2 min read

When to quit dairy farming....

When to quit dairy farming....

Before I get the 'Dairy Farmers Appreciation Society' on my case (don't worry, they don't exist), I should say that this story is based on our personal experience.

Whilst it isn't necessarily reflective of dairy farms around the country, it has struck a chord with more people than I initially thought.

Key Factors

We sold the dairy on our farm in 2009 after 90 years of milking Ayrshire cows. The dairy was a huge part of the business and the cows were my Dad's biggest passion.

But like so many around the country, we just couldn't make it pay.

Following years of declining milk prices, the incredibly difficult decision was taken to sell up. This was based largely on the following 3 factors:

  • Falling milk prices - the 10 years leading up to 2009 had seen a gradual decline in milk prices which were, by then, hovering just above the cost of production. On top of this, there was little sign of them improving
  • Ageing infrastructure - our parlour was over 30 years old and needed a huge investment to get the infrastructure up to a modern standard. We just couldn't see a return on that investment
  • Lack of Succession - I have 2 sisters and by 2009 we had all left the farm to pursue other interests and so there was no one in line with the passion and drive to take on this element of the business

Coupled with this, the industry trend (which continues to this day) was "go big or go home". In order to survive, dairy farms were (and still are!) getting larger using scale and efficiencies to drive profits.

We just couldn't compete.

The right decision?

As you can see from above, it was a business driven decision, looking at the stark realities in the cold light of day.

There will be many that disagree, claiming that you can still make a good living out of dairy farming and whilst their not wrong, it's becoming harder.

So what replaced the dairy on our farm and ultimately, was it the right decision?

Well, you'll have to watch the video above to find out!

Until next week....