Lean Management

Published 27 June 14

Lean Management for Dairy Farms

AHDB Dairy’s role is to promote world class knowledge and expertise in British dairy farming. This includes taking the best management practices from other industries and sectors and using them to help our farmers profit from a sustainable future; Lean is a way of doing this.

What is it?

Lean Management is a continuous improvement management model used in other industries, adapted and proven to be effective for GB dairy farming.

Lean Management has sustainability and profitability at its core, by eliminating and preventing the creation of waste and maximising value from the best use of inputs. Improved profitability is the result, as more product can be produced from the same inputs or the same level of product can be produced from fewer inputs.


Lean in dairy from AHDB Dairy

What are the benefits for farmers?

  • Increased efficiencies, increased net margin
  • Higher levels of operational performance
  • Being able to anticipate events and deal with shocks to the systems
  • Understand linkages within the different processes and their relative impacts
  • Improved business management and professional development for farmer and team
  • Identifying and managing business goals and targets
  • Having more time available

How is it done?

  • Working with a Dairy Lean consultant one to one with the farming team
  • Clearly identify the farm business’s aims and objectives
  • Identify the objectives to be achieved in the year, by month, by week and by day, consistent with the business aims
  • Work with the farm team to map out precisely how the objectives will be met, understood and agreed, using:
    • Physical production plans and budgets
    • Process protocols and key performance indicators at all levels of production
    • Data management systems that help staff track progress towards targets
    • Team accountability and senior management support for monitoring process performance is effective and focuses on continuous improvement (regular team review meetings)
    • Work with other stakeholders (family, staff, vet, nutritionist, consultant, etc.) so that they understand and support changes
    • Coaching  and development of the farm business team, to support them in their roles
    • Build a maintenance system for assets, to ensure that they are in top productive capacity (ie land, buildings, machinery, the dairy herd and, most importantly, labour)
    • Continuous review of processes, especially in changing environments

How to get involved

  • Use one of the AHDB Dairy endorsed Dairy Lean Consultants who are there to support farmers through establishing and embedding Dairy Lean on farm:

Oliver Hall - Evolution Farming

Andrew Suddes - Promar
07976 334705

Phil Alcock - Bishopton Vets
North Yorkshire

Dr Kay Carson - Streamline Farm Management
01829 260599

Andrew Nicholas - Harvey Hughes
07816 960 251

Dr George Fisher - George Fisher Consulting

Carolyn Smith - ADAS
01267 220127

Tom Bell - Douglas Green Consulting Ltd
07341 814673

Ian Powell - The Dairy Group
07831 617952


  • Educational and business management organisations run workshops on basic principles of Lean Management
  • AHDB Dairy can hold events on basic principles and understandings of Dairy Lean Management
  • Leadership skills are key to successful implementation of Dairy Lean, so taking part in Leadership workshops.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Rachael Chamberlayne on 024 7647 8788 or rachael.chamberlayne@ahdb.org.uk