Changes and innovation in the livestock industry - the example of dairy farming

The Old Library, Lloyd's
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
1:10 pm – 1:55 pm
    • Christopher Reynolds, Professor of Animal and Dairy Science, Director of CEDAR (Centre for Dairy Research), Reading University
  • Accident lecture

In this IIL accident lecture Christopher Reynolds gave an overview of the recent evolution of the dairy industry, the economic and social drivers of change in the industry, and past and current innovations that are shaping the structure and future of the industry.

Modern dairy farming has undergone huge transformation since the food shortages of World War 2 that has been driven by government and industry led research and innovation. A key factor has been the genetic improvements in dairy cattle that have been accelerated by the use of artificial insemination and more recently through the use of DNA-based genetic evaluation and embryo transfer technologies. Similarly, the development of milking and feed management technology has dramatically reduced on-farm labour requirements, although a shortage of skilled labour continues to be a risk for dairy farmers. These innovations have led to sustained annual increases in milk yield per cow that have accompanied dramatic decreases in the total number of dairy cows, decreases in the number of dairy farms, and a general increase in farm size. Recent developments in robotic milking and wearable sensors for reproductive management and cow monitoring are two examples of innovations now increasingly used in the industry.

Milk is a perishable product containing over 85% water and post-harvest processing to manage product supply and demand is a particular challenge for the dairy industry. In this regard the global market for lower moisture (thus concentrated) co-products with longer shelf-lives such as butter, cheese, and milk powders are a major determinant of farm gate milk price and the margin for dairy products. In addition to these and other economic pressures, consumer concerns over healthy foods, provenance, animal welfare, and the carbon footprint of their foods are driving change in the industry through milk contracts and milk pool specific regulations. In this regard environmental impact has emerged as a major concern for the industry, as well as the impact of climate change through heat and drought events and the spread of disease.

In other countries the dairy industry has become polarized with a relatively small number of very large farms supplying 60% or more of 'commodity' milk extremely efficiently and profitably, with smaller, 'low input' farms providing more local markets with specific branded products. It remains to be seen whether the industry in the UK will follow a similar path in which commodity milk production adopts a model more akin to modern pork and poultry production.

By the end of this lecture members would have gained an insight into:

  • How technology and innovation is shaping dairy farming and, in particular, robotic and genetic technologies
  • Economic and social pressures facing the dairy industry
  • Risks for dairy farmers, including those associated with climate change

Chair:
Graham Plaister MBIAC, Principal Livestock & Equine Specialist, Sedgwick International UK.

Venue
  • The Old Library, Lloyd's
  • One Lime Street
  • London
  • EC3M 7HA
View map

Registration & Security

IIL lectures are open to CII and PFS members
CII and PFS members must register online by 2pm one working day before the lecture
For lectures held in The Old Library, Lloyd's pass holders may also attend and do not need to register
All attendees (at any venue) must produce photo ID - either a Lloyd's pass, driving licence with photo or valid passport

Conditions:

  • Email confirmations and photo ID must be produced to security staff at the lecture venue
  • Attendance confirmations are non-transferable to any other person or lecture
  • All venues have limited capacity and registration and/or a Lloyd's pass does not guarantee admission

Please let us know what we can do to make our events fully accessible to you.

Contact:
Please contact Allison Potts (020 7397 3914) or Edward Walker (020 7397 3915) with any queries regarding the CPD events programme.

CII Accredited

This demonstrates the quality of an event and that it meets CII member CPD scheme requirements.

3/4 hours' CPD can be claimed for this event if relevant to your learning and development needs.

It is recommended that you keep any evidence of the CPD activity you have completed and upload copies to the recording tool as the CII may ask to see this if your record is selected for review. Details of the scheme can be viewed online at www.cii.co.uk/cpd.