Extreme August heat hampers GB milk deliveries

Friday, 21 August 2020

By Felicity Rusk

GB milk deliveries dropped back considerably in the week ending 15 August. GB daily milk deliveries averaged 32.21 million litres down 1.7% on the previous week. While milk production would be expected to decline seasonally at this time of year, this drop is considerably larger than we would expect to see.

It is likely that the extremely warm weather we saw around this period has affected milk deliveries. Most areas of England and Wales were subject to over 30-degree heat between 7-9 August. According to the Met Office, the seventh was the warmest August day since 2003, with a maximum temperature of 36.4 degrees recorded at Heathrow Airport. These warmer temperatures continued until the Wednesday (12 August) for many areas of the UK.

The upper thermal comfort zone of a cow is around 25oC. When air temperatures exceed this upper limit, the cow must re-direct energy in order to thermo-regulate. Furthermore, cows will tend to reduce their dry matter intake in warmer weather, in order to reduce heat production from rumination. This would normally be expected to lead to a reduction in milk yields.

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