10 May 1996

NZ-same profit but half the price

NEW Zealand dairy producers make the same profit a litre as the average UK farmer – the difference is they receive only half as much for their milk, says Genus adviser Neil Adams.

"Is our climate so different that in comparison to New Zealand it costs us two to three times as much to produce a litre of milk?" he asks. It could be that endless form filling and quota checking divert our attention from important aspects of grassland management. He recognises that as the ratio between concentrate and milk price has been favourable producers have become less concerned about the amount of cake they feed. But stresses that most of the main costs on farms are now rising much faster than the milk price.

"Concentrates are becoming more expensive, quota leasing prices refuse to budge and the costs of silage making marches ever higher," he says. Yet most dairy producers have little confidence in grazed grass and some now rely entirely on purchased and conserved feeds. "It is time for a rethink, time to stand back and take a hard look at how we are producing milk."

&#8226 Genus helped the British Grassland Society persuade the New Zealand Dairy Board Livestock Improvement Corporation to allow its senior consultant Mark Blackwell to work in England and Wales for four months.