Arla Buys Yeo Valley

The world’s largest producer of organic dairy products, Arla Foods, is to acquire Yeo Valley Dairies Limited, a subsidiary of the Yeo Valley Group Limited.

Arla Foods Limited, a subsidiary of Arla Foods amba, is to acquire Yeo Valley Dairies Limited, a subsidiary of the Yeo Valley Group Limited.

The transaction will give Arla Foods the rights to use the Yeo Valley brand on the UK market for milk, butter, spreads and cheese under an intellectual property license with Yeo Valley.

The Yeo Valley yoghurt, ice cream, cream and desserts business will continue to be run independently through Yeo Valley Group, which remains under the ownership of the Mead family.

Peter Giørtz-Carlsen, executive vice president and head of Europe in Arla Foods, said: “The potential for organic dairy products in the UK is significant, and our investment in range through this licensing agreement with Yeo Valley provides a significant opportunity to offer a greater choice to consumers at attractive prices.

“Our ambition is to encourage customers in the UK to trade up from standard to organic milk, butter and cheese, driving overall growth for organic across dairy categories.”

Organic dairy

Currently in the UK, only 4% of milk sold in the UK fresh milk market is organic, which compares with far greater shares of organic in the milk market in Germany (10%), Sweden (16%) and Denmark (29%)Currently in the UK, only 4% of milk sold in the UK fresh milk market is organic, which compares with far greater shares of organic in the milk market in Germany (10%), Sweden (16%)

“As the world’s leading producer of organic dairy products, Arla has promoted and expanded our sales of organic products across its European core markets over the past decade.”

It is a valuable part of our offer to consumers in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands as well as China and, most recently, in the Middle East.

“Now we take a determined step to make organic dairy products more available to UK consumers as we believe that organic milk has a key role to play as consumers increasingly look for ways to make their diets healthier and more natural,” Giørtz-Carlsen said.

In the UK, the Arla organic free range milk has driven 60% of all the growth within the organic milk category in the last 12 months, with 70% of all Arla organic free range milk sales attributable to customers who would have not previously purchased organic milk.


With one in four households now purchasing organic products, there is opportunity for the UK dairy sector to convert more of its customers from standard to organic dairy.

To fuel this growth and meet the growing needs of consumers requires investment in innovation and range under both the Yeo Valley and Arla brand.

Tim Mead, organic farmer and custodian of the family business said: “Arla’s farmer-owned credentials are aligned to the values and ethos that the Yeo Valley brand is based on – S“We have a long-held ambition to grow organic dairy in the UK.”

Completion of the transaction will take place following approval by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

Arla Foods is an international dairy company owned by 11,200 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands.

supporting British Family Family Farms

Calving in Dairy herds

It’s well worth reviewing the basics of calf rearing on your farm before the new arrivals make an appearance. Vet gives some pointers.

Many of our clients are now stocking up for a busy spring for calving. It’s well worth reviewing the basics of calf-rearing on your farm before the new arrivals make an appearance. I recently visited a dairy client who will focus on reducing calf mortality as one of his Knowledge Transfer targets.

He has already installed a single-unit milking machine in the calving area. He bottle feeds every calf shortly after being born and is amazed at the volume they consume.

Our conversation highlighted how a focus on colostrum management at farm level is pivotal to the rearing of healthy calves and will have far-reaching benefits in terms of protecting calves from disease and therefore maximising their future productivity and profitability.

With the current desire to reduce antibiotic usage, it makes sense to maximise the calf’s immunity with the natural protection available in the dam’s colostrum.


Although your calves may receive colostrum, the quality of the colostrum received cannot be accurately assessed by looking at milk or by knowing the parity of the cow. An easy and affordable method of testing colostrum quality on the farm is a simple hand-held device called a Brix refractometer (available from your vet). If colostrum is <50 mg/mL IgG, then it should be avoided and good-quality frozen colostrum fed instead. Remember, your colostrum can be contaminated by bacteria during collection, storage or feeding using unclean buckets or tanks – good hygiene practises are key. Quality is affected by age, diet and particularly vaccination status of the cow.


