The future of the dairy sector

I Recently read a dairy sector Report on future farming, I am trying to understand future trends and where it will take the industry .

Over the last 25 years dairy farming has been taken to another level with a shift to intensive farming that really started in the Second World War. This effort for cheap food led to animal welfare issues related to widespread acceptance of confinement systems, genetic selection for growth rate and yield,  . In the twenty five years, a recent historical report has found significant changes in the number of animals farmed and the structure of the industry. There has been growth in the dairy sector per farm, however a decline in the red meat sector, and plateau across all agricultural sectors. Breeding for increased growth rate and yield has continued apace with fewer cows, more milk, with associated health and welfare issues.

Milk quotas were introduced within the European Union to alleviate restrictions on EEC milk output and were introduced in response to the problem of surpluses and their budgetary consequences.

The action of the scheme has had wide-ranging effects on agricultural patterns and markets and on linked activities, but must also be seen in the context of world trade in dairy products.

Pressure on the dairy sector to placate continuing societal demands for cheap food will be worsened by a range of economic, social and environmental factors.

There seems to be a focus and a large shift away from farming systems and input standards towards also measuring and seeking to improve welfare outcomes for the animals. This trend is expected to continue and accelerate. The development and adoption of outcomes-based approaches to welfare is likely to be supported by the development of new automated technologies for assessing animal health and wellbeing.

The legal recognition of animals as sensitive beings in the EU in 1997 was a major victory for animal welfare and established a foundation on which future animal protection legislation could be built. Another landmark moment was the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which overhauled animal welfare legislation in the UK and introduced a ‘duty of care’; making owners and keepers responsible for ensuring the welfare needs of their animals are met.

The generally-quoted aims for mastitis control and milk quality on UK dairy farms are:

Mastitis incidence rate of no more than 30 cases per 100 cows per year.

Mastitis persistence rate of no more than 20% of the herd affected per year.

Mastitis re-occurrence rate of less than 10% of the total number of cases.

Herd-average Somatic Cell Count below 150,000 cells/ml.

An average Bactoscan result of below 5,000.

We don’t live in a sterile world bacterial growth is the new buzz word and the dairy sector needs to prepare and control this increase in bacteria.

Latest studies are showing environmental pathogens are on the increase as controlling contagious mastitis is in decline.

Set goals

Train staff

Make staff aware why they are undertaking these actions.

A positive and less stressful environment is essential .