For the second month in a row, Tirlán/Fivemiletown tops the NI milk league, paying 35.18p/l to a 750,000l producer with average solids and milk collected on alternate days during April.

All dairy processors opted for either a 2.5p/l or 3.5p/l cut for April, making it four consecutive months that prices have been trending downwards.

In the case of Tirlán, a 2.5p/l correction put its suppliers on a starting price of 33.15p/l, which breaks down to a 32.75p/l base, plus a 0.4p/l sustainability bonus.

The price is calculated using the co-op’s hybrid model, where 50% of milk is paid for using an A+B-C system, with the remaining 50% using a conventional payment system similar to other processors.

The co-op’s 5p/l agri-input support payment is no longer applicable from 1 April, although 2.5p/l of this has been rolled into the Tirlán base price.

Milk quality

The prices published in the April milk league are based on NI averages recorded by DAERA in the same month last year.

Butterfat is at 4.16% and protein at 3.29%, with a lactose of 4.79%, TBC 21 and SCC 191.

Those figures are behind March averages, with milk solids slowly trending downwards month on month, as NI dairy farms move closer towards peak production.

Chasing pack

While Dale Farm paid the highest base price for April on 33.55p/l, the processor is the only one to apply a transport charge on alternate day collection. This deduction ultimately leaves Dale Farm in third place, behind Strathroy, with the Omagh-based company finishing runner-up for the second month in a row.

Aurivo remains in fourth place, while Glanbia Cheese and Lakeland Dairies are tied for fifth place on 32.91p/l.

12-month average

Tirlán leads the 12-month rolling analysis for the period ending April 2023. It has now been top of this table for 36 consecutive months, going back to May 2020.

The only positional changes sees Dale Farm overtake Lakeland for second place.

Co-op averages

The April league is calculated using average milk solids published by DAERA, however, there is variation across processors.

Figure 1 shows actual butterfat and protein recorded by each processor for April to estimate the monthly payout to a farmer supplying 9.4% of their annual yield last month.

Any deductions or additions for cell-counts, volume and transport are the same as those used in the main league analysis.

Tirlán again leads this analysis, paying out £25,224 or 35.7p/l, followed by Strathroy and Dale Farm.

In the case of Lakeland Dairies, the calculation in Figure 1 includes the average pay out to suppliers under its five-year scheme to incentivise higher milk solids.

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