WHAT factors drive a highly resilient, successful dairy farm business? That question will be the focus of the next meeting of Scotland’s Strategic Dairy Farm, scheduled for January 30, in Symington, near Biggar, Lanarkshire.

Host farmer, William Baillie, will share how his business has become more resilient by looking closely at his costings and benchmarking with other farms, while senior consultant Tony Evans will delve into areas of Mr Baillie’s operation to identify areas for further refinement. AHDB market analyst, Patty Clayton, will be on hand to discuss the current dairy market in Scotland and the UK, and the importance of business agility in line with change.

AHDB knowledge exchange manager Chris Stockwell explained: “These are challenging times for the dairy industry and dairy farming businesses must be resilient and open to change by adopting new methods to respond positively and rapidly to changing market conditions.

“We estimate that more than 70% of the financial difference between top and bottom quartile farms is due to decisions made by the farmer so it is important to look at the changes being made on farm and share this learning with others.”

Mr Bailie said: “To become more business resilient we keep a close eye on our figures and do a lot of costings and benchmarking to compare our farm business against other farms so we can see where we are underperforming. Feed cost, machinery and labour are our biggest costs, so we are focusing on these fixed costs to identify ways to drive those down.

“We’ve realised that we have spent a lot on machinery and machinery repairs over the last few years’, so we are looking closely at the actual cost of running the machines and what it’s costing to repair them," he said. "This will allow us to work out if it would be cheaper to replace them.”

Strategic dairy farms aim to help farmers learn from each other through regular on-farm meetings where key performance data is shared to showcase what the top performing farmers are doing. They form part of AHDB’s Optimal Dairy Systems programme to help dairy farmers lower costs and increase efficiency by focusing on either a block or all year-round calving system. As Willie’s farm is part this programme, the event will also review how Hillhead of Covington compares to its key performance indicators (KPIs) for AYR calving herds.

The event will be held at the Tinto Hotel, 44 Biggar Road, Symington, Lanarkshire, ML12 6FT from 10.45 am to 2pm, with lunch included.

To book a place contact the AHDB KE Events Hub on 01904 771216 or ke.events@ahdb.org.uk or for more information contact Chris Stockwell on 07775 884831.