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Thread: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

  1. #31
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Headless chicken View Post
    We have taken the plunge this year and are set to go back into milk this autumn.

    The best thing anyone said to us was keep cost down. You can add it later but it's very difficult to take it away.

    Make the system simple BUT don't just chuck in any crappy little parlour. If your going to spend your life in it make sure it's somewhere you want to be and enjoy being!
    Best of luck to you!
    Keep cost down? What kind of system do you intend to operate?

  2. #32
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    YES you are Mad....

    I would say go spend a couple weeks with a Dairy Farmer first - perhaps pick the two weeks over christmas where you will be up and out twice a day, every day, you will probably have to deal with an emergency when everything is shut. Oh then try not spending any money for a few months, as you will need to get used to seriously diminished bank account. Then perhaps go out on a cold day and lye down in a cow yard for 25 mins just to get the experience of being cold mucky and wet. If you enjoy all of this then you stand a small chance on making it! Most of your success failure will however be out of your control! Trust me!!!!

  3. #33
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    I have copied and pasted this from a article in todays farmers weekly. serious stuff and they are lucky that as a new venture can lay their hands on a extra 100k. my heart goes out to them and i hope they get through it.

    One newly established Shropshire dairy unit is predicting additional costs of 100,000 through extra feed requirements as grass growth is hammered by the rain and cold.
    "We ran out of forage three weeks ago so we've been buying-in left, right and centre trying to feed 1,200 cattle," explained James Thompson, estate manager for Sansaw Estate which began calving 1,020 heifers onto the New Zealand style grass based system this Spring.

  4. #34
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    I am not a dairy person but having been to my girlfriends farm and seen robots I cannot see how they cannot be the future. If you can match the cost then I would think it is a less than mad idea.

    Since putting in a new building with Robots they have not had to replace the retiring herdsman, can spend more time 'looking after the cows and the figures' and are no longer tied to the place. After a drop while the cows got used to it, the yields have now made a significant increase.

  5. #35
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    That's only 100 per cow though, so hardly make or break. Hardly pays for more than two big bales of silage each. Might impress some with their big figures but keep it in perspective. If they had said it cost them an extra MILLION, then I'd sit up and be a bit alarmed.
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  6. #36
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    That's only 100 per cow though, so hardly make or break. Hardly pays for more than two big bales of silage each. Might impress some with their big figures but keep it in perspective. If they had said it cost them an extra MILLION, then I'd sit up and be a bit alarmed.
    Agree.

    A robot will never determine the success of a unit or otherwise. Seriously. It is just a machine. The fact is automates the milking process is largely an irrelevance. From what I can see, a robot cannot and will not make a mediocre unit into a well performing one.

    The only factor which can alter this is the mindset of the farmer. The fact is that many robot farmers are very switched on and keen on the job and looking at ways to improve or change all the time. This did not arrive with the robot. They had it already, and they have it no matter how their cows are milked.

  7. #37
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    They have been busily telling everyone what an amazing system they have..... 100k to them is peanuts from what Ive heard, its only 80/cow anyone feeding 2t of cake with prices up 40/t has spent that this winter.

  8. #38
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Einstien View Post
    YES you are Mad....

    I would say go spend a couple weeks with a Dairy Farmer first - perhaps pick the two weeks over christmas where you will be up and out twice a day, every day, you will probably have to deal with an emergency when everything is shut. Oh then try not spending any money for a few months, as you will need to get used to seriously diminished bank account. Then perhaps go out on a cold day and lye down in a cow yard for 25 mins just to get the experience of being cold mucky and wet. If you enjoy all of this then you stand a small chance on making it! Most of your success failure will however be out of your control! Trust me!!!!
    You didn't read post 26 then ?

  9. #39
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Enry View Post
    They have been busily telling everyone what an amazing system they have..... 100k to them is peanuts from what Ive heard, its only 80/cow anyone feeding 2t of cake with prices up 40/t has spent that this winter.
    Exactly. What I said in answer to post 33 above, although it is probably on top of other increased costs.
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  10. #40

    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    Keep cost down? What kind of system do you intend to operate?
    A simple forage based system. I know that a lot of costs are out of our control but at least the costs are less than high yielding Holsteins

  11. #41
    Senior Member Cowabunga's Avatar
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Many will no longer sign spring calving herds up. So your buyer options will be limited and your milk price penalised.

    All I'm saying is that you should do your local homework first.
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thick Farmer View Post
    I milked cows until 2004 when Dad decided he'd had enough of it. I've been running a beef and cereal unit ever since, but the weather of late isn't conducive to cereal production in this area!
    Were you too young at that time to carry on milking on your own? If your going to spend a lot of money then you should think long and hard about. A friend of mine had the chance to take over his fathers cows 5 years ago but didnt. He then decided to start up again with 40 jerseys last august and has just sold the whole thing again about a month ago. He hadnt spent a lot of money (second hand parlour and bulk tank) but said he (or maybe wife) got fed up with being tied to the milking. Having said that 160 acres would be a great starting platform for which ever system you prefer, personally i'd start with 60 cows on one robot then step up to two robots in a couple of years when you get going properly. Then again i might be biased.

