18 September 1998

FACE UP TO THE CHALLENGE

A YEAR of low milk prices, poor cull cow values and the threat of even lower returns once the Calf Processing Aid Scheme ends in November means that dairy producers face on-going challenges to their businesses.

But many are already attempting to meet challenges by trimming costs and assessing every facet of businesses. Technical and business information available at this years European Dairy Farming Event should help provide more pointers towards a better future.

The Spotlight on Profit seminar programme provides vital information on political moves and the future of milk marketing and dairy farming. Staying profitable at low prices and getting the most from the milk market are also covered. Latest research will also be uncovered in the technical display, including fertility facts, whether mats or mattresses are a better bet for cow comfort and a new computer rationing programme.

As consultants in this supplement explain, remaining in milk production will require a much greater focus on cost control. That means better fertility management – which allowed one Berkshire producer to cut vet bills by £2000 this year – and attempting to reduce cull costs by improving cow longevity.

Better use of grass will also help boost returns, while, for some producers, a move towards organic production could be worth considering. Both mean long-term changes to the way businesses are run – but what should you consider now to ensure you survive the next decade and are farming successfully and profitability in 2008?

Increase output, but remain flexible; reduce production costs to 15p/litre; evaluate your business then act to improve it; optimise output; budget and benchmark but avoid sweeping changes: Five different options from consultants are offered in this supplement, and among them are ideas all producers should at least consider.

Survival can mean taking tough decisions, but ones which may help bolster business profitability and secure your future in dairying.