The milk production profile from different calving systems

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

By Chris Gooderham

We recently published analysis on calf registrations, broken down by system. But how does the current split in calving systems impact milk production through the year? Using our Milk Forecasting Tool, we are able to estimate milk production based on the number of calvings each month.

As a group, the block calvers continue to have the most seasonal profile of milk production. A ratio of 2:1 for autumn block calvers versus spring block calvers, would give a relatively flat milk production profile overall. However, the current ratio between autumn and spring is roughly 1:1, which is driving a seasonal spring peak in milk production from the block group overall.

The profiles of the all year round (AYR) and non-defined groups are similar, and considerably flatter than those of the block calvers.

How do these profiles impact on overall GB milk volumes?

The chart below compares, for each group, the estimated milk volume each month with the annual daily average for that group. So, for example, in January it is a fairly neutral month for the AYR group. However, the block calvers produce around 0.9 million litres per day less milk in January than they do on average, while the non-defined produce 0.3 million litres per day more milk than their annual average.

All three groups are contributing to the spring peak in volumes through March to May. In August and September all groups have lower than average milk volumes. However,for the remaining months the groups help offset each other somewhat. In January and February, the volume from the block calvers is below average, but this is partly offset by the non-defined group. Whereas in November, the block calvers contribute additional milk over and above their annual daily average, unlike the other two groups.

Over recent years the seasonal trough in GB milk production has moved from October/November to August/September. The analysis by calving system helps explain how a slight shift towards block calving has been one of the main reasons for this move.

Image of staff member Chris Gooderham

Chris Gooderham

Science and Environment Director

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