Milk Link has thrown a lifeline to the former Dairy Farmers of Britain members without customers.

They have been offered short-term contracts with three-month notice periods at 18ppl. Receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers is paying just 10ppl.

The surprise move comes even though many of the remaining farmers are small producers in locations widely regarded as unfavourable. Milk Link said it was a practical solution for both sides.

The 18ppl price - well below its standard rate - reflected increased haulage costs and the fact the milk was being converted into commodities such as SMP, said corporate affairs director Will Sanderson.

"[The deal] will allow them time to assess how they want to move forward in dairy farming," he said.

Several dozen DFB farmers have signed up to the deal, which is available to the 143 DFB members without new customers.