Something to talk about?

Published 23 August 10

DairyCo extension officers run discussion groups up and down GB, the groups are formed by farmers, who decide on the subjects they want to discuss, and how often they want to meet.  After that, it's over to DairyCo to get the groups up and running.

Discussion groups usually consist of eight to ten dairy farmers, and provide an opportunity to discuss current challenges, on-farm practice, and business planning with other farmers.  Expert advice can also be brought in, and is arranged by the extension officer, so if the group has a particular interest in soil management for example, a specialist can be booked to come and discuss the topic. 

If you are interested in starting or being part of a discussion group then contact your nearest extension officer. 

Case study

DairyCo extension officer for the midlands, Andy Dodd, was contacted by a small number of farmers who were interested in starting a discussion group in their area.  Andy wrote to other dairy farmers who might want to participate, inviting them to an initial meeting to be held on-farm. 

Five farmers came along to hear an introduction to DairyCo, and to take a look at grass and grazing management in the dry conditions.  The group discussed the current situation on both the host farm and their own, and came to a number of conclusions about how best to manage the grass at this stage, and going forward. 

Mowing, grazing, water provision and how best to divide the fields were all talked about, and Andy Dodd brought in some of the latest research on grassland management and cow tracks.  

Finally the group decided they would go ahead and meet again, agreed how often they wanted to meet, and decided that the topic they wanted to look into further at the next meeting would be heifer management over the winter months.  Other topics on the cards are slurry utilisation, renewable energy, and a look at the results of Milkbench+, the DairyCo business benchmarking system that the group is considering using.

"It's a really positive start," says Andy, "these groups provide an excellent opportunity to get together with others and share your experiences, it's a chance to see other farms in your area, and also to think about how you might do things differently on your own farm."