Figures from Kite Consulting’s Milk Monitor Dairy Herd Costings show that average milk yield increased by nearly 300L/cow, in the year to March 2020, without a rise in feed rate.

Milk solids also increased by 31kg/cow in this period, while feed costs fell by an average of £5/t.

Milk Monitor data is collected from farms across the sector from a range of sizes and encompasses all different production systems, including grazing and non-grazing and block calving and all-year-round calving herds.

These farms supply many different milk buyers and markets.

“The rise in milk and solids yield, without a subsequent increase in feed rate, points to increased cow efficiency and performance across the board,” says Chris Flint from Kite Consulting.

I don’t think there is one single reason behind these gains; instead we’re seeing the effects of a number of improvements and changes dairy farmers are continually implementing.

These include improved forage quality via grazing management and conserved forage, better ventilation in barns, a focus on water availability and quality, increased attention on foot care and clamp management and better, more focused use of genetics.

‘Fundamental to herd performance’

Dry cow and transition management continues to improve, and this is fundamental to herd performance.

“Margin over purchased feed/cow has also risen by £65/cow, despite a slightly lower milk price. This, with a small increase in herd size, added £34,913 to the herd margin.

“Cows are producing more milk from the same rate of inputs,” he added.

“Actually we have seen feed rate remain static over the last seven years, whilst milk per cow has increased by 840L or 9.3%, showing efficiencies coming through

“It’s clear that there is no one silver bullet when it comes to improving profitability on UK dairy farms, whatever their system.

Instead, farmers are seeing the benefit of making small changes and increasing attention to detail – things that don’t cost a huge amount, but collectively can have a sizeable impact on cow performance.

“The data ties in very well with Kite’s Vision for Dairy 2030, published earlier this year, which shows how the UK dairy industry can reduce its environmental footprint by 30% over the decade.

“This Milk Monitor data comes at the very start of the decade and is a positive start to the industry’s environmental and efficiency challenge which we are continually discussing and evolving with our customers,” he concluded.