Aftermath of low milk prices hits heifer numbers

Published 6 June 17

The number of potential replacement heifers in the GB dairy herd fell by 3% in April, compared to the previous year. Dairy heifers aged 0-2 years old have been declining over the last six months, driven by a sharp reduction in those under a year old. This is likely due to the recent long period of low milk prices, as breeding decisions for these animals will have been made during the price trough.

Based on average yields, this number of heifers would be expected to produce around 200m litres of milk per year when they reach maturity, so GB deliveries could be negatively affected. However, the effect could be cancelled out if farms opt to increase the proportion of replacement heifers they retain (despite having less stock to choose from) or reduce culling rates. Therefore, milk prices over the next twelve months will be crucial as to whether this self-resolves or becomes a longer-term issue. 

Dairy heifers 6JUN17