With the abolition of the EU milk quota system in April 2015, producers supplying milk to Lakeland Dairies have the opportunity to expand their milk output and to grow their dairy farming businesses for the future. Research and surveys among our milk producers indicate the potential for a 40% increase in milk production from our supplier base. This scope for expansion also brings significant challenges for farmers, particularly in relation to technical efficiency, financial planning and labour sustainability.
As a farmer owned and controlled co-operative, Lakeland Dairies is deeply committed to the future wellbeing of milk producers. We have the required business strategies in place to support these ambitions. We have made, and are continuing to make, the necessary major investments in technologically advanced processing centres for the extra high quality milk which will flow in the post quota era.
Lakeland Dairies and the agricultural research institution Teagasc have undertaken a joint technical advisory programme to support milk producers with relevant information specific to their needs.
The sole focus of this Joint Research Programme is to ensure that Lakeland suppliers are equipped with the required knowledge and skills to plan for and to support significant expansion. All future progress must be achieved on the basis of sustainability. Maximising herd performance from current farming resources is the key to success along with reasonable capital investments where required.
The three main objectives of the programme are:
- improving efficiency of milk production
- planning for sustainable and profitable expansion
- planning with new entrants to promote a sustainable & profitable move into dairying
The methods used by the joint programme advisors to deliver these messages include interactive workshops and individual farm consultations. We have also developed a brief Guide for Producers: Expanding Your Dairy Enterprise (which you can download below).
Improving efficiency of milk production:
The joint programme team works with individual suppliers to investigate potential areas in which their milk production efficiency can be improved – examining herd genetics, grassland management, concentrate feeding levels and herd fertility. The emphasis is on improving milk composition and milk yield, improving milk from forage (MFF) and improvements in herd fertility performance (with fewer late calving cows, more structured Spring & Autumn calving seasons and breeding for fertility).
Planning for sustainable and profitable expansion:
Through workshops, farm walks and individual farm visits the joint programme team aims to assist suppliers in critically appraising their current dairy enterprise and exploring the possibility of expanding this enterprise to make it more profitable and sustainable. Through our ‘Sustainable Dairying Calculator’ we can accurately reflect current performance while also predicting potential returns from expansion. This also allows us to estimate capital investment required and illustrate the capacity of the expanded herd to fund the investment.
Planning with New Entrants:
Potential new entrants to dairying will be offered the opportunity to sit down with a joint programme advisor to plan the most sustainable and profitable route into dairying for their farm. Our ‘Sustainable Dairying Calculator’ allows us to plan potential cow numbers for your farm in addition to calculating how much grass must be grown to meet herd requirements. We will help you to plan where the investment is needed and lay out potential returns at differing levels of efficiency and performance.
Download and read 'Expanding your Dairy Enterprise - A Guide for Milk Producers' by clicking on the button below.