John Stanley

5 October 2001

John Stanley

John Stanley farms 336ha

(830 acres) in Leics,

including 90ha (220 acres)

of grass and 24ha

(60 acres) of maize.

Home-grown wheat is also

fed. His 140-cow herd has

a rolling average yield of

11,000 litres on

three-times-a-day milking. Off

the farm, he is involved with

the Royal Agricultural

Society of England and

the Royal Vet College

I JOINED a group of clients of Kite Consultants to look around a new 600-cow dairy unit in Gloucester recently. The investment in the state-of-the-art parlour and dairy made my four-year-old unit look positively medieval.

I am sure higher standards of cleanliness and professionalism will be needed in our industry to satisfy the ever-growing demands of milk purchasers and customers. However, where is the money coming from to fund this investment? The current milk price of about 20p a litre is barely enough to turn most businesses back into profit, let alone supply funds for investment.

We must produce accurate figures for cost of production, including producers own labour, cost of quota, opportunity cost of land and depreciation. With nothing hidden, perhaps our milk buyers will realise that we cannot sustain milk production in the UK without a sensible price for milk. We need healthy profits to invest in the future.

However, milk quota appears to be a good buy at the moment. I purchased 150,000 litres at 16p/litre after missing the bottom of the market last month. The last time milk price was about 20p/litre, some years ago, quota was costing well over 30p/litre. I am sure next year, when hitting quota is more likely, the price will increase again.

On the foot-and-mouth front, we had a scare a few weeks ago. A case was suspected some four miles from us in suckler calves. The cattle were slaughtered on suspicion only to discover, eight days later, that brambles in the hedge was the likely cause of the symptoms. How many other perfectly healthy animals have been killed because vets still cannot make an accurate diagnosis? It could just have easily been my dairy cows.

At least we have managed to move 21 culls on the OTMS scheme, but I cannot find a buyer for Holstein bull calves. We have kept some here, rather than slaughter them, but it is a sad day when a bull calf is born dead and we are pleased. &#42

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