Farmer Focus: Dairy can deliver for consumers despite vegan trend

What a fantastic winter. I say this so far, as the days begin to stretch.

This extra time is allowing me to measure how many metres it is to the back of the silage pit. I reckon we will have enough, but no surplus.

Our zero-grazer will be serviced in the next two weeks and will hopefully start feeding grass to the cows in early March. However, I fear February could be very cold.

Up until now the good weather certainly has helped in slurry application.

Cows are currently averaging 33kg of milk a day with no forage over 11ME (metabolisable energy), so I’m reasonably happy with how we are performing.

I had the privilege of attending  the Semex conference in Glasgow last week which I thoroughly enjoyed, of course.

See also: Alternative ways to market your milk

The four outstanding speakers for me were NFU president Minette Batters, dairy analyst Chris Walkland, Sue McCloskey from Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana, and Ash Amirahmadi from Arla.

The resounding message from all was about the changing eating habits of our consumers.

Yes, vegans also got a mention, but they’re not the only concern. Recently I’ve met a few people who can’t drink milk, but they don’t know exactly why it disagrees with them.

Ms McCloskey from Fair Oaks shared some work they’ve been doing understanding the make-up of milk and how removing certain ingredients can sort a lot of these digestive upsets and can give milk an even higher health status.

Mr Ahmirahmadi was very inspirational as usual on how we need to collectively protect and promote our industry.

It’s disappointing that veganism is growing by trying to abuse our livestock industry with misinformation, but don’t lose heart.

Dairy is still very much in demand, but not as we know it. Consumers are always looking for new products and I believe dairy can deliver.

Ms McCloskey made a great comment on the younger generation. Their identities no longer exist in black and white but are on more of a spectrum. They are constantly dipping into different identities and philosophies, and when it comes to diet many people more generally are doing the same.

Gary Mitchell is a Farmer Focus writer from South West Scotland. Read his biography.