Brexit, TB and winter feeding were among the topics that featured at UK Dairy Day as it returned to Telford International Centre.
It has been a challenging time for dairy farmers who have been working hard to feed animals following this summer’s heatwave. Many have also seen milk yields drop by 20 per cent.
A shortage of forage for dairy farmers this summer has also forced them to break into winter fodder supplies.
Despite overwhelmingly being in support of leaving the EU, many farmers are concerned with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
UK Dairy Day is is now in its fifth year having launched in 2014 and it is organised by Holstein UK.
Yesterday’s event brought together all facets of the dairy industry; farmers, students, breeders, geneticists, vets, feed merchants, dairy equipment suppliers and milk buyers – plus professional service providers, charities, and colleges.
Rebecca Barningham, one of the organisers, said: "The feedback from dairy farmers was that there needed to be an event. They said there was a gap in the autumn which needed filling.
"We looked at various locations and thought Shropshire was ideal as it is a very strong county for producing milk. Once we found this venue we haven’t looked back since and there are no plans to move the event.
"It is a tough industry so that is why we wanted to make it free to attend and we have got some fantastic sponsors which enables us to do that.
"The event had just grown and grown. We were expecting 8,000 people here today but we think we will be up on that.”
The event featured more than 300 trade stands across internal and external exhibition areas.
There was also the chance for farmers to learn about new products, services and technologies on the market to enhance their dairy business performance and efficiency.
An array of practical demonstrations took place throughout the day in the external area. The breed village featured type classification and linear scoring demonstrations and in the external trade stand area there was foot trimming, blocking and knife sharpening demonstrations.
Organisers also welcomed the National Brown Swiss Show, which, for the first time, hosted its national show at the event.
Farmers should ‘consider alternative crops’
Farmers need to ‘look outside the box’ in challenging times.
That was the message from Adam Clay, of national feed supplier NWF Agriculture, who gave a talk at yesterday’s UK Dairy Day.
During the seminar, Mr Clay gave advice on how farmers can feed their cows this winter with low forage available due to this year’s extreme weather.
He said: "In July, everyone was desperate for forage stocks. The situation may have changed slightly now as the wet weather has finally arrived. In our customer base, forage levels to see them through the winter vary a lot. In the first quarter of the year it was very wet.
"The ‘Beast from the East’ then came along and caused us all manner of difficulties. Through the first quarter we just didn’t get anything and had a lot of winter kill as well so we lost volume on paddocks. July happened and we were down 35 per cent on rainfall and 15 per cent up on temperatures. We had that delay in early season growth, which is vital to enable us to grow our platform from a grazing perspective. We ended up with a tough period.”
The weather has resulted in a shortage of grazing, so many farmers have had to buffer feed. "In times of panic we have just got to look outside the box and look at what other options we have got,” Mr Clay added.
"We can take some pressure off the milking platform perhaps. We should consider some alternative crops. Swedes, kale and turnips have been going quite well in this country. The yields off these are respectable. If we are in a low foraging environment we need to be looking at sourcing alternative forages.”
Rebecca Barningham, one of the organisers of yesterday’s event, said: "The weather has been tough but unfortunately it is not something we can control.”