Livestock farming, where did the money go?

Jim Webster

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A young farmer was talking to me. An old chap had told him that when they wanted to buy a new tractor they sold three new calved dairy heifers. The young farmer wanted to know if this was true.

The answer is, yes, it’s true. Admittedly his informant bred damned good cows, and the rest of us might have had to sell four heifers, but still. The problem for the young chap was that to buy an equivalent tractor he’d have to sell between fifteen and twenty dairy heifers. The reason is that tractor prices are linked to the general economy, dairy heifer prices are linked to the price of milk.

In agriculture we’re regularly told that we cannot rely on handouts from the state, we have to become more efficient. So I decided to explore the roots of our industry’s inefficiency.

Looking at milk first, because that’s what I…

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