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UK milk solids gains outpace the EU

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

By Jennie Tanner

The UK saw an annual increase in milk solids over the second half of 2019. On average, this has also happened in the EU although by less significant amounts.

On average, the UK butterfat content in the calendar year 2019 was 4.10% butterfat, up 0.02 on 2018 while protein was up 0.04 to 3.36%. The greatest differences have been seen in the latter part of the year. While many things can influence the butterfat content of milk, it can be partly attributed to changes in the dairy herd, with both improvements in genetics and changes in calving patterns playing a part. However,  the higher butterfat levels seen this past winter are most likely to be due to the  silage quality this season.

Though December figures for the EU28 are not available yet, average butterfat in November was unchanged from November 2018 at 4.13% and average protein is up 0.01 to 3.5%.

If the majority of the gains in the UK are based on the forage quality it could be that on average the EU have not got the quality of forage seen in the UK. Parts of the EU struggled in summer 2019 with drought, which though not as severe as the summer of 2018 may well have impacted on their forage quality and quantity. For example, Germany, the EU’s largest milk producer saw some very high temperatures in the summer of 2019, although these were relatively short lived it could have had an effect on grass growth and forage production as well as milk production. Some reports suggest that less feed has been purchased in this year and that has also reduced the quality available.

Jennie Tanner

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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