The milking times

The global price of cereals has shot up and we’re changing afternoon milking time to 3.15pm. What’s the story, what’s the connection?

  • India and China buy a large proportion of the world’s supply of grain now, which means there is less on the world market.
  • Grains are being grown to produce bio-ethanol, a renewable energy that mitigates an environmental problem, but grows crops for fuel not food.
  • There is only a small amount of additional land available in Europe and the US for growing extra cereals — farmers need the right kind of land and plenty of water.

This worldwide context impacts directly on our herd management here on this single dairy farm in South Cumbria. The economics of feeding a lot of cereals to dairy cows doesn’t add up since the price we can sell our milk at has not risen in line with the price of grain. With less cereals in their diet the cows will produce less milk, which means we will be milking 2 times per day rather than 3. Milking times will now be 4.30 a.m. and 3.15 p.m.

A complex tale, but one that indicates how even local food is interlinked with the global economy.

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