Between 1.5% and 2% of the national dairy herd has already perished as a result of FMD The continued culling of dairy cows is creating fears among dairy companies of a growing threat to UK milk supplies later this year. Dairy cow numbers were already 4.1% down on a year earlier at the last government census in December. Up to this week, between 1.5% and 2% of the national dairy herd has already perished as a result of FMD. A loss of 6% or more of national milk supplies is clearly going to create difficulties as dairies and creameries face shrinking milk output. However this may not hit supplies to the markets until later this year. This is because milk supplies always rise to an annual peak between April and June as cows take advantage of plentiful supplies of spring grass. It is during this period that extra cheese in particular is made, which is then matured for sale next autumn and winter. Extra butter is also made in this period and stored for later use. Lower milk supplies will not only reduce these carry forward possibilities but may also leave dairy throughputs below normal from July or August onwards. Another side effect of foot and mouth is the disruption to the breeding programme in dairy herds. A majority of calves are bred by artificial insemination to take advantage of pedigree bulls. The foot and mouth restrictions on farm visiting are disrupting the normal programmes in which inseminators visit farms for their work. This promises to disrupt the normal calving patterns for much of the national dairy herd and will inevitably distort the normal pattern of milk production, not only in the short term but possibly for one or two years ahead. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}