Milk supplies for the first three months of the year are running on average 7% behind the same period in 2023, according to an Irish Farmers Journal survey of processors.

While the weather has improved in recent days, poor weather during all of February, March and the first two weeks of April has dampened supplies as cows were unable to get to grass.

Southern processors were hardest hit with Barryroe Co-op back 10% on 2023 levels and Dairygold Co-op back 8.6%.

Farmers in the west and northwest appear to be less affected with supplies to Aurivo and Lakeland Dairies back 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively.

It has been suggested that wet weather in these regions is normal, hence there is less of an impact this season compared to other parts.

Cow numbers

Meanwhile, dairy cow numbers to 1 March are running 1% behind the same period in 2023, with 1.632m cows in the country this year compared to 1.648m cows on 1 March 2023.

However, total dairy calf registrations up to 19 April are running 1% higher than the same period last year, indicating that there are more milking cows in the country than last year.

Of greater note is a 7% decline in the number of beef calf registrations to date in 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. This indicates a further decline in the suckler beef herd for 2024.