We have started breeding this week in Clara, in an attempt to minimise the fallout from the peak processing capacity problem in Glanbia Ireland. We are moving calving forward by 10 days in our case, which will move peak production forward into late March or early April.
We have the calculations done on all of the available information and we can do a final assessment if we get any significant volume from the hardship pool.
We may still have to sell some cows or heifers or take other actions along the way to minimise the fines across the peak months next year. We have a few key dates for decisions to be made. Firstly, we have started breeding early and we will breed cows for 14 weeks. We will then have another look at things after scanning in August and at dry-off in December. The final adjustment will be in late March next year.
This is our decision, based on our data, and not a recommendation for anyone else to follow the same route.
We feel we can get cows out to grass early in the season
We are not caught too badly offside, and for us, a change in direction is preferable to moving a batch of cows out to June calving.
Everyone will have to do their own assessment. We feel we can get cows out to grass early in the season this way and move cows back to later calving easily if and when things get straightened out.
Other people are talking about calving batches of cows in May or June and milking through the winter. Good facilities will be needed for this, maybe better-quality silage or splitting cows into different groups for feeding separately. All of this adds complication and stress to the system and a degree of uncertainty.
People have commitments and cashflows done, based on certain levels of output or certain cow numbers so they may have to go down this route to dilute fixed costs such as bank repayments or land leases. We should be careful enough not to dismiss those plans out of hand and to support people through a stressful time as much as possible. Nobody will know what the correct decision is with any certainty until it is all over and done with.
It is very disappointing to be left in this position with all of this stress hanging over farmers
Solid advice from discussion groups or farm consultants will be slow enough coming through because of all the uncertainty and unknowns at this point in time. People will be slow enough to give direct advice on which measures to implement. For some, it might be as simple as milking a few less cows, for others it may be a huge change in system.
It is very disappointing to be left in this position with all of this stress hanging over farmers. The speed with which information is being drip-fed from the head office is very disappointing. The milk supplier was the last to be informed and is now left on the hook for the full cost of this situation. The PLC side of the house has completely washed its hands of this problem, despite owning a 40% stake in GI.
We were left in the dark about the capacity problems right through the second half of last year
When we sought clarity through online webinars, the important questions that people submitted were ignored. Half of the allotted time was taken up with self-promoting speeches and repetition. We were effectively given a strong dose of the mushroom treatment. Kept in the dark and fed the crudest form of fertiliser.
As owners of the co-op and 60% owners of GI, milk suppliers are never shown the financials of that company. We were left in the dark about the capacity problems right through the second half of last year, while management worked on lessening the impact for the company. And we still have nobody taking responsibility for this miscommunication. If the tail keeps wagging the dog to this extent, the dog will have to sharpen its teeth.