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One Size Doesn't Always Fit All

08 June 2011

UK - Finding the right opportunity to develop your business is the key to making a profit from milk, and this won't necessarily mean increasing the size of your enterprise or chasing the highest milk yields, according to Dr Peter Thorne of DairyCo Milkbench+.

Speaking at the DairyCo and Dairy UK Solutions and Opportunities conference today Dr Thorne said: "The results from Milkbench+, the DairyCo business benchmarking programme, show that increasing size is just one option. We have smaller farms in our data that are extremely efficient and are making money, suggesting that business planning and the right management practices are the most influential factors when it comes to making money from milk."

Citing an example of a farm with just under 100 cows as "one of the most profitable we've seen", Dr Thorne emphasised that the data from Milkbench+ showed the importance of looking at efficiency in the broadest possible terms.

"Farmers are constantly hearing the term 'efficiency'," he said, "but we need to be clear as an industry just what this means. Opportunities for improving efficiency are demonstrated clearly when farms use benchmarking tools to compare data sets across a variety of farms and farming systems. It could be about efficient use of labour, or getting the appropriate management skills in place. Think of it as friendly competition."

The most important factor is to run a system which suits you. "For example, all levels of grazing, from 0 to 50 weeks, can produce milk efficiently and profitably," said Dr Thorne. "Although the most inefficient farms are found among those who might appear to be sitting on the fence in the middle, there are still many efficient producers who do just this.

"With Milkbench+ we are not looking purely at profit and loss, we are taking into account all inputs, including labour costs, including estimated costs and property costs. This allows us to see where the opportunities for increasing efficiency in the business are."

As the development and analysis of Milkbench+ continues the team hope the next stage will be using the data to look at what differentiates the best producers and demonstrate where there are and aren't opportunities for improvement. "Year on year, we should be able to build our understanding," says Dr Thorne.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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