What I’ve learnt from dairy entrepreneurs course – Katie Gowthorpe

In this latest blog post, Future Farmer Katie Gowthorpe shares how she benefitted from a Future Farmers of Yorkshire bursary place on the (RABDF) Entrepreneurs in Dairying course.

I’d like to thank the Future Farmers of Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society for awarding me with a bursary to attend the 2023 Entrepreneurs in Dairying course.

I work as a Ruminant Sales Specialist for Thompsons of York and have a passion for dairying. I spend my spare time relief milking and feeding calves.

I grew up and worked on the family farm managing the dairy herd for nine years before travelling to experience life on an Icelandic dairy farm in 2022.

Three-month journey

The course ran by The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has included a mix of sessions over three months to give attendees knowledge to help them run their own business, covering everything from managing people to understanding milk markets to financial and business planning, accounts and tax.

These sessions included a mix of workshops, on-farm visits, presentations and guest speakers.

Dairy entrepreneurs

AHDB gave a presentation on understanding the milk markets. This gave me an insight into the four-year trends of milk markets and how we can forward plan to reduce financial risk.

Entering the dairy industry in a down time is not a bad thing due to the low cost of entering, realistic or low expectations and more benefits when the milk price reaches its highest during that four-year trend period.

AHDB also explained how the country has seen a move to block calving herds due to improvements in herd efficiency and lifestyle choices.

This was nicely backed up by a visit to Yew Tree Dairy in Skelmersdale. Yew Tree is one of the UK’s largest family owned and operated milk processing companies.

They have installed drying facilities to cope with high peaks of milk volume and the majority of the dried milk is then exported or made into other food products. Nestlé has been one of their biggest customers.

Real Success, an agricultural recruitment consultancy, provided us with an interactive workshop to understand people management and vita profiling, a tool to help you establish the behavioural and communication preferences for you and your team.

It gave me a real insight to different personality styles, how to identify these personalities and to adapt how you communicate appropriately to match personality styles.

We then looked at how to make a workplace attractive and the steps we can achieve to retain staff.

Replacing a member of staff is estimated to cost a farm business £15,000!

Tony Evans provided two full days of training on accounts and business planning. This gave me the confidence I needed to work through budget planning.

Other key notes include keeping costings simple, look for savings and constantly review budgets to optimise your profits.

Nicely following on from this, Becky Miles, Chief Executive of Dairy Futures gave a presentation.

Dairy Futures is a charitable organisation designed to give low interest loans to new dairy entrants and provide mentoring and support with business planning.

Northern dairy farmer Matt explained how Dairy Futures had helped him increase his herd from 80 to 1,000 cows.

Expanded horizons

I have gained so much knowledge and understanding of the dairy industry from this course and strongly encourage anyone that is interested in joining the family business, a joint venture or starting up a new dairy enterprise to apply for the course.

This course has set me up and given me the confidence that one day I will achieve my goal of my own dairy business. In the meantime I aim to start a business offering cattle services to local beef and dairy farms.

Thanks again to the Future Farmers of Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Since 2010, the Future Farmers of Yorkshire has been bringing together like-minded farmers, vets and industry professionals, supporting them by providing a platform for debate and the sharing of ideas.

The group is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and is open to everyone within the industry.

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