Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Dropping milk recording is a 'false economy'

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Concerns have been raised by advisors that farmers were considering cutting their recording amid the milk price slump
Concerns have been raised by advisors that farmers were considering cutting their recording amid the milk price slump
John Donworth, Teagasc

Dairy farmers have been warned any move towards dropping milk recording would be a "false economy" in the drive to cut costs.

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The Teagasc National Dairy Conference heard concerns raised by advisors that farmers were considering cutting their recording amid the milk price slump.

The warning comes as independent analyst Mark Voorbergen said it will be the second half of 2016 before there is any sign of a major price recovery, with Europe's supply growth probably under 2pc next year.

As both Lakeland Dairies and Glanbia confirmed they will hold their milk price for November, the IFA's dairy chair Sean O'Leary urged others to follow. He pointed out constituents will take a dip between October and January of up to 6c/l.

"Co-ops must, this month again, realise that even holding the price of milk will not protect farmers from challenging cash- flow issues in spring. However, any adjustment in the price could make matters considerably worse," said Mr O'Leary.

Farmers are already considering cost-cutting options for the spring, as Don Crowley, a milk quality specialist with Teagasc based in Clonakilty, warned that numerous farmers have already told him they are going to drop milk recording.

"In the potential drive to reduce cost base they are looking at dumping milk recording for a year or two," he said. "If we've learnt anything from 2009 and 2012, which were our last two difficult years, it was a false economy because in what they lost in milk yield, extra treatments and cull cows it would have more than paid for itself by keeping the milk recording.

"They were ready then for the bounce when the milk price came up again."

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On a recent trip to New Zealand, he said none of the 12 farmers they visited had dropped it despite the fact they are in a loss-making situation.

Currently just half of the country's dairy herds are milk recording compared with around 90pc in New Zealand. "We are trying to hold and build what we have, not lose it," said Mr Crowley.

Mandatory

John Donworth, the regional manager for Teagasc in Kerry and Limerick, said farmers should be undertaking at least five recordings a year.

"Milk recording is one of those you cannot do without - it is a mandatory spend," he said.

Doreen Corridan from Munster AI, which is one of the firms carrying out milk recordings, said cost varies as she pointed out four recordings should be done at a minimum. "With your own jars and meter and recordings it costs about €10 a cow, if you have no jars or meters, an electronic DIY meter can be supplied and that works out at about €7-8 a cow," she said.

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