Dairy farmers are spending 1.9p/litre more on feed this year, as a result of lower yields and higher feed costs, warns dairy consultant Kingshay.
Figures released from the Kingshay Dairy Manager show that in October there was a 1.7 litre drop in daily milk production, compared to October 2011, as well as a 1.9p/litre hike in feed costs.
Average daily yield dropped down to 23.5 litres a cow, with yield from forage down 2 litres a cow to just 4.4 litres.
"We are yet to receive all the data for November, but early analysis shows a similar picture is likely. More than 70% of herds have seen October milk yields down on last year, with almost 30% seeing a drop of more than 3 litres a cow a day," said Kingshay development director Richard Simpson.
"This may partly relate to the long-term effect of poor grazing conditions last summer. Silage analyses show there is some good quality silage around, but cows are just not producing the milk the analysis suggests should be there."
Although daily concentrate use per cow had changed little year on year - up from 8.3 to 8.4kg - concentrate costs were up £26/tonne to £250/t, which coupled with a reduction in ouput, put total purchased feed costs up 1.93p/litre, he added.
"With the milk price remaining static on average, it's difficult to see how farmers can cope with these increased costs," he said.
"However, going with a gut instinct of cutting back on expensive purchased feeds could have far worse consequences on the business in the long-term than continuing to feed cows well in the short term. It's vital to explore the impact of any changes fully with a nutritionist or consultant."
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