Summer milk production lifts 2020/21 forecast

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

By Kat Jack

Please note that some of the information in this article has been updated as of 14 October 2020, in line with our revision to GB milk production in early October. Please see the end of the article for more information.

GB milk production for 2020/21 is expected to reach 12.50bn litres, down 0.2% on 2019-20†, according to our September forecast update. This is up from our June forecast, which has been driven by higher than expected production over the summer, and also partly due to a revision to historic GB milk production.


Milk reductions end in July

Earlier in the year, production was dampened by some processors encouraging their farmers to limit their spring milk production. This was estimated to have taken around 75m litres off April-June production, and the effects were still being seen at the time of the June forecast. However, production ended up back in line with uncurbed expectations in July. Despite a dip in production during the August heatwave, and despite increased culling during the milk reduction period, June-August production ended up higher than predicted. Early September production is also running ahead of our previous forecast.

Slight growth for remainder of season

The forecast for September to March has been marginally raised from our June update. While herd numbers fell in April, we are now expecting a higher proportion of the April numbers to be retained in the herd from October.  This is on the basis that a share of the culls were brought forward to the spring.

At the September Milk Forecasting Forum, we discussed the impact the feed situation could have on winter production. Although early surveys had highlighted concerns following a challenging growing season, it was established that the feed situation had improved through August. Feed barley in particular benefitted from the August weather. However, silage quality is reported as variable.

Next spring

With milk production now back on track, the forecast for May-June 2021 is more in line with volumes produced in 2019 than 2020. However, July-August production is forecasted to be slightly lower. This brings current expectations for deliveries of 6.38bn litres for April-September 2021, compared to 6.36bn litres in 2020 and 6.41bn litres in 2019†.



†Please note that we have revised our actual production figures from those originally published in this article. This is following a revision to GB milk production affecting data from December 2019-August 2020. The forecast is unchanged, but the 2020/21 total has been updated, and also now uses our September 2020 estimate instead of a forecast.

Katherine Jack

Analyst - Dairy

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