  13. #43
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    Many will no longer sign spring calving herds up. So your buyer options will be limited and your milk price penalised.

    All I'm saying is that you should do your local homework first.
    So you're saying that the golden bowl of the NZ style system, milk from grass etc is essentially unwanted by the secondary industry?

  14. #44
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    So you're saying that the golden bowl of the NZ style system, milk from grass etc is essentially unwanted by the secondary industry?
    As quite a few of us have posted on here previously, in response to those that advocate any other system than the NZ model is mad, the principle UK market is for liquid milk. That requires a steady, balanced supply, year round. If everyone went Spring calving, then the liquid market would be buggered.

  15. #45
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    So you're saying that the golden bowl of the NZ style system, milk from grass etc is essentially unwanted by the secondary industry?
    Why else do you think they have seasonality payments? They discourage Spring milk as much as they dare while encouraging Autumn and Winter milk. Many milk brokers and processors will not now sign up more Spring calving herds as their other suppliers effectively subsidise them even after seasonality in four years out of five. This year will probably be one of the two exceptions per decade due to lower overall production and a lower Spring peak.
    Last edited by Cowabunga; 17-04-13 at 02:51 PM. Reason: removal of spurious word
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by happycows View Post
    I have copied and pasted this from a article in todays farmers weekly. serious stuff and they are lucky that as a new venture can lay their hands on a extra 100k. my heart goes out to them and i hope they get through it.

    One newly established Shropshire dairy unit is predicting additional costs of 100,000 through extra feed requirements as grass growth is hammered by the rain and cold.
    "We ran out of forage three weeks ago so we've been buying-in left, right and centre trying to feed 1,200 cattle," explained James Thompson, estate manager for Sansaw Estate which began calving 1,020 heifers onto the New Zealand style grass based system this Spring.
    New Zealand systems work great, in NZ! More often than not their biggest problem is getting water onto the fields, not getting it off. Very few paddocks have bad gateways within a meter or so into the field and the rate of growth is fantastic. Calves are born into nice, warm spring weather, not the crap we have this year here. Having experienced both the NZ grazing system does not seem to work here, we are lot further from the equator and therefore have totally different weather. Our market is also different - they rely on solids and near as damm it close the milk factories before calving because there is so little milk produced when all the cows are dry.

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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogerm View Post
    You didn't read post 26 then ?
    I did - but as with a lot of Dairy Farmers the acutal work is largely being done by family members (Hence it was strange to read "I milked cows until Dad wanted to Give up" Re read that... It suggests that "Dad" actually milked cows... and that my advice still stands LoL

  18. #48

    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Condi View Post
    New Zealand systems work great, in NZ! More often than not their biggest problem is getting water onto the fields, not getting it off. Very few paddocks have bad gateways within a meter or so into the field and the rate of growth is fantastic. Calves are born into nice, warm spring weather, not the crap we have this year here. Having experienced both the NZ grazing system does not seem to work here, we are lot further from the equator and therefore have totally different weather. Our market is also different - they rely on solids and near as damm it close the milk factories before calving because there is so little milk produced when all the cows are dry.
    Every farm in every country is different, but all rely somewhere upto 100% on pasture depending on local conditions. But in the case being discussed, which is a land-use change the question should be asked; which pastoral land-use will give the best profit per kilo of pasture DM grown?
    Unfortunately in NZ where dairying is possible sheep don't have a look in. Beef sucklers even worse. Only dairy grazing (spring/summer rearing of young stock and wintering of mature herd) are anywhere competitive.
    Currently high production sheep have a profit of around 63% of dairying per kilo of DM grown. No dedicated sheep man can defend his land-use in NZ on this basis.

    In answering the "Am I mad" question also ask yourself if you have the three ingredients for business success;
    Have you got passion for the industry you are considering? That keeps you going and inovating when times get tough, and they will.
    Have you got access to capital? Every change is capital hungry.
    Have you done your appenticeship in the new industry? If you haven't forget until you have.

  19. #49
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    Agree.

    A robot will never determine the success of a unit or otherwise. Seriously. It is just a machine. The fact is automates the milking process is largely an irrelevance. From what I can see, a robot cannot and will not make a mediocre unit into a well performing one.

    The only factor which can alter this is the mindset of the farmer. The fact is that many robot farmers are very switched on and keen on the job and looking at ways to improve or change all the time. This did not arrive with the robot. They had it already, and they have it no matter how their cows are milked.
    But that is the one of the keys to a robotic system - it takes out the mundane/routine of parlour based systems & allows you to spend more time on cow health/fertility rather than clock watching. Often the farm offices are in the cow house, usually perched high up overlooking the herd so an eye can be kept on them whilst filling in paperwork

  20. #50
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Personally I wouldn't go back into production. The milk market is not settling down in my opinion and there are a fair few disgruntled dairy farmers around for various reasons. There are many other places to invest the money that will give less risk and probably better returns in the near future until the whole dairy industry works out exactly what's what (if they ever do!).

