ONE million litres of milk a day has been shipped from Ireland to England over the past two months because British milk production is running 15% under quota this year, the Teagasc National Liquid Milk conference was told in Dublin yesterday.
Meath farmer Tom Clinton said due to the reduction in milk supplies in Britain, liquid milk consumption now accounts for 65% of production there with a resultant flow of milk to England from Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Mr Clinton told the conference that the most profitable farms on a per acre basis in the world are those close to the large urban centres producing basic food needs, including all year round milk.
He said he was certain that in the present financial crisis nobody will cut back on their consumption of basic foods — milk, eggs, potatoes and bread.
Teagasc Moorepark researcher Joe Patton said producing milk in excess of contract requirements during the winter months is a costly exercise.
He said that control of herd fertility is essential to manage the calving pattern correctly as August and September calved cows are the most expensive to feed.
Mr Patton said the differences in variable costs between winter and spring milk producers is mostly due to higher feeds costs for winter milk farms.
Nutrition advisory specialist with Teagasc Siobhan Kavanagh said that relative to 2006, production costs for grass, grass silage, maize and whole crop wheat silage, have increased by 22%.
She said grazed grass remains the cheapest feed and its utilisation should be maximised in Irish dairy production systems.
Ulster Bank, the conference sponsors, reiterated its confidence in the future for milk producers in Ireland despite the fluctuations in price.
The bank’s agricultural manager Dr Anne Marie Butler said its business with dairy farmers has been steady. It has worked with many who are expanding their herds and developing their facilities with grant assistance under the farm waste management and farm improvement schemes.
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