Keep a continuous eye on your farm improvements

By Nigel Davies

The latest Milkminder herds report indicates a continual improvement in efficiency for the 12 months to January 2018, when compared to January 2017, with the average herd increasing yield per cow to 26.7 litres per day, and yield from forage per cow to 6.8 litres per day.

Despite this positive trend, I encourage you to continually set performance targets to influence on-going and future performance.

Setting informed targets using data from previous months and years, and then adjusting them with an informed eye on overall profit is a beneficial management tool that will help ensure they’re still realistic in light of seasonal factors.

For example, the diagram below refers to an almost 10% difference in feed rates for the national Milkminder sample between April 2016 and April 2017.

April feed rate kg/litre
April feed rate kg/litre for 2016 and 2017.

If April was a consistent month year-on-year, it would be appropriate for the average herd to aim for a feed rate less than 0.29 kg per litre for the month of April this year.

However, such a simplified target is likely to need re-thinking, factoring in the potential impact that the late spring could have on the optimum time for the first cut, first cut quantity and quality, variable grazing platforms, and many other aspects that will affect cashflow.

Taking this into account, climatic challenges may mean that the optimum feed rate needs to be higher than for the same month last year. Nonetheless, the business should still have a pro-active target to aim for.

This is especially critical in a scenario where conditions are more challenging, and particularly so for such potentially variable months as of April.