Dairy Update Farmer Focus: Steve Brown

Last months Farmer Focus was accompanied with a nostalgic picture of me stood in a milking parlour, about to attach a cluster to a cow. Perhaps, however, some of you are beginning to think of me as a Walter Mitty type character, whose tales of robotic milking are fiction.

A recent visit by a FW photographer should remove such doubts, and providing I haven’t broken his camera, you may see evidence of robots and may conclude they are ageing better than I am.

For reasons that may become apparent over time, this expansion is somewhat “cart before horse” and I am paying for two more robots that are for the foreseeable future earning me absolutely nothing. To make matters worse, my milk price is at present reduced, due to a milk balancing charge, implemented to encourage a level supply of milk. (For fact fans, 16% of my milk sold in 2010 has been subject to a 9% price penalty.)

My total milk sold for the year looks to be less than 0.5% different from my milk forecast, so as Eric Morecambe might say, “I’ve produced all of the right milk, but not necessarily in the right order.”

Hurdles to getting the new robots to where they will end up are currently electric, (see what I did there?), and planning, I’m sure Antony Gormley had less hassle getting permission to erect his 20m high Angel of the North landmark than I would a cow shed, while the information required by the Electric Board would baffle Michael Faraday, let alone me. My lack of knowledge on this subject came to light (see what I did again?) when I asked the van man if I could buy a light bulb. When he replied “What Watt?” I thought he was deaf and had a stutter.

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