Milk production has fallen significantly over the year, but reduced supply has not helped boost milk prices yet and will put greater pressure on the market.

Estimated GB milk deliveries totalled 1004 million litres in October, a drop of 29.2 million litres (2.8%) compared to the same month last year according to AHDB.

It is important to note that October 2022 had exceptional conditions for milk production, recording the highest volumes in seven years. The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny and milk prices were on the up, moving towards the December peak.

In contrast, the weather in October 2023 was poor, with farmers particularly affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding resulting from Storm Babet. Much of Scotland, northern, central, and eastern England received more than the whole-month average rainfall over the four-day period of Storm Babet in the middle of October according to the Met Office. These conditions led to many cows being brought in to sheds earlier than expected.

“Forage quality this year is not performing like 2022 and isn’t analysing well purely down to the extreme weather farmers have experienced this year,” said Stranraer based dairy farmer, Gary Mitchell.

“Dairy farmers are struggling to get milk out of cows across the country, the feed price hasn’t come down accordingly with the rate of milk price, resulting in the later lactation cows not getting the same amount of feeding and therefore not getting the milk required.

“The first quarter next year could be promising, I personally don’t see anything that could drown the volume in the short term, so hopefully the shortage will push the price back upwards.

“The milk industry has been struggling the last three months with the fall of milk price not covering the summer bills. Farmers are going to have to start responding to the changing market but by doing that milk price needs to be starting with a 4 not a 3,” he added.

Backing up these statements was Alastair Martin, who runs a 160 dairy unit at Dumfries said: “There are many factors as to why there is a drop in milk volume, but the most obvious is the fact that there is less cows on the ground. More and more people are putting cows off and the bigger herds are nearly at saturation point.

“Forage is also not as good as it could be this year, despite the dry summer people would still have got caught with the rain come second and third cut,” he added.

“Milk contacts are putting emphasis on the environmental factors of farms, making people think of how they use their land and putting pressure on cow number. Looking after environment factors won’t be as intensive for cow numbers,” he said.

According to AHDB a drop in production may support milk prices, as a reduced supply would put greater pressure on the market, which could help ease pressure on farm margins during this period of continued high inflation.