In Northern Ireland practical research shows that an extra concentrate feeding box in a barn with robotic milkers does not decrease the number of visits of cows to the robots. Cows that received more concentrates in the milking robot visited the separate concentrate box less often. The cows that got more concentrates in the milking robot also left more of this than the cows that got more concentrates in the concentrate box.
The United Kingdom has stopped negotiations with Canada about a free trade agreement. Significant agricultural exports to Canada in 2022 included about 22 million euro of cheese and 11 million euro of beef. Since January 1, 2024 the United Kingdom is no longer allowed to use the EU Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for cheese but in practice an import tariff of 200 percent applies. In exchange for a lower rate Canada wants among other things access to the British beef market. In Canada, beef cattle are commonly treated with hormones. However, the United Kingdom does not allow production or import of hormone-treated beef.
In the United Kingdom a report of the NMR based on data from 500 NMR-recorded Holstein Friesian herds for the year ending August 2023 shows annual trends in herd health from 2010 to 2023. In this period 70 percent of herds had a somatic cell count (scc) below 200000 cells per millilitre in the year ending August 2023. This was an improvement from 44 percent in 2010. In 2023 of all cows in the 500 herd sample 52 percent completed their lactations without recording a single high scc above 200000. The equivalent figure in 2010 was 35 percent of the cows. Mastitis incidence across a 242 sample of the 500 recorded herds averaged 22 cases per 100 cows per year, a reduction of 14 cases per 100 cows per year since 2016. In half the herds (with mastitis records) 85 percent of cows recorded no mastitis in completed lactations. This was an increase from 79 percent in the same period. Fertility improved also. Since 2010 the mean age at first calving decreased by 89 days to 804 days. Since 2022 it has increased by five days. Milk yields remained stable for the past five years, averaging 8737 kilogram in 2023. This was up from 8708 kilogram in 2022 and by more than 1000 kilogram on 2010 data. Lifetime milk per cow per day increased by 25 percent from 10.5 kilogram in 2010 to 12.7 kilogram in 2023. Milk fat content has increased from 3.35 percent in 2010 to 4.26 percent in 2023 and is up from 4.18 percent in 2022. Protein content has risen from 3.33 percent to 3.36 percent since 2022, up from 3.27 percent in 2010.
In the United Kingdom the largest dairy cooperative Arla is considering selling its speciality cheese plant in Melton Mowbray. This because over the last few years the speciality cheese market in the UK has continued to decline. The plant employs about 60 people. Until there has been taken a decision the plant will continue to be operational and there will be no impact to production, customers, or employees, according to Arla. In the UK Arla has about 2000 member farms.
In Ireland the dairy cooperative Tirlan is inviting farmers that are considering starting dairy farming to inform them about opportunities for cooperation.
In Ireland about 75 dairy farms produce organic. They represent about one percent of the total Irish milk production. The Irish Organic Milk Suppliers Co-op has currently been granted as producer organisation (PO). It is the first dairy producer organisation in the country.
In Ireland in 2023 the intake of milk by milk processors was according to provisional statement 8.5 billion (10*9) litres which was 4.1 percent less than in 2022 and 3.4 percent less than in 2021.
In Sweden the dairy cooperative Arla has this month (February) introduced consumer products without cow milk as an ingredient but based on Swedish oats. The products are enriched with fibre, vitamin D and folic acid (B9). According to Arla milk remains the core of Arla’s activities but consumers who do not want to consume milk or milk products Arla wants to be able to serve with plant-based alternatives.
In Finland the dairy cooperative Valio is in change negotiations with employees which affects Valio’s Finnish headquarters functions, technical services, maintenance and factory services. A total of 1170 people are within the scope of the negotiations. The change negotiations deal with potential dismissals of employment and material changes to the terms and conditions of employment, such as changes in job descriptions or in the content of the job duties. Potential headcount reductions will affect up to 130 people and the planned material changes to the terms and conditions of employment will affect up to 135 people. Valio employs about 4300 people of which 3700 in Finland. The reasons for the negotiations are production and economic reasons, according to Valio.
In Norway dairy farmers produce not enough milk to meet the national consumption of milk and dairy products. Because of that the largest Norwegian dairy cooperative Tine has got permission to add a maximum of three percent of imported milk to dairy products that carry the label „of Norwegian origin“. Tine uses imported milk powder for the production of yoghurt.
In the European Union in 2022 for the first time since 2010 less milk was produced. In 2022, the total milk production of 160 million tons was 0.3 million tons less than in 2021. Almost three quarters (70%) of the milk was processed into cheese and butter. Germany was the largest producer of cheese and butter.
