Higher births in Q1 as spring calving windows tighten

Thursday, 11 June 2020

By Felicity Rusk

The latest data from BCMS shows:

  • Q1 overall is ↑7% on the year
  • February calvings ↑5.7% on the year, although month contained additional day
  • Shift to tighter, block calving windows

During the first quarter of this year, GB births to dairy dams totalled 378,000 head, according to the latest data from BCMS. This is 0.7% (2,800 head) more than in the same period last year.

 

The latest figures may appear to show a slightly different trend to recent years, with February recording a 5.7% increase (7,500 head), while March births fell by 1.8% (-2,600 head) compared to last year. However, this is purely a reflection of the additional day in February this year. As such, we continue to see a small shift towards spring births.

Although the year-on-year change for the quarter is relatively small, the increase may be due to block calvers tightening up their calving window or a small shift from an all-year-round system to a block calving system.

Poorer grass growth this season has likely meant that keeping cows in good condition has been more challenging, particularly when compared to last year. Many producers have likely had to turn to supplementary feeds to compensate for lower grass yields. However, the cash flow of some producers was disrupted in April and May as a result of COVID-19, which may affect the ability to purchase feed. 

Most areas of the UK are expecting some rain in early June. However, it is yet to be seen whether this will be enough to get grass growth back on the right track. If and when grass growth picks up will be a key factor affecting milk production for the rest of the season.

Felicity Rusk

Analyst - Livestock

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