FUW Vice President hosts first milk road show
A road show was hosted by Farmers’ Union of Wales vice president Brian Walters at his Carmarthenshire dairy farm to raise awareness of Johne’s disease and discuss recent developments in the dairy industry.
Over 100 farmers attended the event at Esgairhir Uchaf, near Carmarthen, where they received an update on the dairy industry by First Milk chairman Bill Mustoe and had the opportunity to speak to Julie Forrest, a lecturer at Edinburgh University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, about Johne’s disease.
“There is an imbalance in the dairy market with demand being two per cent and supply going at three per cent, which causes world market prices to fall,” said Mr Mustoe.
“In order to deal with the imbalance in the liquid market we have over the last year taken a number of steps to create an added value food business. Our acquisition of CNP Professional last month is a prime example and demonstrates the direction we are going.
“The sports nutrition market has more than doubled in the last five years, with this strong growth predicted to be maintained over the next five years.
“The First Milk you see before you is not only better shaped to drive members returns, but equally important, is well positioned to further develop your business,” added Mr Mustoe.
Esgairhir Uchaf farm is run by Mr Walters, his wife Anne and their two sons Simon and Aled. Together with their home farm Clunmelyn, the farms stand at 400 acres with an additional 100 acres rented. Clunmelyn farm is used to rear the young stock and heifers with the milking being carried out at Esgairhir Uchaf.
The Walters family now farm 210 Friesian and Holstein cattle, all of which are autumn calving. They aim to produce as much milk from grass and focus on making good quality silage. The farm makes all its own silage and the family try to do as much of the field and machinery work as they can.
“First Milk has moved away from being a broker of milk to being a substantial processor in the UK market and can therefore return profits to its members,” said Mr Walters.
“It is also good to see that they are now also processing around 50 per cent of members milk. There is a huge opportunity for farmers in the dairy industry. With innovation and creativity we can ensure that the imbalance in market prices can be addressed.
“We may not be able to generate adequate profit from the general commodity market but with new investments into for example sports nutrition we can try and re-establish balance.
“We are already supplying Team GB with nutritional supplements in their training and for the Olympics and it is great to see that the sports nutrition market is now also being targeted at a less professional level.
“It is vital that we keep business in the UK and support our dairy industry. In that respect it was important that we addressed issues such as Johne’s disease in dairy herds here at the road show.
“Clinical signs of Johne's disease are not specific to Johne's and include rapid weight loss and diarrhoea which can lead to cattle being culled for other reasons such as infertility or lameness.
“One thing is certain, if there is an underlying Johne’s problem in your herd, it will reduce the life time productivity and health of your herd ,” added Mr Walters.
“It was a fantastic event and excellent to see so many farmers attending. The Walters family have done a great job in hosting this event and are an excellent example of a progressive family dairy farm,” said FUW president Emyr Jones.
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