20 November 1998


MILK producers have plenty to weigh up as they contemplate the future.

Immediately, the winter feeding period lies ahead. While low feed prices are welcome, forage quality is dubious, and rain has frustrated plans to extend the grazing season.

Milk prices teeter at levels barely adequate for the survival of many enterprises. The stand-off between heavyweight buyers and their largest supplier, Milk Marque, continues. The co-ops rock-bottom producer price offers a painful test of commitment.

Farmer-funded generic promotion for milk is again under debate. Can it pay off without the full-hearted support of processors and retailers?

Further down the road lies the uncertainty of Agenda 2000 proposals, with lurking concern that UK dairying could fall hostage to political trade-off with EU partners manifestly more committed than our own government to the security of a vital industry as our report on the support enjoyed by Italian dairying shows.

Older producers must question whether they really want to spend the rest of their lives tied to a cows tail, just to stay in business.

But scratch a dairy farmer, and youll generally find an optimist. As reports in these pages reveal, there is much that can be done to ensure a secure and profitable future. The lights are not about to go out.

Farmer Focus 3/4

Feeding this years maize silage 6

Profitability conference 8

Heifer rearing – does it pay? 12

Condition scoring for better health 14

Grazing benefits 17

Italian dairying – on-farm 18

Italian dairying – breeding 20

Milk marketing dilemma 22

Wilts farm progress 24

FW/Axient profit challenge 26

Scours – reducing the risks 29

Quality assurance schemes 30

Robotic milkers – cow care 32

Bulk milk urea study 36

Bedding your herd – the options 39

Feeding for better fertility 41

Shorthorns – better than Holsteins? 42

Edited by Emma Penny and Jessica Buss

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