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StraightTalk is Now Online Features in this issue: Message from Bill Mustoe Around the Business People Focus First Milk Academy Update First Milk Direct Update


First Milk News

Message from Bill Mustoe


have been your chairman for seven weeks and without doubt the world of dairy has been a steep learning curve for me. So far, I have presented to over 700 members as part of the meetings we did around the country, and probably talked one-on-one to over 100 members during that period. Even with my limited understanding of the dairy industry, I know that we are off the pace right now on milk price. Let me talk about what we are doing to improve this situation. The No.1 focus is our cheese business. At last count we have sixteen projects at various stages of

development that will improve our profitability. However, we are not ignoring the rest of First Milk. We also have a number of project streams aimed at reducing costs or delivering new profit streams within our raw milk and ingredients operations. While we have made a good start over the last few weeks, we can and must do more. I have got the Board and the Executive team together at the end of this week to come up with more ideas to substantially improve the quality of our earnings. We need to be imaginative and open up our minds to ideas for driving the business forward outside the constraints of our current business model. In terms of managing costs, we’ve tightened that up and stopped discretionary spend where we can and limited expenses payments. I look at this very simply. Every pound the business spends is a pound that we can’t pay out to you. I said in the November newsletter that I wanted the farmer directors to get closer to the business and spend more time with the Executive team. I am happy to say that each of the farmer directors has stepped up to this challenge and I believe that we will get better debates at the Board and therefore better decision-making as a result of this linkage. A significant number of members have told me that they are supportive

Election of Local Representatives Reminder "We need to be imaginative and open our minds to ideas"

of my plan to reduce the number of elected farmer directors on the Board and co-opt farmer members with proven business acumen onto the Board. We are looking at ways to do this within the rules of First Milk, but rest assured that we will make these changes as quickly as possible. What we are doing right now is not sexy. We are working hard across a host of areas to grind out better net margins. But I know from other businesses I have been involved with that if you have a clear direction and deliver against set objectives, the relative position of a business will definitely improve. I wish you and your families well over the festive season.


he local representative elections will be held for the districts set out below on 26 February 2010. The Board will receive nominations of candidates for these elections addressed to: The Company Secretary, First Milk Limited, Cirrus House, Glasgow Airport Business Park, Marchburn Drive, Paisley, PA3 2SJ, to arrive no later than 3.00pm on 29 January 2010. For further information and a nomination form, please contact Nayar Hussain, legal administrator on 0141 847 6883.

Election Districts District Number District Name District 1: Kintyre, Cowal & Islands District 4: Mid Ayrshire District 6: Stranraer District 10: West Cumbria District 12: Mid & South Cumbria District 21: Gwent & Glamorgan District 23: Shrops, Montgomery & W Worcester District 25: North East Midlands District 27: Wiltshire & South Oxfordshire

Local Representative Robert Millar Willie Campbell Hugh Parker Cathryn Pritt Steve Dunning Clive Prichard Roger Evans Richard Hollingsworth Joe Collingborn

Timetable 29 January 5 February 5 February 26 February 1 March

Deadline for return of nomination forms which must be signed by at least ten members Deadline for candidates to withdraw their nomination Voting papers dispatched to members in any district where there are two or more candidates, and an election is to be held Deadline for return of voting papers/ successful candidates notified New or re-elected Local Representatives take office


People Focus

Around the Business

Paul Rowe, General Manager, Manufacturing

Communications Update

Pictured above: Mark McQuade receives the ‘Supplier of the Year’ award.

First Milk Awarded Wiseman’s ‘Supplier of the Year’


e have been awarded Wiseman Dairies ‘Supplier of the Year’ in recognition of the professionalism, responsiveness and capability of our sales team. This accolade recognises excellence across Wiseman’s supplier base. Previous winners include Clydesdale Bank who have worked with Wiseman's for over sixty years and Isoma, who have designed and developed much of the machinery for the filling lines at the company’s dairies. First Milk Executive Director, Mark McQuade, commented: “We have worked hard to understand the needs of the Wiseman business as they have evolved over the years. We are delighted to have won this award and it is testament to the hard work, flexibility and dedication of our sales team.”

Welcome to the first online edition of StraightTalk. In the November newsletter, we outlined our proposal to increase the speed and breadth of our communication with members, while minimising costs. This means that instead of relying almost exclusively on printed materials like letters, newsletters and flyers, we will be using a range of communication channels to ensure that members hear news about the business first. For instance, our chairman Bill Mustoe recorded a voice message for members earlier this month. This proved popular with several hundred members calling to hear the message. Bill has now decided that he will record a monthly message for members which will be introduced in January. Having listened to feedback from members and local representatives for a shorter, sharper newsletter, we have reduced this publication from eight pages down to four pages. This will be supplemented with a weekly news bulletin to keep you regularly updated on business information and UK/global dairy industry news. The first bulletin will be available on the ‘News’ section of the members website on Friday 8 January. In order to support these changes, we will be making greater use of text messaging, email and the ‘News’ section of the members website, which we will develop over the next couple of months. We will keep you updated on progress. Please can you inform membership services of any changes or updates to your contact details by emailing or call 0141 847 6800.

