11 August 1995

Quota key in dairy survey

THE key challenge facing the dairy industry for the current milk year is quota management, according to a Dalgety survey in 1994/95 of 480 of its 2000 costed dairy herds in the UK.

Keeping within quota, when to buy it and at what price were highlighted as the main problems. Despite this, 90% of those producers surveyed ended the year on or close to quota.

Improving milk from forage was the second most important management challenge identified. This was to support the increased yields a cow most were plannng for this year.

Maize silage was a popular option for achieving this improvement, said Dalgety research technical director Dr Sotiris Papasolomontos. Just over half those surveyed grew maize, and planned to increase reliance on it.

Milk quality was the third priority, with producers keen to improve milk proteins to benefit from milk contract bonuses. Over a third wished to reduce milk fat. "This is probably as a means of freeing-up quota or at least avoiding the butterfat trigger," said Dr Papasolomontos.

Fourth management challenge was herd health, with key concerns fertility, mastitis and lameness.

With over 87% of producers surveyed planning to maintain or boost current level of capital expenditure and 92% looking to maintain current staffing, Dr Papasolomontos said dairy industry prospects looked bright. "However, the extent to which the level of milk returns achieved in recent months can be maintained will determine the sustainability of this optimism," he said.

&#8226 Over 10,000 dairy producers are predicted to quit the industry over the next five years, says Dalgety.