Milk output has continued to tank as farmers are opting to dry off cows earlier than normal rather than feed them and milk on. Weekly deliveries are back by between 5% and 15%, with the biggest reductions in overall supply being reported in the south of the country.

Tirlán confirmed that deliveries to the co-op are running approximately 15% lower than the same period last year.

“Year-to-date deliveries are approximately 2% lower than the same period last year,” a Tirlán spokesperson said.

Supplies have not been as badly hit in the west, with Aurivo saying that deliveries are back 4% to 7% over the last few weeks.

On a year-to-date basis, milk supplies to Aurivo are back 0.5%, the co-op confirmed.

Week-to-week milk supplies to Lakeland Dairies are back 8%, while year-to-date supplies are down 1%.

Supplies to Dairygold are back by 15% week-on-week compared to 2022, while supply up until the end of October was back 3%.

Dairy processors blamed early housing due to the atrocious weather conditions and low milk prices for the collapse in supplies since September.

Increased culling of cows due to the derogation changes and poor grass quality have also contributed to the sharp drop in milk output.

Meanwhile, processors have rejected suggestions that they have increased the level of milk imports to counter the fall-off in domestic supplies.

Tirlán said there was “no change in milk imports” this year, while Aurivo pointed out that 20% of its milk is from Northern Irish suppliers.