16 January 1998

Market advice for milk area

DAIRY producers must be market-orientated, giving value, quality and service in both milk and stock, Richard Ashworth, owner of the Fairlight Herd of Holsteins, Sussex and chairman of United Milk Producers, told the British Cattle Breeders Conference in Cambridge this week.

But these factors were not negotiable or optional and he cited every-other-day-milk collection as an example of future policy that would be dictated by retailers.

Breeding using PIN was irrelevant for 50% of producers. Liquid sales account for half the milk and some buyers only wanted this at 3.5% fat and 2.9% protein, while others had introduced a price cap on protein payments – as it is PIN is weighted towards producing milk protein.

"Milk producers are faced with three choices. They need to improve efficiency, get bigger or get out. But they must also improve training, genetics, information technology and new technology, the standards of which have been very poor," he said.

"Excellence in genetics has only come from overseas companies. In this country, 35 years of progeny testing has never produced a single bull comparable with those on a global scale," said Mr Ashworth.

But he believed that MOETand Cogent gave us an opportunity to produce world class bulls.

&#8226 Full conference report in next weeks issue.