Grass to cash at low cost is a winning formula for dairy farmers – Positive Farmers Conference

Farmers who focused on producing high milk solids from grass remained profitable in 2015, according to Michael Murphy, one of the organisers of the Positive Farmers Conference.

Murphy said that the Positive Farmers philosophy of grass to cash at low cost provided to be a winning formula during a period when milk price dropped by over 30%.

This year’s Positive Farmers Conference will take place in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Co. Cork on January 13 and 14.

According to Murphy, this philosophy will become more important in the coming years as volatility in dairy prices looks set to stay.

“If you look back over the previous nine years, there has been three milk price drops. Farmers who do not make the best use of grass will struggle in years like these.

Dairy farmers operating a grass-based system should focus on feeding there dairy cows a diet consisting of 70-75% grazed grass.

Farmers who fail to achieve this level may come under financial pressure during poor milk price years, he said.

“It doesn’t really matter what dairy farmers do when milk prices are very high, but we are likely to see price dips every two to three years into the future.

“This could create a situation where dairy farmers build high levels of debt while also operating at high-cost levels and this will be toxic for dairy farming businesses.”

Murphy also said that approximately 90% of dairy farmers in New Zealand face the prospect on making a loss in 2015 while only 10% of farmers are staying in a profitable position.

This year’s Positive Farmers Conference will try to ensure that farmers return home following the conference with ideas that they can implement on their farm.

The conference attracts speakers and participants from all over the world, especially Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and Europe.

He said the conference has maintained a clear focus on grass-based dairy farming as the foundation for better farming, better business and better living for farm families.

Key topics covered at this year’s Positive Farmers Conference:
  • Milk price outlook for 2016, 2017 and onwards
  • Getting started in farming
  • Importance of effective budgeting and excellent planning
  • Strategies for the future, both in herd breeding and the use of clover
  • Calf rearing and disease management of calves and young stock when expanding
  • Managing the dairy business during a period of low milk price
  • Grass-based dairy at full throttle