    On the other hand if you've got a stack of money with no home because you are already drawing a decent income from elsewhere and want something to keep you busy then go for it.

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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by milkloss View Post
    Personally I wouldn't go back into production. The milk market is not settling down in my opinion and there are a fair few disgruntled dairy farmers around for various reasons. There are many other places to invest the money that will give less risk and probably better returns in the near future until the whole dairy industry works out exactly what's what (if they ever do!).

    On the other hand if you've got a stack of money with no home because you are already drawing a decent income from elsewhere and want something to keep you busy then go for it.
    +1

  22. #52

    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Why does a forage based system have to calve in the spring?

    Autumn calve, feed as little or as much as you like whilst making the most of high quality silage. Turn them out in the spring (hopefully in calf) and do as the spring calvers do ad make milk from grass.

  23. #53
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    It doesn't. You are confusing a forage based system with a NZ style ultra low cost system where minimal forage is made and concentrates fed. In the NZ style system, grazing is typically extended so that very little forage is made while stocking rates are high.

    It does work if the practitioners have suitable mild climate and free draining land along freisian type cattle that tend to retain condition and get back in calf easily rather then milk regardless.

    This year it is pitiful to see some of these herds with recently calved cows out with hardly anything to eat. They are like coat-hangers. Two herds I have seen would be classified as welfare issues in my opinion. The owners obviously put dogma before their cow's welfare. That opens up a can of worms no doubt.
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    It doesn't. You are confusing a forage based system with a NZ style ultra low cost system where minimal forage is made and concentrates fed. In the NZ style system, grazing is typically extended so that very little forage is made while stocking rates are high.

    It does work if the practitioners have suitable mild climate and free draining land along freisian type cattle that tend to retain condition and get back in calf easily rather then milk regardless.

    This year it is pitiful to see some of these herds with recently calved cows out with hardly anything to eat. They are like coat-hangers. Two herds I have seen would be classified as welfare issues in my opinion. The owners obviously put dogma before their cow's welfare. That opens up a can of worms no doubt.

    Dont think HC is confusing anything, he seems to be simply posing the question " why does a forage based system have to calve in the spring?". I think it was you that assumed he meant spring calving.
    I dare say that the 2 herds you have seen are managing their grass brilliantly and that is their focus not the cows. Its wrong of course to treat cows like this but they are probably not able to see this as they are stuck in a bit of a rut. In my view a system with flexibility is important and I am not sure ultra low cost spring calvers have this

  25. #55
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    my bank manger who oversees alot of dairy accounts says it is the convenale boys who are going over there ageed limits ,a lot since easter

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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by henman View Post
    my bank manger who oversees alot of dairy accounts says it is the convenale boys who are going over there ageed limits ,a lot since easter
    Do you mean conventional or is this me being dumb and a kind of farmer I've not heard of?
    Last edited by miketm150; 17-04-13 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Grammar

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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    As was said earlier your first thoughts should be who wants my milk and how much are they going to pay for it.There is no point producing a product that you cant sell.Its up to you if you want a grazing system or a more intensive dairy,its what interests you that matters.
    if you are keen to graze cows you can make it work very well the same with intensive.You must have the enthusiasm for your system to make it work.

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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bald Rick View Post
    But that is the one of the keys to a robotic system - it takes out the mundane/routine of parlour based systems & allows you to spend more time on cow health/fertility rather than clock watching. Often the farm offices are in the cow house, usually perched high up overlooking the herd so an eye can be kept on them whilst filling in paperwork
    I take your point. My point was that buying a robot will not guarantee a crap farmer immediately becomes successful. A great many robot farmers were/are very good at what they did long before the robot(s) arrived.

    A robot merely extracts milk. Just like a combine is used to cut corn. But it doesn't drill, cultivate or grow the stuff.

  29. #59

    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by andrew830 View Post
    .Its up to you if you want a grazing system or a more intensive dairy,its what interests you that matters.
    if you are keen to graze cows you can make it work very well the same with intensive.You must have the enthusiasm for your system to make it work.
    Very well put. Dairy farming will not make you rich nor will it be easy but it's more than a job. It's a lifestyle choice. If you've got the drive and determination to make it work then that's half the battle.

  30. #60
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    Re: Considering going into milk production. Am I mad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Headless chicken View Post
    Very well put. Dairy farming will not make you rich nor will it be easy but it's more than a job. It's a lifestyle choice. If you've got the drive and determination to make it work then that's half the battle.

    That made me laugh out loud! You are right of course, it is a lifestyle choice. And what a lifestyle choice it is!
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