Having previously shared top spot with Strathroy Dairies in our August milk league, Dale Farm is out in front for September milk, paying 31.71p/l for alternate-day collection.

The two companies were the only processors to pay a starting price in excess of 30p/l last month.

Once the usual premiums for milk quality are factored in and deductions made for milk collection among Dale Farm suppliers, the co-op edges out Strathroy for pole position.

Milk quality

September sees monthly milk production on the average NI dairy farm reaching its lowest point of the year. But as yields trend downwards, butterfat and protein percentages increase.

For September, the milk quality figures used to calculate monthly prices are taken from official data recorded by DAERA for the same month last year.

That means milk is set at 4.21% butterfat, 3.34% protein, 4.73 lactose, 21 TBC and 206 SCC – combined it is the highest milk quality figures used in the monthly milk league for the year to date.

With all processors leaving base prices unchanged last month, it means the increase in monthly solids has added 0.4p to 0.6p/l to the final farm gate milk price.

Behind Strathroy in second place, Aurivo finishes third for the fourth month in a row.

With higher premiums payable on milk solids, the increase in milk quality helps Tirlán/Fivemiletown gain one place to finish fourth, overtaking Leprino Foods which slips to fifth.

Lakeland Dairies finishes in sixth for the second consecutive month, despite a 50% increase in its monthly volume bonus.

Rolling average

In our analysis of milk pricing over the 12-month period ending September 2023, Dale Farm has overtaken Tirlán at the top of the table.

It is the first time since April 2020 that any processor, other than Tirlán has led this analysis.

Strathroy moves up to second place having been well positioned in our monthly league tables during 2023, with Tirlán sliding to third.

Shown in Figure 1 is an estimate of the monthly payout to a farmer producing 750,000 litres annually, with 6.8% of that yield supplied in September. In this analysis, the relevant base price is adjusted using the actual fat and protein of milk recorded by each processor during September.

Dale Farm has the highest payout at £16,867 with Strathroy second on £16,515.

When compared to May 2023, a combination of lower prices and less litres means that monthly income is down by around £9,000.

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