The timing of the first feed of colostrum is crucial to the newborn calf achieving passive immunity from the dam. The calf’s intestine will only absorb antibodies from the colostrum in the first 24 hours. Aim to feed colostrum as soon as possible after birth when the suck reflex is strongest; the calf’s ability to absorb antibodies is halved within six hours.


The 1-2-3 rule of thumb is a good guideline. Feed minimum three litres of colostrum (or 8.5% of bodyweight) within two hours from the dam’s first milking. Failure of the calf to absorb sufficient amounts of antibodies (IgG) from the colostrum is called failure of passive transfer. Calves can be blood tested for IgG levels if poor colostrum transfer is suspected in the herd. Less than 5.5G/dl indicates successful transfer of antibodies.

If you have the knowledge, you can plan ahead. Colostrum management is the single-most important factor in giving your calves a great start to life.


How to test ventilation with smoke bomb

If a shed has poor ventilation, you are more likely to get an accumulation of heat and moisture in a building which provides an optimal environment for bacteria to grow. Good ventilation will ensure that animals are breathing in fresh air which can help reduce respiratory issues, but ventilation is only one tool that can be used to reduce the incidence of pneumonia, with vaccination and good husbandry also vital. A good shed design will bring fresh air into the shed where it can collect bacteria, moisture and heat which will then be carried out of the shed. The more air that can be drawn into the shed, the more diluted the harmful bacteria becomes. The shed used in this example is a four-bay single slatted shed with an open front. The shed has a creep and is fitted with vented sheeting above the back wall, up to the eaves. The prevailing wind approaches the shed from the back, hitting the vented sheeting. There are two doors on the creep area of the shed but for this example they were left closed.

Non-toxic pellets

When carrying out a smoke bomb test, it is important that non-toxic smoke pellets are used. There is no flame when the pellet is lit but it is still important to keep it on a fireproof surface. In this example an old tile was used when carrying out the smoke test. Each of these pellets will burn for about a minute and provide ample smoke to allow you to see how the air flow works in a shed.

A smoke bomb test will not always give you a perfect answer as to the air flow through your shed as there can be many contributing factors, not least of which involves the air speed on a given day. The smoke test shown in these examples was carried out on a very calm night where there was very little wind. It is advisable to carry out the test in calm conditions, so you can see how the natural ventilation in the shed works. This will show the airflow in the shed at its worst.

Animals present

It is advisable to carry out the smoke bomb test at animal height when there are animals in the shed as this gives a truer reflection of the air movement and conditions that animals are subjected too.

However, farmers should never go into a pen if cattle are easily agitated, such as bulls. Another alternative is to burn the pellets from the creep area of the shed to give an indication of the conditions present.

In Welsh conditions, wind movement has a large effect on air flow through sheds. Not only can a smoke bomb be used to see if air is stagnant in a shed but it can also be used to see if it is too quick which could lead to draughts. However, this is generally not as big of an issue as poor air movement.

It is vital to avoid draughts, especially with young calves. One thing that is not as prevalent in a calf house is the stack effect as less heat is produced by the calves to drive it. Therefore, you are relying on the wind and the design of the shed to ensure that there is sufficient air flow without causing draughts.

Continuous air movement

When the pellet begins to smoke, you want it to rise up as quickly as possible and exit through the outlet ventilation of the shed, whether it is the ridge cap or through spaced sheeting in the roof. For this to work, ample air must flow in through the inlets on the sides of the shed. If the smoke does not rise but moves quickly along the floor of the shed, this can be an indication of a draught.

Upon burning the pellet, the smoke produced rose straight up away from the animals, highlighting that there were no draughts in the shed, but it was clear that the smoke lingered in the shed for a time. The important thing was that even as the smoke lingered in the shed it was still moving and did not gather in any one area.

It is important to review the ventilation in your sheds, especially for older buildings that may have been adapted over the years. Often farmers will put down an increased stocking rate in the shed as the reason for an increased incidence of respiratory diseases. However the underlying reason is more likely to be poor ventilation. Having a shed well-ventilated can also add to its lifetime. High levels of condensation, and gases may lead to the corrosion of structures over time. Research from the UK has shown that it is desired that there is a minimum change of air within the building of at least 10 times every hour, this would be much higher in warm, humid conditions. One key aspect of fresh air that is often overlooked is its effectiveness at killing harmful bacteria. Research in the UK has shown that fresh air can kill many bacteria and viruses 10-20 times faster than a mix of half and half fresh and stale air.