Six European and American dairies and food companies Bel Group, Danone, Nestlé, Lactalis, General Mills and Kraft Heinz together with the international Environmental Defense Fund have at COP 28 in Dubai launched the Dairy Methane Action Alliance (DMAA). The companies will set a new standard for accountability, transparency, and climate action. They are the first to commit to annually account and publicly disclose methane emissions within their dairy supply chains, and they are each pledging to create and implement a comprehensive methane action plan. Environmental Defense Fund is taking the lead in the Dairy Methane Action Alliance and is offering companies technical support and best practices for accounting and disclosure and access to research and solutions. The sustainability nonprofit Ceres will provide technical guidance support and lead the development of a methane action plan template that aligns with investor and corporate expectations as well as helping to ensure companies are making progress against key plan milestones.
The France headquartered and stock market listed dairy Danone will become the first corporate funder of the Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator, the largest ever globally coordinated research effort on enteric methane, coordinated by the Global Methane Hub and supported by an alliance of philanthropic organizations and governments. The Accelerator, which has already raised USD 200 million (185 million euro) in funding, will invest in breakthrough research and innovation to create new scalable and practical solutions for livestock farmers that can mitigate enteric fermentation, which is the digestive process of ruminant livestock. Research will include mitigation of methane via feed additives, plant and animal genetics, methane vaccines, as well as accessible and affordable measurement technologies.
In Germany in November 2023 compared to October 2023 the raw material or compound value of milk at farm increased 3.8 eurocent to 43.0 eurocent per kilogram milk with 4.0 percent fat and 3.4 percent protein (exclusive VAT). This is 8.9 eurocent less than in the same month one year before. The highest future price of milk for the next 18 months on the Kieler Börsenmilchwert European Energy Exchange is the price for April and May 2025 at 50.5 eurocent. The lowest future price is the price for January 2024 at 42.6 eurocent.
In northern Germany the game and livestock disease hemorrhagic sepsis is spreading. The disease is susceptible to domestic and wild ruminants (cattle, buffalo, goats, sheep, deer) and also to pigs. The disease can cause death after two days. The disease is caused by certain types of the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Asymptomatically infected or sick wildlife, including wolves, are considered as possible source of infection
Dairy farms in Germany and in other countries that are members of the international organic association Naturland will from 2024 only be allowed to use half the amount of feed compounds that compete with human food than would be permitted under EU organic regulations. Naturland which is founded in Germany but active in 60 countries worldwide, limits the use of concentrates for dairy cows to a maximum of 20 percent of the annual ration. The only exception to this are animal feeds that emphatically do not compete with human food, for example spent grains. The upper limit of 40 percent set in the EU organic regulation still applies to them. According to the organic association, avoiding food competition increases the sustainability and climate-friendliness of dairy farming.
In Germany in the milk production control year 2022/2023 average milk production was 9378 kilogram milk with 4.09 percent fat and 3.48 percent protein. This was 252 kilogram milk more than in the previous year. There were 3.27 million cows tested. This was 44500 cows less than in the previous year. Tested herds had average 95.6 cows with a variety of average 57 cows in the southern state Bavaria and 456 cows in the eastern state Berlin-Brandenburg. Average somatic cell count was 230000 cells per millilitre. Of the tested cows 77.3 percent had a cell count less than 200000. In the southern state Bavaria where the most cows were tested (892451) average production was 8337 kilogram milk with 4.18 percent fat and 3.52 percent protein. However: the highest average milk production was realized in the eastern state Sachsen-Anhalt were 88500 cows tested 10470 kilogram milk with 3.97 percent fat and 3.45 percent protein.
In Belgium research at the University of Ghent has shown that cow milk contains easily measurable substances that provide information about the cow’s energy balance and the risk of chronic milk fever. This can be measured quickly with a method comparable to Near Infra-Red Analysis, which means it could also be measured on the farm. Until now to get this information required expensive and time-consuming blood analysis.
In Belgium from January 1, 2024 every member of the Belgian Feed Association (BFA) will use measures to limit methane emissions from cattle on Flemish farms. In 2019, the BFA decided, together with the government, researchers and chain partners from the Flemish agriculture, dairy and meat industry, to reduce methane emissions from cattle by 26 percent by 2030 compared to 2016. To this end, a strong focus was placed on developing feeding measures. The ration of Flemish cattle is therefore adjusted in such a way that the cow’s digestive process is influenced, resulting in the cow producing less methane. Livestock farmers who apply a feeding measure and incur higher costs can be partially reimbursed by the government. The Belgian Feed Association has 133 animal feed producers as members. They represent 93 percent of Belgian animal feed production.
In Belgium at the European dairy summit in Brussels, the German professor Windisch from the Technical University of Munich stated that the production of a glass of oat drink theoretically also produces a glass of cow milk. This is due to the by-products of oat milk, which are not edible for humans but are edible for ruminants. He also stated that methane emissions from livestock are often exaggerated because methane has a half-life of only twelve years and is therefore broken down much faster than CO2. If there were no more ruminants, this would only save less than one percent of methane emissions, according to the professor.