Skinny Milk Project Helps Farmers Improve Performance Through Lean Management

The Skinny Milk project was set up to provide farmers with a new lean management based approach to explore the potential for ongoing improvement and to stimulate positive changes on the farms that participated.

Facilitated by Hamish Walls of SAOS, it involved a group of participants with experience of project management, dairy farming and lean management, together with the Milk Suppliers Association (MSA) co-operative of 128 dairy farmers. The aim was to pilot the use of lean management techniques on 30 dairy farms based in South West Scotland. Out of the 30 farms that participated, 26 said that they would be implementing changes to improve business performance.

The project noted two key recommendations for improvement:

• First, the implementation of new financial recording systems. This will ensure a foundation for rational and informed decision making to prioritise and implement ongoing improvements based on financial returns.

• The second area of recommendations covered changes to operational practices to make productivity gains or efficiency savings, for example make better silage, reduce purchase feed, reduce machinery and power costs etc. Potential gains of 6.6 pence per litre (ppl) were identified. Even if only half of these gains were realised across the 30 participating farmers, it represents a benefit of £2.3million.

There was some very interesting work undertaken by SAOS and the Project’s participants. Hamish Walls commented: “Farmers would see great benefit if they produced regular management accounts. Sound financial recording systems backed by regular family ‘board’ meetings enable farming families to understand how their businesses are doing and what changes might be made to improve performance. Often as not, a problem shared, is a problem solved.  We would thoroughly recommend taking a look at some of the project’s case studies through the following link”:

SAOS managed the Skinny Milk Project which was awarded a 100% grant through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund. This is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union.

You can download the full report here: KTIF Skinny Milk Project Report – Final July 2019