Make benchmarking pay

Published 23 August 10

We know that in principle benchmarking your business makes sense because it allows you to compare the performance of your dairy herd with others and against your own progress targets. But sometimes it's good to remind ourselves what the benefits can be in practice.

Chris Coxon, DairyCo extension officer recently worked with a group of farmers to look at and compare their energy costs. The best rate in the group was 9p/kWh during the day and 4p/kWh during the night while the worst was 13p/kWh during the day and 9p/kWh at night. 

"As you can imagine the producer on the worst rate wasn't happy, particularly as he had just renewed his contract with his supplier. It was a case of him renewing rather than shopping around," Chris explains.

After the meeting the farmer went home and called his supplier.  Though initially they refused to change the rates, the farmer suggested that he might be better off investing in a generator, which would mean he wouldn't need any more electricity.  His persistence paid off, and the supplier eventually dropped his day and night rates by 4p/kWh!

"The difference between the two rates equates to nearly £2,000. That works out at about a 0.16ppl saving, that's more than your DairyCo levy in one move points out Chris.  

It is also evidence that supports the arguments in favour of benchmarking as a part of continuing best business practice.  Peter Thorne, Milkbench+ team leader explains: "We sometimes forget what sort of financial difference benchmarking can make to a business.  The main thinking behind the development of Milkbench+ is that you can use it to compare a whole range of data about every aspect of production systems and costs.

"You can compare your figures with a group of farmers through a business group or with hundreds of other producers across the country, using the system to pick up ideas about best practice, and to develop new management strategies with the aim of increasing profits.

"Milkbench+ is a service that is open to all levy payers at no extra cost. We have a growing number of users who have more than recouped their annual levy payments by implementing management changes identified from their benchmarking results," says Peter.

A team of regional officers are based around the country to help farmers get the most from Milkbench+. For more information about the service contact your local regional officer or visit the DairyCo stand at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show.


Jim Samson

07717 493015


Tina Swainston

07717 496201


Derek Carless

07817 257471


Rebecca Miles

07500 873258


Ffion Jones

07767 001543


Louise Thomas

07767 001544