If you’ve had enough of milking cows, get out of the parlour and employ someone better, Robert Craig a dairy farmer from Cumbria told farmers at the recent Positive Farmers Conference.
His advice to those looking to expand and grow their dairy farm is to dream big dreams. Since 2001, when he attended a Business and Strategic planning course, said budgeting and cash flow monitoring are key to growing a business.
Grass growth monitoring, he said, is also necessary. “If it moves, measure it. To improve you must know where you are, otherwise how do you measure success?”
One of the best returns on investment, he has had he said, with the fastest pay back was through lifting the performance of poor paddocks.
He also said that investing in infrastructure was key. “This is an essential part in making the most of your most valuable asset – either land or cows.”
He also said benchmarking is important for dairy farmers and he aims to be in the top 5%.
Robert built his farm up from 160 cows and lambing 300 ewes to milking 200 cows, with regular part-time staff, before increasing the herd again, this time to 380 cows.
Since 2011, he took on a 700acre tenancy as part of a joint venture, with 400 spring calving heifers, where they installed 40/80 herringbone milking parlour.
His advice to growing a dairy enterprise, centred around having balance and direction. “We identified and defined our life goals and then visualized at what was needed to achieve them.
“Never had we linked our expansion plans to our life goals. Align your everyday actions to your overall goal.
“Wealth is not about money. Value your time highly, as once you have choice and control over how you spend it you’re the wealthiest person you know.”
And he’s not finished growing his dairy enterprise. He said he’s constantly looking for opportunities to grow the business.