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Rodney Down: Good news about whole milk, but DairyCo must seize the moment


Ask anybody which has more fat, an egg or whole milk, and you can pretty much guess the answer. But it looks like we have been misled with regards to our fat intake for about the last 30 years.

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Rodney Down, Somerset

Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize. 

A report out this week suggests we should drink whole milk and have a balanced diet of natural foods. So DairyCo seize the moment please. I paid in £1,500 to this organisation and apparently it has a bigger budget than ever this year. Along with the latest Arla ‘Save the Cheese Sandwich’ campaign we could do at least something to help the consumption of dairy.


It is needed as we are producing more fat and protein than ever from our cows. The missing ingredient seems to be sugar beet nuts. We have included these in the ration on top of our normal energy concentrates (wheat) and it seems to have done the trick. Fats are over 4.25 per cent and proteins more than 3.45 per cent. We are a litre per head behind where we would normally be at this time of year but I can live with that.


On the milk marketing front we are still supplying our co-op but are reviewing the situation monthly. Have prices turned the corner? If so, I think it may be a long corner. As a fellow dairy farmer told me, I have been sat on the fence for so long it must be getting painful with the risk of a splinter.


I am sure the whole issue will slip to the back of my mind with the spring workload fast approaching. Our soil is surpisingly wet, stopping the last of the black-grass sprays and early nitrogen on second wheats. This year will see us move to liquid fertiliser so I anticipate quite a few hours sat on the sprayer. Logistically we should be better off with someone running with a spray bowser thus not tying up a loader tractor which is always busy feeding.


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