UK expects marginal growth for milk production in upcoming season - AHDB

The current season expected to end 0.2% up
calendar icon 24 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

UK milk production for the 2023/24 season is forecast to reach 12.46bn litres, 0.5% more than the current milk year, according to AHDB's March forecast update from analyst Patty Clayton. The current season is expected to finish at 12.39bn litres, up by 0.2%. 

Clayton attributed the increase to improvements in milk production yields, which have been on the rise since September 2022. 

"The improvements in milk production in the second half of the 2022/23 season were predominantly driven by higher yields, encouraged by the high milk prices paid through the winter months," she wrote.

Furthermore, cow numbers were relatively stable, with the size of the GB milking herd in January 2023 only 0.8% lower than a year earlier. This is the smallest annual decline since January 2018, according to data from BCMS.

At the latest Milk Forecasting Forum, Clayton said it was generally agreed that the current yields were likely to continue through the spring period. She did note, however, some risks to production in the second half of the season when working capital requirements increase against a backdrop of declining milk prices.

In general, inflation in key input costs has slowed in recent months, although prices for fuel, fertiliser and feed remain high in historic terms. With announced cuts to milk prices in the first three months of the year reaching up to 6.45ppl, and further cuts expected in the lead up to the spring flush, farm margins will come under increased pressure through the season.

"This pressure could be exacerbated if grass growth this spring does not allow for depleted silage clamps to be replenished," wrote Clayton. "The combination of increased production costs, lower milk prices and strong cull cow prices could lead to higher-than-expected destocking, limiting production over the winter months."

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