2 November 2001

CHALLENGES ALLTHEWAY

Dairy farming has been a challenging business in recent years. Low milk prices reducing profits, BSE, TB and foot-and-mouth have all added to the everyday pressures of milking cows twice or in some cases three times each day.

These challenging times call for constant reviews of where the business is going, budgeting and re-budgeting each years profits.

But we should not forget the cow in these plans. It can be all too easy to keep a few extra cows, push housing to its limit and see no extra milk in the tank, says one consultant in this Update.

But one move which could be good for cows is more frequent milking and with this years gap between milk price and quota price, three-times-a-day milking could be more profitable. However, the same rules on squeezing too many cows in too small a space will apply if labour is stretched too far.

It is all too easy to forget how much a stressed workforce can reduce profitability, especially when it comes to heat detection. According to another feature in this Update, with the farm workforce reducing, good staff are worth keeping and producers need to think about training and motivation. Thats bound to be a challenge too.