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Milk deliveries and protein levels down in February

Milk deliveries and protein levels down in February

Recently released data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has pointed to a decline in both the volume of milk and its contained constituents delivered to milk processors and co-ops over the month of February.

Estimates from the national statistics office suggest a domestic milk intake of 330.4 million litres in February 2024, a decrease of 50.6 million litres (-13.3%) when compared with February 2023 and down 37.1 million litres (-10.1%) when compared with the same month in 2022.

In addition, domestic milk intake for the period January to February 2024 was estimated at 478.9 million litres, a decline of 82.5 million litres (-14.7%) when compared with the same period in 2023, and down by 71.8 million litres (-13.0%) when compared with January to February 2022.

Despite statistics from the same organisation showing some level of stabilisation in the national dairy herd up to December 2023, when ~1.51 million dairy cows were present on Irish farms, the reduction in milk output may be largely attributed to fewer dairy calvings occurring up to the end of February.

Notwithstanding the delays associated with calf registrations on account of the National Genotyping Programme, data presented by the ICBF up to March 1, 2024 shows that 625,991 calves were registered to dairy dams this year – a decline of 41,252 on the same period in 2023. Additionally, up to the week ending February 24 in 2023, dairy births totalled 593,242 head – a reduction of 9,002 head on the same period in 2022.

The CSO also reports that fat and protein delivers also declined in February 2024. Fat content for February 2024 was 4.44% - down from 4.46% in February 2023 – and protein content also fell from 3.50% to 3.43% in February 2024 to February 2023.

This decline in constituents – particularly protein – could be on account of fewer cows having calved up until the end of February and being in an early stage of the lactation curve, but the grazing conditions on farm and the reduced quantities of grass entering the diet on account of challenging grazing conditions experienced this spring as opposed to the spring of 2023 may also have had a role to play.