Operations

Each year we prepare a detailed budget covering operations, such as expected cows in milk, yields and feed demand, and the financials derived therefrom:  revenue and costs.

Budget for 2018/19 operations

Livestock - For the year we are budgeting on the following for the end of the year (the previous years are actuals):

  2014/15 2015/16   2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Cows in the herd 261 233   250 260 260
Cows in milk 245 216   228 240 240
Heifers in calf 56 49   56 37 45
Bulling heifers 23 27   26 17 16
Other heifers 131 128   98 127 123
Beef youngstock 6 0   5 0 16
Total 477 440   430 441 460
Cows in the herd as % of total 55% 53%   58% 59% 57%

 

As shown in the table above, we are forecasting a herd of 260 cows by the end of 2018/19 with an average 240 cows being milked per day, each producing again on average 32 litres (or 10,575 litres per year).

Our budgeted herd of 260 compares with the national average in the calendar year 2016 of 143 for the UK as a whole and 148 in England.

Our annual yield per cow, forecasted to be 11,600 litres, is above the average yield per cow nationwide, which in 2017/8 was 9,883 litres.  This increase reflects the fact that we went to three times milking a day in April 2018. 

Through the year we are assuming that around 1.5% of our cows in millk will be either fresh cows or cows with mastitis and this kept out of the milks sales chain.  This is well below the national average and something we are proud of.

For 2018/19 we are forecasting 248 calves being born, 193 coming from cows and 55 from heifers.  We continue to assume that half of the calves will be girls and half being boys, although recently we have been seeing more heifers born than boys.

As we operate under a closed herd policy, we do not buy in any animals.  This allows us to improve our biosecurity on the farm, an important aim.

We will sell our beef calves to the market.  Again, because we are a closed herd, the buyers can appreciate that the quality of our animals is high.  As our reputation grows over time we hope this will lead to higher prices being obtained.  We will also sell cows that are getting old.  They may be sold to other farms or to the abattoirs.  We are budgeting the sale of 63 cows under a planned cull programme.  We will also see the forced culling or death of perhaps 5 cows in the year due to illness.

Milk production - We are budgeting production of 3.154 million litres (8,570 litres per day) for the year.

Food - We expect to use the following amounts of food at a total cost of £408,000:

Concentrates & Minerals 918 dry tonnes £266,000

Bulk food

2,203 dry tonnes

£150,000

Bedding - We expect to use the following amount of bedding over 2013/14 at a total cost of £38,000:

Straw 176 tonnes £10,000
Sand 1,800 tonnes £35,000

LabourWe have six dairy and arable staff.  Creating a team in dairy has proven to be hard.  Sadly, most British people do not want to work in such a business or, if they do, do not appreciate the hard work that is required.  We try to keep the use of contractor staff to a minimum.

Estate management - We have invested heavily in improving the drainage of our fields.  This work continues as does our work on improving the woodlands.  What has been noticeable over the 20 years that we have owned the estate is how the wildlife has improved.  This is good news.

Capital projects - Since we bought Henden in 1997 we have refurbished all of the staff houses, converted the original milking parlour into an office complex, bought some 64 acres of land, some of which used to belong to the estate in the 1970s, and then in the period 2010 to 2012 redeveloped much of our cow barns.  Along the way we have also upgraded our milking parlour and computer management systems.  Most recently we have improved still further our slurry handling systems and installed huge fans in the barns, which give our cows comfort during hot and humid conditions.

Inevitably more work needs to be done.  Half of our barns are relatively old and will need replacing in due course.  Ideally, we would replace them within five years, but the current economics of farming and the scale of investment required, probably close to £1 million, means this investment will be deferred.

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