One of Scotland’s leading dairy herds has become yet another victim of the parlous state of the dairy sector.
The 350 milking portion of the Meikle Firth Holstein herd, run by the Yates family at Firthhead farm, Haugh of Urr, near Castle Douglas, comes under the hammer at Harrison and Hetherington’s sale at Carlisle on June 8.
David Yates told The Scottish Farmer: “It’s a big wrench to see the cows go, but at 14p a litre we are fed up at losing money. We need at least 20p just to break even.
“It may be the wrong time to sell given the state the dairy sector is in, but we believe it is the right decision to get out now rather than go on losing money. We are no different to many other dairy families who have already made the same decision to get out. We are losing £15,000 a month as things stand and there is no way we can absorb that long-term.”
“However, all is not lost. We still have 200 in-calf heifers, so we’ve still got the genetics and will be ready to go again when things start improving again, although there is little light at the end of the tunnel just now,” added Mr Yates.
His near neighbour, Ronnie Wilson, of Mayfield farm, Castle Douglas, is in a similar position. He has already sold 1400 Holstein cows but has 1000 head still left.
Said Mr Wilson: “I’ve heard the rumours that we are set to switch to Jerseys but that is not the case.
“Since we were ditched by Lactalis at the beginning of April our milk is going down the road to the Woodcock brothers at Yew Tree, near Skelmersdale. The price is not great but we will hang on for now.
“The real problem as things stand is the huge gap in prices between top and bottom, with highs of up to near enough 30p and down as low as 11p. In 2012 the gap was only 3p. We can’t go on with such a difference in the price range. The industry has got to address this.”
Source: The Scottish Farmer