A little science, some dairy, and the Jet Stream

Sometimes when I sit down to write its difficult to actually decide what parts of my day have been the most interesting.

I guess with so many flood alerts in place, and the absolutely torrential rain giving me reason to venture out as little as possible its only fair that the weather actually gets a meantion today. In fact I’ve actually done a little reading up on this today as I am curious as to just what affects the weather… Suprisingly I actually found that there wasn’t really an answer as its such a relatively new area of science.

One of the things that I found affects the weather is the Jet Stream, generally this is a high power fast flowing wind miles above the earth where the cold and warm air meets. If you picture it as a line around the globe, north of this line is cooler, and south of this is warm. If the line is north of us, we get good weather, and if it south then we get cold and wet weather. This line is usually continually moving and shifting however the past month of so appears to have stayed south of the UK, in fact its suprisingly similar to the way the movement of the streat stopped during the 2007 floods. Some things science still has yet to understand and this is one of them…

Now a little lesson about dairy and just where that plastic carton of milk in your fridge comes from. Recently whilst everything is going up in price dairy farmers are facing a pay cut from the processors who take the food from them. I’ve read my dairy production notes for reference and to give you some interesting stats…

  • In 1950 there were 196,001 dairy farms in the UK, in 2002 this had dropped to 25,548
  • It takes 4 litres of water for every 1 litre of milk produced.
  • The average Holsein cow produces around 8710 litres of milk a year.

Now between 1996 and 2000 the price dairy farmers got paid dropped from 25pence a litre down to 17 pence a litre. The average price of milk dropped to 17.22p in 2002/03 whilst it actually cost 18.33p to produce causing 60% of dairy holdings to fail to cover their costs. In  Belguim in 2009 Dairy Farmers dumped millions of litres onto fields in protest at the prices being unsustainable. Sadly today I can see the same thing happening in the UK, people want animals to be happy, yet dairy farmers with this price cut are losing nearly £348.40 a year for every single cow. With the rising costs in 2002/03 in order to be sustainable dairy herds had to have at least 100 cows so across 100 cows this is a loss of £34,840.

High quality feed, veterinary care, and facilities are crucial to ensuring animal welfare in the UK, and that is before adding on labour costs. With this massive cut in the price paid to dairy farmers these are all going be compromised. One of the major problems within the dairy industry has always been the excess profits further up the chain. For example today Asda is selling a pint of milk at 49p, 1 litre is 1.76pints so for a litre that is 86p. From this farmers are only paid around 25p/litre when in fact it costs them on average 30p/litre to produce.

Dairy farmers in Belguim dump millions of litres of milk onto fields

When i first started learning this I was amazed at high the UK standards of welfare for dairy cattle actually are. Lets not compromise that and get the UK Government to make sure that there is a sustainable dairy industry within the UK!

I feel it only right that I should give a quick update on Lennox… It is not the courts decision after all but that of Belfast City Council. They are currently planning to euthanise Lennox at 7am on Tuesday morning despite massive international pressure, and calls from the First Minister. Personally I believe it is a foolish move in a democratic society to refuse to listen to the people, you can read more here: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/first-minister-peter-robinsons-plea-for-death-row-dog-lennox-16183050.html


P.S. Biggest education lesson today was the exploding bullock in All Creatures Great and Small… Methane gas is extremely flamable and flames should be avoided.

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