Figures show that the average milk yield increased by nearly 300 litres per cow in the year to March 2020, without a rise in feed rate.
Milk solids also increased by 31kg per cow in this period, while feed costs fell by an average of £5 per tonne, Kite Consulting’s Milk Monitor Dairy Herd Costings shows.
On-farm data is collected from a range of sizes and encompasses different production systems, including grazing and none grazing and block calving and all year round calving herds.
The rise in milk and solids yield, without a subsequent increase in feed rate, points to increased cow efficiency and performance across the board, Kite Consulting said.
Chris Flint from Kite Consulting explained: “I don’t think there is one single reason behind these gains, instead we’re seeing the effects of a number of improvements and changes dairy farmers are implementing.
"These include improved forage quality via grazing management and conserved forage, better ventilation in barns, a focus on water availability and quality, increased attention on foot care and more focused use of genetics."
Dry cow and transition management continues to improve, and this is fundamental to herd performance, he said.
Margin over purchased feed per cow has also risen by £65 per cow, despite a slightly lower milk price.
"This, with a small increase in herd size, added £34,913 to the herd margin. Cows are producing more milk from the same rate of inputs,” Mr Flint added.
“We have seen feed rate remain static over the last seven years, whilst milk per cow has increased by 840 litres or 9.3%, showing efficiencies coming through.”
The Top 25% and Top 10% continue to push on, achieving 11,734 and 12,441 litres from a similar feed rate to the average at 0.36kg/l.
These herds are seeing average solids yields of 877 and 924kg/cow per year and MOPF is at £2,591 and £2,791 per cow respectively.
Mr Flint said there was no silver bullet when it comes to improving profitability on UK dairy farms, whatever their system.
"Instead farmers are seeing the benefit of making small, changes and increasing attention to detail – things that don’t cost a huge amount, but collectively can have a sizeable impact on cow performance,” he said.