DAIRY FARMING IN SWITZERLAND - A MODEL FOR RURAL DAIRY FARMING IN IRELAND

  • 642 views
Uploaded on

Switzerland has a unique structure in in its dairy industry due to state supports. …

Switzerland has a unique structure in in its dairy industry due to state supports.

The Swiss government has placed emphasis on self sufficiency in milk products while avoiding rural depopulation by keeping farms on the land. A significant feature encountered was the size of dairy herds. Over 80pc of dairy herds range from ten to fifty cows in size. There are no milk quotas. Dairy herd size has increased over the past ten years. Family run farms are the norm, with an increase in technology to accommodate the management of cow numbers.

There is a spin-off to the tourist industry as the tourists are drawn to a vibrant active community in the mountainous areas during the summer months. Can Ireland learn from the Swiss government intervention before my farming friends on the Dingle peninsula disappear?

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
642
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. DAIRY FARMING IN SWITZERLAND - A MODEL FOR RURAL DAIRY FARMING IN IRELANDDr. Dan Ryan is a bovine reproductive physiologist who regularly writes for the Farming Independentin Ireland. This document was created for the article that appeared on the 15th Jan 2013.www.independent.ie.Switzerland has a unique structure in in its dairy industry due to state supports. So I was delightedwhen I go the opportunity to see it firsthand recently.The dairy industry in Switzerland was protected from competition by imports up to ten years ago. Atthat time, dairy farmers got 90 cents per litre. Current milk price is close to 47 cents per litre.However, government supports account for approximately 50pc of dairy farm income. The Swissgovernment has placed emphasis on self sufficiency in milk products while avoiding ruraldepopulation by keeping farms on the land. A significant feature encountered was the size of dairyherds. Over 80pc of dairy herds range from ten to fifty cows in size. There are no milk quotas. Dairyherd size has increased over the past ten years. Family run farms are the norm, with an increase intechnology to accommodate the management of cow numbers.Fig 1: An promotional photo for bio-milk.There has been a significant uptake in robotic milking when herd size increases above 50 cows.Farmers claim a better lifestyle with robotic milking. The Brown Swiss is the predominant dairybreed, with some Holstein, Jersey and cross-breeding from same.The dairy herds visited had 305 day rolling herd averages ranging from 7,200 to 9,000 litres. Calvingpatterns presented a year round calving with a peak in the autumn. A technician lead AI servicethrough Swiss Genetics was the primary method of getting cows in calf.The winters are long and harsh with cows housed from October to May. The cows are housed in tie-up stall systems. The system is labour intensive. On one herd of 38 cows, a husband and wife teamwork full-time on the farm. They would not be able to farm except for the government subsidies.The government supporting structure helps keep farming families in rural areas. This helps maintaina rural social fabric integral to their tourist industry.In Ireland, we have placed an emphasis on a 50pc increase in milk production by 2020. What willthis do to small dairy farms based on fragmented holdings? A classical example is the dairy industryon the Dingle peninsula in Co. Kerry. Many of these dairy farms range from 25 to 60 cows in size.
  • 2. The opportunity and desire to increase herd size is restricted. Farm fragmentation, size and agestructure of the farming population dictate little opportunity to expand. Indeed, the wet summer of2012 dictate that many farmers will reduce rather than increase cow numbers.Back in Switzerland, I got the opportunity to visit a milk processing plant, Züger®, owned by Christofand Markus Züger. They employ 180 people, process 10,500 tonnes of milk products with a range of500 food products. The latter is based on added value to mozzarella, feta cheese, mascarpone, grillcheese and lactose free milk products. They source all their milk from Swiss dairy farms and includeraw milk from conventional, organic and buffalo dairy herds. This company won the Ernst & YoungEntrepreneur of the Year Award 2010 for their level of innovation and added value milk products ingenerating niche export markets. The Irish dairy processing industry has placed too much emphasison commodity based milk products, which will, in my opinion cause decimation of the dairy industryon small fragmented farms in rural Ireland post 2015.We need more than the Kerrygold brand of butter which has triumphed across Europe. We have agreen image but need a Züger milk processing mentality to add value to milk products for nichemarkets.Finally, Züger® works in an environment where there are no milk quotas. They agree milk pricecontracts directly with farmers. Milk price is lowest in spring months because of supply and demandcurve. Züger® has to increase milk price from May to August as close to 8pc of the dairy herd ismoved to the mountains to produce Alpine cheese.The Swiss government has placed an emphasis on maintaining cottage industries. They have fundedthe establishment of a processing plant for the hand-made production of Alpine cheese. Farmerscurrently get €20 per kg for this cheese.There is a spin-off to the tourist industry as the tourists are drawn to a vibrant active community inthe mountainous areas during the summer months. Can we learn from the Swiss governmentintervention before my farming friends on the Dingle peninsula disappear?Dr. Dan Ryan is a bovine reproductive physiologist. His company CowsDNA offer a ManagedScanning Service. The managed scanning service can increase profitability and reduce the herdscalving interval without increasing the replacement rate. Dr. Dan can be contacted atwww.cowsdna.com.