 5.8% to $5,906/t, and SMP and cheddar were also up 1.2% and 1.0% respectively. 

The Year ahead…

Mik price predictions for the year ahead vary.  IFCN have optimistically suggested the milk price will hit 40ppl by June and Andersons in their Outlook Report for 2024 seems to think that by the end of 2024, the average milk price calculated by Defra will unlikely be above 36ppl.  While the cost of borrowing still remains high, keeping borrowing under control will continue to be challenging.  Ideally, with a milk price of 36ppl, and assuming an extra 3ppl income from  culls, calves, and other revenue (total income 39ppl), rent and finance should be no more than 6ppl (~15% of output).

2023 Benchmarks from NMR

NMR have released their latest key performance indicator report which benchmarks data from 500 Holstein-Friesian recorded herds for the year up to August 2023.  Key benchmarks in production, fertility and health are:

  • The average age at first calving was 804 days (26.7 months).
  • Lifetime milk/cow/day averaged 12.7kg, up from 10.5kg in 2010.
  • The median calving interval was 394 days – 30 days shorter than in 2010.
  • The average mastitis incidence was 22 cases/100 cows/year and 70% of herds had a SCC below 200,000 cells/ml.

The full report including benchmark data for the top 25% of herds can be found here:

Methane reducing feed additive update

The methane reducing additive, Bovaer® from DSM-firmenich has finally gained authorisation for use in the UK.  Proven to reduce methane immediately once fed by on average 30% in dairy cows, the additive should be available for use early this year.

Lorna MacPherson,, 07760 990 901

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