Milkminder Manager of the Year Award.

Promar Milkminder is the comprehensive costing scheme which helps dairy farmers improve technical and financial performance. Rob beat off over 600 other dairy businesses to win the award which has been presented for over 30 years.

Rob Chilman runs a herd of 230 Holsteins averaging 11455 litres, with a margin over purchased feeds of £2546 per cow.  The cows are managed on a straightforward system based on maximising contribution from forage.  The milking herd is housed all year round and bedded on sand cubicles. Cows are milked twice daily and TMR fed, and all are fitted with activity monitors.

The objective of the business is to maximise margin per cow which is driven by milk from forage; last year over 4200 litres (37% of all production) were produced from forage and this is still rising.  Attention to detail is key to all they do, with the objective of managing costs while striving to improve herd performance.

Rob farms a total of 86 hectares made up of owned and rented land and buys in 20 hectares of grass silage per year.  The milking diet is kept as consistent as possible, based on grass, maize, a blend and Trafford syrup.

In the last year, average herd size increased by 15 cows and yield per cow rose by 550 litres, while milk from forage remained constant.  Feed rate per litre fell to 0.21kg/l, with feed costs per litre falling by 3% to 7.15ppl.  Both notable figures following a £7/tonne increase in feed prices and an increase in total feed costs per cow of 1.7%.

“Despite a challenging market, with milk prices under pressure and significant commodity feed price inflation, Mr Chilman has maintained margins by focussing on attention to detail in all aspects of the business,” comments Neil Adams, MD at Promar, and one of the judges.

“Attention to detail and regular monitoring of performance has allowed him to achieve an outstanding level of technical performance.  By focussing on controlling costs, he has gone a long way towards maintaining margin over purchased feed per cow while reducing other cost areas to manage total cost of production.”

Mr Chilman comments that Milkminder provides an easy and rapid way to keep a check on margins.  “We like the fact it is so instantaneous and tells us exactly what is going on.  We know that what we do today will affect next month’s costings, allowing us to react quickly as required to keep performance on track.”

Mr Chilman was selected from a national shortlist.  Neil Adams says all the finalists shared several key attributes.  “They are driven, ambitious, and very capable cow managers, open to change, aware of the challenges their business faces and positioning their businesses to meet the demands of a volatile milk price.  They concentrate on the parts of their business they can influence and appreciate that business management solutions require a skilled team both on and off farm.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.