A 2p/l winter bonus, which is payable on top of a 30.55p/l base price, has helped Dale Farm remain top of the NI milk league for October.

It is the third month in a row Dale Farm has led our analysis for a dairy farmer producing 750,000l annually.

Once the usual premiums for milk quality are factored in and a deduction of 0.49p/l applied to cover the cost of milk collection, Dale Farm finishes on a price of 34.78p/l for milk collected on alternate days.

Milk quality

October prices are calculated at the NI average for milk quality recorded by DAERA for the same month in 2022. It means butterfat is set at 4.35%, with protein at 3.45%, lactose at 4.69%, a TBC of 20 and SCC of 193. The outlined milk solids are the highest for the year to date and add approximately 1p/l to the final milk prices when compared to the previous league calculated for September supplies.

Winter bonuses

With all processors opting to leave base prices unchanged for October, the introduction of winter bonus payments by some processors has had a significant bearing on final league positions.

Aurivo jumps two places to finish second, thanks to a base of 29.06p/l, plus a 2p/l winter bonus payment. Slipping one place to third is Strathroy, with its 1p/l winter bonus on top of a 30p/l base, resulting in an alternate day price of 33.38p/l.

Leprino Foods is the other processor to pay a winter bonus in October and its 2p/l premium helped it climb one place to fourth.

That means Tirlán/Fivemiletown drops one place to finish fifth, leaving Lakeland Dairies anchored to the bottom of the table for the third month in a row.

Rolling average

Over the 12-month period ending October 2023, Dale Farm has paid the highest price across all processors.

However, having been well positioned in our monthly leagues throughout 2023, Strathroy is marginally behind in second, with no positional changes across the remainder of the table.

Co-op averages

While the monthly prices are calculated at a standardised butterfat and protein, these figures differ from the average milk solids recorded by each processor in October 2023.

Figure 1 estimates the monthly pay-out to a farmer producing 6.8% of their annual yield last month, using the actual co-op butterfat and protein figures.

Dale Farm has the highest pay-out at £18,904, with Aurivo second on £18,513.

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