Autumn calving impact on milk production

Published 8 August 18

AHDB recently reported that autumn block calving is on the rise. Of the 7% of farmers who said they were going to change their calving pattern over the next 2 years, 59% said they would choose autumn calving, 16% a dual block, and 5% either spring or all year round (AYR). But how could that shift in calving patterns impact on GB milk volumes.

Compared with AYR, autumn calvers will typically see higher milk production from October through to January, with a drop off in July and August. If every farmer moved to the same typical profile, the switch in calving patterns over the next 2 years could see GB milk volumes drop by 3-4% during the late summer, with an increase seen through the autumn. The impact on the rest of the year would be relatively small. The shift would be enough to see the GB milk production trough brought forward from October/November to August.

 Calving impact on production Aug18

However, the real impact is likely to be less than seen in this theoretical calculation. In reality, farmers switching to block calving have different timings based on their own individual requirements. Drying off periods will vary as will the length of the calving block, and it is this variation that will dampen the impact on overall GB milk production for any individual month.

Farmers considering changing calving pattern can model the impact on their own milk production by using the  AHDB’s milk forecasting calculator.