19 September 1997


MACHINERY costs are well under control by one Berks milk and cereal producer despite a doubling up of machinery necessary to run two separate dairy units.

Machinery running costs for Duncan Hodges Brocas Lands, Mortimer, Reading, are average compared with other similar units costed by Reading University. It achieves a gross margin of £520 for each £100 spent on machinery, but spending on replacement machinery is only £95/ha (£38/acre) compared with the costings £182/ha (£74/acre) average.

Mr Hodges biggest saving is through membership of a machinery ring. This means he can contract in any equipment used only occasionally or contract out machinery to better justify ownership.

However, the machinery ring doesnt help with the running of two dairy units that cannot share everyday machinery. But he minimises investment using older basic tractors and keeping only one teleporter loader; the other unit makes do with a loader tractor.

However, labour costs have been high. Latest Reading costings show a gross margin of £307 for each £100 labour compared with the Brocas Lands average of £394GM/£100 labour.

DRC consultant Hugh Crooks says too much labour may be allocated to the cereal enterprise. "Ensure labour is used full time and that a contractor is not doing a job that farmstaff could by hiring a machine," he says.n

Visiting the European Dairy Farming Event? Then be sure to enter the farmers weekly competition in the Spotlight on Profit exhibit.

Sponsored by Dairy Research and Consultancy and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, the competition prize is worth over £400.

It includes one place at the RABDF Dairy Farming Conference, on February 24/25, plus overnight accommodation, meals and conference papers.

Also offered is one years membership of DRCs Dairylink Direct service, including bi-monthly research and technical bulletins, dairy management notes, practical farm workshops and a technical seminar day.

Duncan and Kay Hodge… using a machinery ring to control costs.

Spotlight on Profit speakers timetable

The Spotlight on Profit seminars are open to all dairy farmers with a line up of seven speakers over the two day event (see timetable).

Both the minister and shadow minister of agriculture are speaking and could offer some clues as to how EU dairy reform will take shape.

Quotas issues will be covered in detail, with Bill Madders speaking on How long will quotas have a value; Sion Roberts on Quotas to 2006 – for better or worse; and Ian Potter on Quotas to 2006 – for richer or poorer.

Visitors can also hear Milk Marques David Yeomans speak on The prospects for milk and MDCs Peter Merson will provide an update on how the organisation is spending producers money.

The seminars start at 11am on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday 1711.00David Yeomans, chief executive, Milk Marque.The prospects for milk.

12.00David Curry, shadow minister of agriculture.

14.30Bill Madders, chairman of COPA/COGECA MilkCommittee and member of the EC Milk AdvisoryCommittee. How long will quotas have a value?

15.15Peter Merson, chief executive MDC.How MDC is spending your money.

Thursday 1811.00Jeff Rooker, minister of agriculture. Address.

12.00Sion Roberts, chief economist NFU.

Quotas to 2006 – for better or worse.

13.30Ian Potter, Ian Potter Associates.

Quotas to 2006 – for richer or poorer.