AVERAGE drop-off in milk quality seen through the spring and summer could cut the milk price on an individual dairy farm by more than 3p per litre unless action is taken to boost milk fat and protein production.

That was the warning from KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward, who said that DEFRA figures show average UK milk fat and proteins drop around 0.2-0.3% from their winter peak and on some milk supply contracts, that can equate to a loss of up to 3.2ppl.

And, although some milk quality decline is inevitable even in housed herds, due to the dilution effect of rising yields as day length extends, Ms Ward said, such losses can be significantly reduced.

"As well as the nutrient profile of the diet, any factor that alters feed access, quality or intake can also influence milk quality," she said.

"So start by reviewing feed and herd management to minimise potential limitations, such as trough space, feed spoilage or sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA).

"In terms of ration changes, additional starch from sodawheat will boost microbial protein production and milk proteins with minimal SARA risk, whilst high sugar liquid feeds like Molale are an option for housed herds.

"Raise butterfats by increasing energy supply from digestible fibre, including feeds like sugar beet feed or the wheat-gluten moist feed Traffordgold and reformulating rations to improve rumen function"

Ms Chard added that producers should also top up with rumen-bypass fat and protein as needed to make sure both yield and milk solids production are fully supported.