Saturday, 16 February 2013

Low Cost Production, Milk Marketing Board 1962

Low Cost Production, Milk Marketing Board 1962

So all in all you reap what you sow, you cannot keep robbing the producer, in this case the cow.

It started when I joined a Milk Marketing Board scheme called ‘Low Cost Production’. November 1962. Much to my disgust I seemed to always be in the lower quarter of the chart / league table.

You take up on all the latest ideas, when ya young and think you can improve even on them. But as time and experience will learn you, let someone else try them out (new ideas), and if they are still good ideas a few years later that’s the time to take them up. Some expensive mistakes have been made over the years, when caution would have been the prudent thing to do.

Over stocking is one of them, it started when I joined a Milk Marketing Board scheme called ‘Low Cost Production’. The co-ordinator called every month to up date all the figures and the different margins, from cost per gallon over bought in feed, production from home grown feeds, and labour costs. These were all logged into a chart with about twenty two other participating farms with the best performing ones at the top and those with lowest margins at the bottom. Of coarse each farm/farmer was incognito and you could only identify your own farm by a code number issued by the co-ordinator.

Much to my disgust I seemed to always be in the lower quarter of the chart, and so there was great incentive to get nearer to the top. More fertilizer was bought, the cows were strip grazed rigidly with a back fence the nitrogen was applied for the re-growth, and a little later in the scheme we were encouraged to lay it all out in twenty one paddocks, one paddock a day and again fertilized after grazing. This all went on for just over four years, the cows numbers increased, stock feed potatoes and carrots were fed to supplement the winter feed, and we mixed our own dairy corn from a recommended ration compounded up from straights and costed out

It was made up of

Home grown rolled barley
Sugar beet pulp
Flaked maize
Sweetened palm kernel
Soya bean meal
Fish meal
Groundnut flakes
And Minerals
The barley was put through the roller and it dropped directly onto the barn floor,
The other ingredient were weighed up in the loft and tipped through a convenient hole in the floor. The pile was then mixed by hand with a huge shovel turning it three times
The cost worked out at £19- 7s- 6d per ton as against a propriety dairy cake of between £60 & £70 pound a ton.
All calculations were done literally by hand, it was before calculators came out and the co-ordinator added subtracted, divided, and multiplied everything on a slide rule.

Low Cost Production, Milk Marketing Board 1962

 The chart above is the original or should I say the initial one filled in by Mr Woodriffe our co-ordinator/ adviser, and it was November 1962 almost fifty years ago.

I may be wrong but going on the figures above my mixture comes out at just below £20 a ton and the Diary Cake at the top come out at over £60 a ton, not quite right me thinks. If any keen costing students or older 'pharts' like me can get it any different please let me know. I have all the invoices for the soya, fishmeal, groundnut etc. so I could check that for prices

There is an average line at the bottom that would not scan, and lined up should read
13.4 / 9.94 / 6.98 / 0.64 / 17.56 / 5.46 / 64 / 49 / 2.12 / 3.03 / 9.07 / 0.61
This is the matching resultant chart that we got back at the end of the month, that is my line third line from the bottom of the table, code /159. Margin per gallon 9.85, and 39 in herd, 35 in milk.

This was the only time I managed to top my group April 1964 see code /159. We had turned the cows out onto some early grass; all the cows were in milk. It was only through the summer months that I could compete on the league table. Eventually I found out that some of the top ones in the winter had larger acreages of stubbles and sugar beet fields to range over and young stock away on another area of land, giving them an unfair advantage over me stuck tightly on 96 acres with quite a few young stock and follower.
By the report from the MMB and the farming press it was a great success, for me we raised our output and margins, but ended up with a whole herd of very thin cows, some almost skeletons. Another aspect was to calve the heifers down at two years old, some of which had not attained the required growth to reach a reasonable lactation.

The calving index was another thing that was important in these calculations, our was around 370 day calving when we started, and as the cows got into a lower and lower state so this rose to around the 400day mark.

So all in all you reap what you sow, you cannot keep robbing the producer, in this case the cow, and occasionally in life its better to back off a little, work under a bit less pressure, the cows and yourself are a lot fitter, you may not have made your fortune, there is always someone in life who does thing better than you ( or claim to), and that has never changed all my life.

The Cow Chain

At one time cows were all tied up, in stalls to milk and feed,
Each one knew its own place, not much room indeed,
When young they didn’t like it, but soon learned where to go,
Twice every day it was for them, walking too and fro.

Out to daytime pastures, to distant fields to graze,
Back again for milking on long fine summer days,
Walk into their own shed, and finding their own stall,
Standing there to be chained, got to chain them all.

Each stall holds a pair of cows, left and right they learn,
Once they know their own side, one word n’ they discern,
“Come over” spoken to them , they know your coming through,
The pair will part, n’ chain them up, n’ stand their cud to chew.

A scoop of corn while milking, then wait till milked the lot,
Loosed off the chains they wander, out to pasture we allot,
Clean the sheds and clean the stalls, till milking comes again,
For to tie them up you always need, good strong shiny chain.

Countryman (Owd Fred)

Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.John Maurice Clarke. Economist