Dairy farmers should scrutinise every detail of their businesses if they want to weather the storm of milk price volatility, a conference has heard.
Farmers at the South Wales Dairy Conference in Pembrokeshire were told to concentrate on communication with family members, advisers and the bank manager during the downturn.
Allan Wilkinson, head of agriculture at HSBC Bank, encouraged producers to contact suppliers to explain the potential effects of the situation and let them plan ahead.
“Compare your own performance from year to year, but also share your figures with other dairy farmers in the locality, whether through discussion groups, Dairy-Co or accountants and advisers.”
Allan Wilkinson, HSBC Bank
He also said benchmarking was critical and could benefit every farming business.
“Compare your own performance from year to year, but also share your figures with other dairy farmers in the locality, whether through discussion groups, Dairy-Co or accountants and advisers,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“It will help you to understand where you are and it will help you work out if there is a different way of doing things.”
UK dairy farmers were also told to look to their Dutch counterparts to learn about making the most of existing resources as a way of growing the business even in a period of low prices.
Willem Hessels, technical manager at feed manufacturer ForFarmers in the Netherlands, said Dutch farmers had managed to make their existing systems work better for them since regulations governing phosphate output were introduced in 2013.
“There is a lot of opportunity for optimising farm businesses in the UK,’’ he said.
One approach, Mr Hessels suggested, was to outsource youngstock rearing.
In a herd of 100 cows, based on a figure of £1.40 an animal a day, the net margin could be raised by £14,110. Also, reducing calving interval by two weeks could generate savings of £7,909 Mr Hessels calculated.