DLG e.V. - DLG-Agrifuture Insights Report Poland - Dairy Farming 2017

Country Report for Poland 2017 - Dairy Cattle Farming Reduce costs, securing liquidity and improve animal welfare

Milk producers in Poland learned lessons for farm management from the period of low prices in 2015 and 2016. The improved economic situation in the course of 2017 broadens the scope for the further development of production processes. The focus is on increasing cow comfort. DLG-Agrifuture Insights shows the planned operational course set by milk producers in Poland.

  • The dairy cattle farmers surveyed in Poland see cost reductions as the most important measure for confronting future low-price phases for milk prices.
  • The securing of financial solvency and the management of fluctuating producer prices are important management areas.
  • Milk producers are very interested in technical innovations for improving animal welfare.

Management focus in dairy cattle farming: Lessons from period of low milk prices

For over 90 percent of the milk producers who participated in the survey, securing of financial solvency and management of fluctuating producer prices are currently the most important area of action. In addition, milk producers are working on lowering production costs and on breeding with a greater focus on the characteristics of robustness. And finally, more animal welfare through improved livestock management are currently another important area of action according to the milk producers surveyed.

For even if the drop in milk prices in Poland was not as serious as in other countries, the low producer prices in 2015 and 2016 have given rise to financial difficulties for dairy cattle farmers. Based on this experience, the surveyed dairy cattle farmers want to develop their farm management further to make the right decisions and remain financially solvent when a new period of low prices occurs.

Farmers consider cost reductions to be prerequisite to coping with period of low prices. For low production costs are the basis for economic stability. In high-price phases, low production costs allow expansion of savings, and in low-price phases there is less risk of liquidity shortages.

Finally, the milk producers in Poland want to improve the robustness and longevity of their cows. As a result, these characteristics can achieve major importance in dairy cattle farming in future. For in addition to an improvement in animal welfare, longer periods of use reduce the replacement rate and enable additional income from the possible sale of heifers and the related higher economic stability.

When asked about specific measures for coping with further phases of low milk prices, the reduction of costs is the most important means for the majority of the the surveyed milk producers. For low production costs lead to considerably more room for manoeuvring to secure financial solvency. And the negotiating position with banks if bridge financing becomes necessary is strengthened by good key performance indicators. For farms with low production costs achieve cost-covering prices again more quickly and are economically more stable.

While low production costs are the basis for economic stability, liquidity management is an important tool for farmers for remaining solvent. In this context, the liquidity forecast and/or liquidity planning is seen as an adequate means for remaining capable of acting in periods of low prices by 66 percent of the surveyed milk producers. However, according to the assessment of the milk producers surveyed, liquidity management is the second most-important approach. But ultimately, both approaches are an essential component of efficient milk production.

With regard to the technological trends, the improvement of animal welfare is most important to just under 80 percent of the farmers who participated in the survey. For animal welfare means cow comfort and is an indispensable part of modern milk production. Animal welfare is therefore also a decisive factor for success from an economic point of view. In addition, high animal welfare standards in the cow barn are an important line of argumentation in the public debate on the future of dairy cattle farming. In this context, the surveyed milk producers also consider the approval of husbandry systems for a effective tool for achieving increased animal welfare.

Finally, for over 70 percent of the dairy cattle farmers surveyed, automatic feed provision is a very important or important technological trend in milk production. For repeated feed provision in smaller portions helps avoid feed losses. As the herds are consistently offered fresh feed, this stimulates the acceptance of feed. Furthermore, milk producers can save working time and, for example, pay more attention to herd management.

The optimisation of nutrient management plays an increasing role for farmers in Poland, for the EU legislation calls for action. To increase nutrient efficiency, the surveyed dairy cattle farmers have improved the lifetime daily output. For with a higher output the milk producers use the nutrients produced and/or purchased more efficiently. In this context, those surveyed are also focusing on avoiding feed losses and on nitrogen-reduced feeding. As a result, it becomes apparent that the milk producers surveyed in Poland are completely banking on the feeding "lever" for improving nutrient management.

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