Dairy markets are reacting negatively to building supply pressure across Europe

The last 12 months will generally be remembered by dairy farmers as a very good year.

Dairy markets began to recover rapidly from October 2016, so much so that by March, prices for spring milk were back on a strong footing.

The unprecedented spike in butter prices across Europe from May onwards added further upward momentum to farmgate milk prices right into the autumn months.

While consumer demand for butter is revitalised in recent years, the big driver of the record butter price was weak milk production coming out of Germany and France in the first half of 2017.

Dairy farmers in these countries were hit hard by the low milk prices the previous year and they were slow to recover their confidence.

However, the very strong milk prices in the second half of 2017 inevitably enticed farmers in Europe to produce more.

Since September, we saw rapid growth in German, French and UK milk production and this has had markets worried.

German milk production in October increased 5% year on year to 2.5bn litres, while French milk production was also up 5% in October to hit 1.9bn litres. UK milk production in October was up 4% to 1.15bn litres.

Dutch expansion

Even more alarming for dairy markets is the situation in the Netherlands, where milk production continues to expand, defying all expectations. October milk collection was up 1.6% to 1.13bn litres, while November collections rose 1.9% to just under 1.1bn litres.

A flush of milk is building in Europe and processors are expecting large volumes to come in the spring months.

FrieslandCampina has already written to suppliers urging them to reign in production for early 2018, as the co-op might not have the capacity to process all the milk.

After a very good year for milk prices, 2017 will close out with plenty of anxiety in dairy markets as supply builds and looks set to outpace demand once again.

New targets for Wales to be officially TB Free

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs has today announced TB eradication targets for Wales and interim targets for each TB region – which if achieved will see Wales become officially TB free between 2036 and 2041.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Interim targets, covering 6-year periods, will be set for each of the TB Areas.   These targets will specify overall reductions in herd incidence as well as the transfer of Spatial Units from higher incidence areas to lower incidence areas.

This means, for example, the Low TB Area will expand over time, to cover land currently classified as Intermediate, and High TB Areas will shrink as their Spatial Units are reclassified to the Intermediate areas. At the end of each 6-year period, progress will be assessed and milestones set for the following period.

Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths said:

“We have made good progress in recent years towards eradicating TB in Wales.  There has been a significant reduction in incidence across Wales and I am determined we continue that improvement.

“The 6-year regional milestones I am announcing today are key to delivering this.  If achieved, Wales will become Officially TB free between 2036 and 2041.

“These milestones stress the urgency of the task at hand and reflect my ambition to see important progress in each region during each period.  They will help convey the need for immediate action, to focus minds and to drive the progress necessary to achieve our collective goals.

“We have enhanced our TB Eradication Programme this autumn and the regional approach to TB eradication is intended to help us achieve our targets. We now need to focus on protecting the Low TB Area from disease incursion and driving down disease in the Intermediate and High TB Areas. We will continue to build our programme as we progress towards our goal of a TB free Wales.

“Meeting our targets will not be easy.  They are intended to be ambitious and to stretch us. Achieving them will require the cooperation and dedication of everyone involved. I am challenging us all, in Government, APHA, industry and our veterinary colleagues, to commit everything to ensure we eradicate this dreadful disease as soon as possible.”

Antibiotics use falling in the UK


Reducing antibiotics use is part of plans to combat drug-resistant diseases.

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recorded record low sales of antibiotics for use in livestock last year and more ambitious targets are on the way. 

According to a new government report to be published this Friday, sales of veterinary antibiotics relative to the UK’s food-producing animal population dropped by 27% between 2014 and 2016.

While there were 62mg of antibiotics sold per kg of livestock biomass in 2014, this fell to 45mg/kg last year. According to DEFRA, this surpasses the 50mg/kg target set for the industry.

“The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working,” said DEFRA Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner. “Now we must continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further.”

