A video showing how CCF is working with its members to improve performance and reduce costs.
It’s been a bumpy ride for farmers across all sectors but for our members who produce milk for a living the chances are that, at this moment in time, they wake up every day knowing they could be worse off by bedtime.
The dairy industry here in Wales has had a tough couple of years; looking for a glimmer of optimism isn’t that easy when milk payouts are still so low.
The milk price will eventually rebound as global demand picks up and supply declines, as it is beginning to do right now, albeit with the lower priced milk.
That knowledge is some comfort but it is likely that producers will have to get used to the roller coaster effect of supply and demand in an unregulated market.
As this will be a new experience for dairy farmers, we want to help our dairy farmer customers to be in a better position to deal with these swings, as and when they happen.
To this end, we took the initiative of commissioning a study with the Scottish Rural University Colleges (S.R.U.C.), analysing the businesses of two of our dairy farmer customers. The S.R.U.C. looked at everything, from cow housing, labour, finance and grass utilisation to fertility and milk contracts. Nothing was spared.
We then invited other dairy farmers to take part in workshops, looking at both cases and coming up with their thoughts before hearing the recommendations made by the reports’ authors.
We carefully chose the two farms because they needed to reflect the typical dairy farm here in Wales; we wanted every farmer at those workshops to benefit from what they learnt at the workshops, even if it was just a simple S.W.O.T. analysis with their own farms to enable them to see how they could strengthen their own businesses for the future.
For both farms, it was no surprise that the low milk price was seen as a threat. One farmer was paid 16.54ppl in May plus a 1.35ppl volume bonus but his cost of production was 28ppl. You only need basic maths to work out that this situation is just not sustainable. The second farm received 19.12ppl for its June milk with a cost of production of 23.4ppl. Both farms had different approaches to their business but the cost of finance was one of the big differentials between the two farms.
We appreciate every system is different but what is clear from this study is that farmers need to focus on costs to ride out future market volatility, deciding what is important on the farm and what is simply something “nice to have”.
The challenge is to think long-term about whether a business can be profitable against a backdrop of volatile milk prices and reduced support payments going forward.
What did emerge from this study was that the strongest businesses will be those who give attention to cost control, and who regularly look at their business model.
The key take home messages here are to know your own business, its costs and its limitations, match your milk buyer with your farm’s strengths, benchmark against others, have a strategy and be prepared to change.
– Keith Gosney, general manager, CCF Ltd.
The following article on FG insight, featuring CCF’s own Richard Lewis, contains some useful information on the signs and treatment of twin lamb disease and is worth a read as we approach the most critical stages of pregnancy:
Congratulations to the Coney family from Lower Town Farm, Lampeter Velfrey, Pembrokeshire who scooped the Supreme Lamb Carcass prize at the 2015 Welsh Winter Fair.
This season they changed to a lamb blend from our Glanrhyd production facility. Kate Coney stated, “the food was obviously good as they went on to win the supreme champion title“.
Animal Health Best Practice showcased in Pembrokeshire
At the end of May the Crymych Branch of Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers held an Animal Health best practice day at Maes y Felin Farm near Whitland hosted by the Williams family. There was an excellent turnout from both local farms and as well as some from further afield.
At the start of the day Paul Williams spoke about the sheep system he has at the farm. The flock at Maes y Felin consists of just over 1200 mainly Welsh Halfbred ewes lambing to Texel and Hampshire rams. The target for the first batch of lambs is to reach 18kg deadweight at 12 weeks solely off milk and grass, whilst the remainder are finished without any form of supplement within 24 weeks of age with them all grading within the R3L bracket.
The first session was a dosing and pour on demonstration by Sean Finn from Elanco Animal Health. Focus was on Gun calibration and maintenance, dosing to the correct weight as well as correct nozzle selection and application technique for fly pour on’s. He pointed out that even if the best product is being used it is wasted if not given or applied correctly.
There was a quiz during the lunch break and something that was apparent from the results was the wide variety of weights guessed for the 4 different lambs marked. This reinforced the need to weigh animals before dosing as some would have been under dosed by as much as 25% if those guessed weights had been used. This has the potential to speed up the onset of resistance on any farm dramatically.
In the afternoon there was a presentation and a practical demonstration by Ieuan Davies of Agrimin on the new Smartrace Lamb Bolus. He spoke about the importance and the production benefits of having the correct minerals available to growing lambs. A number of lambs had been blood tested prior to the day and were showing a lack of essential minerals.
Poor mineral profiles can adversely affect growth rates in lambs so it is important to correct this. Of course if there are problems in lambs it is likely that the whole flock on a farm will have problems such as poor conception rates at tupping. Using a bolus like the Agrimin Smartrace range is an easy way to ensure the balance is maintained.
However whilst a trace element deficiency is often blamed for poor production, rations short of energy or the presence of gut parasites or liver fluke, are often more common causes of ill-thrift. The classic clinical signs associated with trace element deficiencies can be slow to develop. Leading up to this, the only signs may be lighter weights or poorer lambs at slaughter.
Therefore a deficiency state should always be confirmed by independent testing and advice before supplementing stock with extra trace elements.
CCF are delighted to have been able to secure a new store so close to our old site in Machynlleth which will help us ensure we can offer an improved service to our valued member customers in that area. The new store at Treowain Inustrial Estate has excellent access and much more storage space for the requirements of the local farmers.
Our Manager Dai Foulkes, along with Arwel Evans, have both worked extremely hard in difficult conditions from the old site for many years to ensure customers received a good service, but the issues with lack of space and difficult access were proving more difficult as the years went by.
As a farmer-owned business, we work for our farmer members as shareholders and as customers, so the purchase of this site had to be a good investment for the members and a suitable location & size, which we believe it is.
The site is very focused on the needs of the farmer members but will also carry a small range of country products, with a more extensive range available at our Country Store in Aberystwyth.