Optimal dairy systems

The Optimal Dairy Systems programme is designed to help dairy farmers lower costs and increase efficiency by focusing on a block calving or an all year round calving system (AYR).

It will help farmers prepare for Brexit, which is likely to expose the British dairy sector to more competition, less support and increased volatility.

As a dairy farmer, we encourage you to:

  • Review and identify your current system
    Currently 72% of farmers calve AYR, 8% spring block, 9% autumn block and 11% spring & autumn
  • Compare and benchmark against top performers to understand your potential
    Block calvers’ cost of production is typically 1.1ppl to 2.4ppl lower than AYR, however the best AYR systems can achieve similar costs
  • Choose the systems that’s best for you
    What suits your farm, lowers cost, satisfies buyer requirements and complements your mind-set?

To help optimise your system, AHDB’s future activity will be tailored for either AYR or block calving, and includes:

  • Creating a simple set of key performance measures for both systems to encourage farmers to benchmark and highlight areas for improvement
  • Launching Farmbench to help farmers understand and compare full costs of production against farmers on the same system and show areas for improvement
  • Delivering on-farm meetings focused on topics relevant to each system
  • Recruiting strategic dairy farms to help farmers learn from each other through regular on-farm meetings where we will share key performance data and showcase what the best farmers are doing

Strategic dairy farms

Strategic Dairy Farms give farmers the opportunity to benchmark their own businesses, both physically and financially against performance measures and KPIs from other farms and target areas to improve their own results.

Part of our Farm Excellence project, the farms will harness the benefits of ‘farmer to farmer’ learning and accelerates the uptake of knowledge. The overall aim is to improve farmer’s business resilience and help them to remain competitive and sustainable over the long term.

As well as regular on-farm meetings, farmers can access key performance indicators and business tools which enable them to identify areas for improvement on their own farm.

Key tools and resources to make the most of your system