Despite a slight dip in the rolling average milk price to March 2017, lower paid farmers have seen a welcome price increase in recent months.
According to Kingshay Dairy Costings Focus, the rolling average price has slipped by 0.6ppl to 23.8ppl with analysis of Holstein/Friesian milk prices received by Dairy Manager highlighting the gap between the lowest paid 10% and highest paid 10% is down to 6.8ppl for March 2017 compared to 13.9ppl in March 2016. 
“The price received by the highest paid has changed little at 31.3ppl, so the beneficiaries are the lowest 10% with a monthly price in March of 24.5ppl compared with 17.2ppl in March 2016,” explains Kathryn Rowland, Kingshay’s senior farm services manager. 
This is the first year average herd size has gone above 200 cows and herd output averaged 1.67m litres – a 49% increase since the results from March 2007. 
“Performance from forage in the year to March 2017 has seen a small decrease from the previous very good growing season. Over the longer term, the average yield from forage has changed little. 
“But for the last four years the top 10% ranked by milk from forage achieved more than 4000 litres a cow from forage every year, with an average yield of about 8000 litres a cow,” says Mrs Rowland. 
In the year to March 2017, these top 10% herds saved 1.8ppl in feed costs compared with the average by producing 1610 litres more from forage at a similar yield close to 8000 litres. 
“For a herd selling 1.6m litres that’s worth £28,800 in feed costs. This difference in feed costs could be the difference between profit and loss on many farms, even with slightly better milk prices this year. 
“In a dairy farming industry where being average seems unlikely to result in reliable long term profit, there is much to gain from using this report to benchmark herd performance. 
“A review using the data relating to a range of relevant factors, such as region, herd size and milk yield level, can indicate what is possible in a particular scenario. 
“Then by estimating the financial gains from making any changes, this may justify additional management effort,” said Ms Rowland.