Collaboration is key to a stable dairy industry
As the dairy industry changes, we need to ensure we deliver value to farmers. James White, Dairy Collaboration Manager GB, argues that this will only happen if everyone in the supply chain works to their mutual advantage.

The traditional route to market for products and services has been either through the vet or direct to farmers. But the traditional route is no more. More and more dairy farms are moving to ‘aligned contracts’, under which farmers sell their milk to a supermarket retailer at an agreed price through a third party.

Farmers are paid a premium price for their milk, with the retailer guaranteeing to pay above the average cost of production, offering the dairy farmer much-needed security in a fluctuating market. But to meet consumer expectations – clean milk and a priority on animal welfare – supermarkets are also increasing the expectations placed on farmers on these aligned contracts.

The need for dairy farmers to maximise milk production is obvious, but it’s also essential to make sure we have a stable and sustainable supply of milk. Forming working partnerships between every cog in this machine is vital to help achieve this stability. In this spirit, Elanco has worked extensively with vets and farmers to ensure the dairy cow transition period or “Vital 90 Days” (the 60 days prior and 30 days post calving) is a successful one.

There a range of benefits to a successful transition period – not least the welfare and production benefits of fewer sick cows. Furthermore, implementing a preventative approach to herd health, and the use of innovative products, has helped to reduce post-calving disease.

The knock-on effect of this is a reduced need for antibiotics, meaning less disruption to the supply of milk. Stability is good for the entire dairy industry, with everyone in the supply chain set to benefit – including the consumer. It’s up to us all to make sure we work in partnership, and not in isolation, to achieve that stability.

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