December milk production hits 25-year high

Published 24 January 19

UK milk production was strong in December, with daily deliveries running 2% ahead of last year on average. The latest Defra figures put UK milk production at 1,234m litres for the month, the highest December for at least 25 years. AHDB’s current estimates put GB production at 1,049m litres, which is the second highest production in the same period, only beaten by a record high in 1995. The difference between the UK production setting a 25-year record but GB not quite following lies in Northern Ireland, where annual production has increased by around 60% in that time.

2401 dec prod

Milk production is likely to have been aided by relatively mild weather this December. With an average temperature of 5.8°C, it was the 9th warmest December on Met Office records (1910-2018). The relative warmth was particularly evident in Wales and parts of the South, compared to the average December temperatures in those regions.

2401 Dec temp

This mild weather continued into mid-January, allowing for some early grass growth. There were a few reports of cows going out to graze and silage being cut. Regional conditions will vary, but this could help to alleviate the tight forage situation that resulted from the summer drought. However, some regions are still concerned about the lack of rainfall this year, and whether this may have a knock-on impact on early spring grass growth.