Benchmarking at CAFRE

James Kirk, The Forth Farm, Ballydyan Road Crossgar discussing his CAFRE benchmarking figures with members of his Business Development Group
James Kirk, The Forth Farm, Ballydyan Road Crossgar discussing his CAFRE benchmarking figures with members of his Business Development Group

James Kirk runs a dairy herd of 180 Holstein cows near Crossgar, Co Down.

His main focus is to maximise milk production from forage as he sees this as being a significant driver in reducing production costs.

Last year the herd produced over 3,800 litres of milk from grass and silage (more than twice the CAFRE benchmark average). The result is that concentrate cost on James’s farm is 46% of the herd’s total variable costs compared to the CAFRE benchmarked average of 65%. As concentrate costs are normally the largest cost in milk production, this represents a significant saving on the farm.

James is a member of his local Business Development Group. He believes that by actively participating in the group, members have the opportunity to discuss and see what other local farmers are doing to improve their own businesses. The concept of Business Development Groups is that ‘farmers learn from farmers’. In December, James hosted the group meeting on dairy benchmarking. He presented his CAFRE benchmarking results for the year which provoked an open and detailed discussion about his herd performance, his decisions and reasons behind the results.