In July 2009, my role was broadened to General Manager of Manufacturing and I now lead an expanded team covering manufacturing at our cheese packing plant and specialist dairy ingredients operation near Wrexham, plus the creamery sites across the UK. I have responsibility for 450 employees, which covers just under 75% of people in the business. In addition, I recently assumed responsibility for the Safety, Health & Environmental Management across the group. My aim within this area is to raise our standards and quicken the pace at which we deliver implementation.


n response to member feedback, we have introduced a new feature which spotlights some of the key people in our business. This month, StraightTalk caught up with Paul Rowe to get an insight into his role as General Manager of Manufacturing.

Q: How long have you been with First Milk and what is your role? I joined First Milk in 2006 as General Manager of our Haverfordwest Creamery. Shortly afterwards, I was given responsibility for all of our creameries across Scotland, England and Wales.

Q: Describe a typical day in your role? The role is pretty diverse. My time is split between travelling around the UK reviewing site performance, managing a number of strategic projects and driving through plans to take costs out of the business or improve our efficiency. I am helped by the fact that we have an open and challenging culture within my team, which allows us to constantly share knowledge and best practice. I also work along with my colleagues on the Group Operations team to develop and deliver the operational strategy for the business.

"I am helped by the fact we have an open and challenging culture"

Q: What project(s) are you currently focusing on? My immediate focus is working with my team on the delivery of a range of plans to improve the profitability of our cheese division. I also have a number of longerterm strategic projects, for instance, earlier this year I worked with Tesco and the Scottish Government to secure funding for a new creamery at Campbeltown. I am still involved in the ongoing liaison with Tesco as we work through the public consultation and planning process with the local council.


First Milk Academy Embracing the benefits of First Milk Academy


ohn Gibson and his family joined First Milk in June 2009. They farm two units, 200 acres at Bostern Grange near Ashbourne in Derbyshire and 120 acres nearby at Hulland Ward. The main unit is at Bostern Grange where they keep 240 cows at 1000 feet above sea level. All dry stock and replacement heifers are kept at Hulland Ward. The cows are looked after by John, his daughter Debbie and son in law Gavin Redfern. They are milked 3 times a day and the family have targeted an average yield of 8000 litres. The cows are mainly Ayrshire and Ayrshire crosses and the family recently bought a bull at Carlisle that is ¾ Ayrshire and a ¼ red and white Holstein. The cows are housed in cubicles and are fed a T.M.R mix of silage, brewer’s grains, molasses and a nut, with a top up concentrate fed in the parlour which is currently used at 0.35kg per litre. Since joining First Milk, the family has embraced First Milk Academy with enthusiasm. They recently hosted a business club on animal nutrition but it is their attendance at the Professional Development Workshops that has made the most impact on farm. The family recently attended a 4 day course on fertility and they have since reported clear improvements.

"The course cost £80 and was worth every penny"

Workshops Coming Up The forthcoming workshops scheduled for January and February are as follows: Area Manager Samantha Price Simon Pitt Chris Godfrey Drew Robertson

Area Carmarthen South Cardiganshire Tissington Dumfriesshire

Workshop Lameness Lameness Lameness Lameness

Dates 6 January 7 January 14 January 2 February

If you are interested in attending a workshop, please contact your Area Manager.

Pictured: John Gibson (right) and Gavin Redfern (left)

“The course cost £80 and it was worth every penny for what we learned on the first day,” said Gavin. “We didn’t realise how much money we could lose by not getting the cows in to calve quickly enough,” he explained. “It was important that the three of us completed the course as we look after the cows as a team on a 3 times a day milking rotation and the workshops have helped us to align our thinking and our breeding programme is now better coordinated.” “As a result of completing the

module, we now serve our cows at 42 days instead of 60 and so far they have all held. This is an important change in our management practice and has made us realise what we have missed out on in the past,” added Gavin. First Milk Academy Business Clubs and Professional Development Workshops are well supported by young enthusiastic people who have a positive outlook and are seeking to improve what they do on farm If you would like to attend an Academy Business Club or Professional Development Workshop, please contact your area manager.

