Processors, Retailers and Co-ops buy milk from Dairy Farms: many have quality assurance schemes that are intended to support farmers, consumers and their own businesses. The reality is that pleasing everyone is often very challenging. Farmers need a profitable business and aim for optimum health and productivity from the animals in their care. Buyers need to ensure milk quality and a consistent supply and the consumers’ opinions are always important to everyone. However, the latter is often a subject that is frequently changeable. So building strategies that cover everyone’s needs requires skilled and experienced advisor teams, with veterinary science at its heart.
The beginning of this value chain lies with the cow herself: She must be in a consistent environment: changes in feed, routine and daily management have a great impact on health and performance. When designing assurance schemes, expert veterinary advice is critical to ensure a low disease risk while optimising reproductive potential. Too often, policies can focus on parameters that have good intentions but lack enough delivery on profitability. Increasing longevity of cows in the herd is a good example of this: a policy that pushes culling rates down can risk the delay of better genetics entering the herd and increase disease risks unless understanding the value of heifers’ lactation persistency is brought into the discussion.
Lowering disease risks, Optimising reproduction and dealing with heat stressors can greatly increase the consistency of supply for the milk buyer. In the same way, milk quality is also linked to these factors, emphasising the importance of veterinary advice. Understanding the marginal milk value (the value of milk beyond her maintenance and feed costs) can help conversations between milk buyers and producers: especially when dealing with the uncomfortable news of reducing milk prices. Good veterinary consultancy can help to provide answers to challenging times.
Media and Consumers
Consumers and social media can drive policies and short term management wants from retailers and co-ops. Antimicrobial reduction, organic milk, “factory farming” and other issues all need quick and scientifically structured replies from the suppliers. Once again, veterinary scientific advice from an expert can make or break a brand or company name in this fickle media world.
Fortunately, INSPIRE CATTLE SOLUTIONS have extensive experience in all of these areas and have produced visible value from each of these steps in terms of milk volume and profitability in supply.