Dairy Updat: Dale Whalley 1/4/05

SNOW, SNOW and more snow, not in Cheshire but in Holland when I visited at the beginning of March.

On the morning I arrived, the worst snow for 25 years had fallen overnight. Usually I”m met at the airport, but Amsterdam was in chaos so I had to catch a northbound train to a town called Alkmaar on the edge of the worst hit area, to meet up with the agent.

I”ve never seen such deep snow before, about 50cm, and driving around Friesland selecting this batch of heifers will be a lifelong memory. Despite only having a 2wd drive car, we managed to get to 19 farms in two days and select 36 to calve between now and the end of June.

 It was amazing that by lunchtime all the roads and cycle paths had been cleared and with no hills the children were all being dragged around on their sledges by their Mums.

 This winter as usual has been a constant battle to keep cell counts low, after adopting most ideas to help the problem before the winter started we are still slowly losing the fight. We are still receiving our 1p a litre bonus but it is getting a bit close to the limit. After taking a series of milk tests, we have discovered that the main culprit is Strep dysgalactiae which is going to require us using different antibiotics to cure.

An extra 1.5p a litre from Apr 1 will be welcome and should help make this year”s budgets look a little healthier. Being purely selfish I”m glad we supply a liquid dairy which is always going to pay a premium price. Getting the milk price higher for commodity products is going to be more difficult, particularly with the world market. The price gap between direct supply and the co-op could widen.

I”ve just heard my heifers are stuck in France waiting to catch a ferry because of the French strike. Holiday season must be approaching.

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