Drug-resistant superbugs

The industry group Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) is expected to announce new targets later on Friday to reduce antibiotics use in the future.

Efforts to reduce antibiotics use in humans and animals are part of a plan to tackle anti-microbial resistance and avoid the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs.

The latest EU-wide comparison of antibiotics use is for 2014 and shows the UK to be among the most moderate users, with less than half the European average rate.

Collaboration needed in dairy chain Scotland

“The dairy industry needs to prepare for radical change; with more volatility, less support and greater competition as a result of Brexit, according to a Dairy Hub panel at AgriScot. 

More collaboration is needed across the dairy chain, the dairy hub panel at AgriScot agreed on Wednesday.

“Every part of the supply chain has to look at ways of dealing with and managing volatility,” the CEO of First Milk Shelagh Hancock said. “Mechanisms are one aspect of it, but there has to be a holistic approach in how we deal with it collectively. Not everyone will want to trade in futures, but that is one option.”

She added that we have grown accustomed to volatility over the last decade, but that the peaks and troughs are more amplified now. Swings of 10p/l to 12p/l are the norm, compared to just 3p/l a few years ago.

We have to be prepared for radical change and serious challenges,” AHDB dairy chair Gwyn Jones said. “The messages are not great. The only way to make sure farmers have the best chance of surviving is to make sure they are competitive and productive and I know that is not easy.”

And the dairy industry is not immune to the challenges around labour. NFUS deputy president Gary Mitchell said: “We are getting to crisis point much quicker than I imagined. In Dumfries and Galloway staff theft is a new crime. I heard of four farms that have stopped three times a day milking based solely on staff shortages, not cost. That’s 65,000t of cheese from Dumfries and Galloway that won’t be produced.”

The industry needs to prepare for radical change; with more volatility, less support and greater competition as a result of Brexit.”

Cerebrocortical Necrosis (CCN)

Cerebrocortical necrosis (CCN) – a nervous disease in cattle and sheep caused by disrupted thiamine production in the body. 

One evening recently, a client phoned saying he had a bullock that was on grass and behaving very unusually. He was falling on the ground and paddling, trying to get up but on getting his legs under him failing to rise and ending up in a dog-sitting position with his head held high and shaking. The animal was about 550kg and was on the farm about a month and was on a field of lush grass.

The symptoms were definitely those of a brain problem. At this stage, the diagnosis is a process of elimination as the following conditions come to mind: meningitis, listeriosis, lead poisoning, injury, tetany (very rare in male cattle), and cerebrocortical necrosis or CCN.

In the case of meningitis, one would expect a more gradual onset and probably an elevated temperature; listeriosis would likely have the animal walking in circles, again with an elevated temperature, and would not have come on as suddenly.

Lead poisoning will come on very suddenly if the animal had access to lead (in batteries, old painted gates or old horse carts, etc.) This was unlikely, given that this field is in pasture a long time and not near a public road from which hazardous material could have been thrown.

The most likely diagnosis was CCN. The animal was treated for this and while his prospects at the time looked poor, he had made an excellent recovery by the next morning.

Cerebrocortical (CCN) is a nervous disease seen in cattle and sheep that is caused by disrupted thiamine production in the body. Thiamine is necessary in glucose metabolism that, when deficient, is most threatening to nervous activity. Cattle and sheep diagnosed with CCN exhibit muscle tremors, blindness, disoriented movement and eventually fatality, if left untreated

Ruminants have working rumen bacteria that synthesise thiamine for the body. However, feed concentrates given to ruminants are often heavily stocked with thiaminases, which counter its production. High levels of sugars in feed can also result in thiamine inadequacy.

When there is a sudden increase of glucose in the body, thiamine will be depleted so that it is not available, resulting in induced deficiency. High concentrations of sulphur intake has also been deemed responsible for CCN. Sulphur is necessary for the synthesis of important sulphur-containing amino acids and proteins.

Luscious grass high in sugars and sulphates are seen as a likely predisposing factor to CCN. Immediate treatment is absolutely necessary to prevent death. The only advice one can give in seeking to prevent it is to make sure there is enough fibre in the diet.