For Sale • Alfa Lavel dx tank 5000 litres • A G Maxi sawdust dispenser Contact: Mr Hinton, Monmouthshire, 01291 690293 • Bulk tank for sale 2900 litres dairycool milk tank Contact : Mr Shelley, Staffordshire, 01630 620257 • AG150 Tractor mounted sawdust dispenser, 5yrs old, good condition, Spare belt included in offer. £1500 or nearest offer.

Wanted • 70 Quattro rubber mats, latex infill, quantity of pasture mats also available £5 per mat or nearest offer. Contact: Mr Shanks, Borders, 07974 968 150 • 10000 litre Mueller eodc bulk tank complete with single phase compressors and plate cooler. Well maintained. • 18 point abreast parlour fitted with Westphalia Acr's, 200ml claw pieces, milk transfer pump, vacuum pump etc. • Stallwork in good condition, no feeders. Option to purchase whole or split. Contact: Mr Twose, 07811 207181

• FR3 Fullwood vacuum pump Contact: Mr Loake, Powys, 07536 097644 • Fullwood, Augermaster Electric Feeders or similar. Contact: Mr Jones, Chepstow, 01291 622024 or 07792 255416


First Milk Direct Deosan Offer


irst Milk Direct is delighted to announce a new offer in partnership with Deosan, which is available until 30 March 2010. Members who purchase Deosan Hoof Care Plus (20 litre) will receive a free 25kg Deosan dry bed. Deosan Hoof Care Plus is a powerful broad spectrum footbath disinfectant based on active ingredients, glutaraldehyde and quaternary ammonium compounds. Independent trials have indicated that these ingredients reduce the incidence of digital dermatitis and improve locomotion levels in dairy herds. “Lameness continues to be a major problem on dairy farms, affecting both profitability and welfare and is believed to cost the average herd over £10,000 per annum. Deosan Hoof Care Plus contains a specific blend of ingredients that are highly effective and easy to use ” said Louise Womersley of EMA and UK Agriculture with JohnsonDiversey. Deosan Dry Bed is a fine powder designed for use in all farm animal housing and combines exceptional odour neutralising and absorbency capabilities. Dry Bed can

"I now often place an order without even receiving a quotation"

absorb up to 50% of its own dry weight in moisture and it is effective on all bedding materials including straw, sawdust, wood shavings and concrete or matted cubicles. “Wet soiled bedding is a major breeding ground for the bacteria associated with a wide range of diseases in dairy cows, particularly mastitis,” advised Louise. “Deosan Dry Bed provides an effective solution which helps to maintain a drier, healthier bedding,” she added. For further information on the offer or Deosan products, please call 0800 013 3044.

New Nano Solutions Range Available with Attractive Rebates


ilco’s new Nano Solutions mastitis control product range was officially launched at the UK Dairy Event in September 2009 and has been a huge success during its initial sales promotion in October and November. The Kilco Nano Solutions range is available along with Kilco’s innovative Dairy Hygiene products and attractive rebates are available

to members. Dr Matt Miller, General Manager of Kilco, said: “The success of the teat dip product promotion completely overwhelmed us. We have had very positive feedback on the new Nano Solutions range during trials earlier this year and from farmers at the Dairy Event which was very encouraging.”

For more information on the Nano Solutions range or to locate the nearest Kilco, Emprasan or Northern Dairies supplier of dairy chemicals, please contact Nigel Hayton on 07840 550747 (Northern England & Scotland); Adrian Lawrence on 07973 956296 (Wales & Central England) or Mark Calverley on 07966 505853 (SE & SW England).

Fuel Desk Reminder


s the winter weather continues, First Milk Direct would like to remind members that heating oil can be purchased from the fuel desk along with gas oil, road diesel and a range of Shell oils. John Nairn from West Bloakhillhead Farm near Kilmarnock is a regular user of the fuel desk. “After doing a price comparison with other suppliers, it is clear that the fuel desk offers competitive prices and

within one phone call everything was arranged for me,” he said. “I am very pleased with the service from First Milk Direct and now often place an order without even receiving a quotation. Fuel is a regular purchase for farmers and I would recommend the fuel desk to other members as there are cost savings to be made,” he added. Over the last few months, there has been a significant increase in

the number of members using the fuel desk and due to high demand at this time of year, members should provide five days notice. To avoid disappointment, First Milk Direct advises members to contact the fuel desk as soon as possible. To receive an up to date quotation for your area, please call 0141 847 6816.

Win a £20 Gift Voucher!


irst Milk Direct is running a free prize draw in conjunction with The Little Cheese Shop. Any fuel orders placed between 17th December and 17th January will automatically be entered into a draw for the chance to win a £20 gift voucher to spend on our online cheese shop,

StraightTalk December  

StraightTalk December