2020 new year new me and all that jazz, most of my new year resolutions out the window by week two hopefully you guys have done a better job than me!
One resolution I think should be important this year is using the data you have available to progress your farms and using those figures to make a difference in your businesses.
Having that 20:20 vision.
Dairy farming and milk production
Firstly, for a dairy farm let’s start by looking at the milk contracts, what is it they actually want you to produce?
What will they pay the most for and how we can accommodate to maximise that pence per litre? You may want to drive the litres, but would you be paid more to drive more butterfat or protein? Or vice versa. Or perhaps it would pay to have a slight knock in the price for quality but gain those extra litres and create a better overall milk cheque? I know we all want a Butterfat of 5% and Protein of 3.8% and an average daily yield of 40 litres but let’s face it the cows usually just can’t provide all of this.
Beef prices have been draining, to say the least, hopefully, this year we will see a movement in the price paid per kg. But how heavy do the slaughterhouses want the animals? I have heard horror stories of sending fat bullocks to slaughter and being docked because they are too heavy. Getting them there before they are over 28 months to stop that reduction on your hard-earned money. If your regularly producing fat animals above age speak to your nutritionist for some advice.
Now let’s think about our youngstock.
The next generation to our farms. The 3 Qs of feeding colostrum: Quantity, Quality and Quickly. The Recommendation is to give 3 litres or 10% of body weight within the first 2 hours of birth. Although some colostrum looks ‘Good Quality’ with the thick orange colour, you just can’t go by looks as unfortunately, the appearance isn’t a sign of colostrum quality. Using a colostrometer or Brix refractometer or colostrum balls to ensure the calves are getting the best possible start. As part of the ‘Focus Team’, we provide calf weighing, Kyrin or I can come to your farms regularly and weigh your calves to monitor the Daily Live weight gain to indicate how the calves are growing and if there is anything that can be improved on to help with calving them down at 2 years old. We can also do this for your beef animals to monitor their growth rates to indicate any problems quicker. Below is a table from AHDB for a herd with the average mature body weight of 660kg for dairy calves.
Another service the Focus Team provides id Locomotion Scoring. Kyrin and I are both ROMS registered. Milk companies are beginning to ask for these results, but why not use them as it’s brilliant data to manage the lameness in your herds. When you’re seeing the same group of animals every day you become blind to problems, it becomes the ‘norm’. Having someone who doesn’t see your animals every day to come in, not knowing the herd to have an honest report on the lameness and body condition of your animals is really useful. Lameness is considered the 3rd most economically important health issue on farm after fertility and mastitis. Lameness can also lead to other herd health problems, mastitis, metabolic illnesses and fertility problems due to impeded mobility and behaviour. A lameness case cost on average around £180 per case (AHDB website).
Kyrin or I can score the cows regularly and can use whichever scoring system you prefer ie Zinpro 1-5, AHDB 0-3 or Arla 0-2. We will present you with a report with each cows score, the percentage of lameness in the herd and can create the report bespoke to you herd, for example, we can create a foot trimming list or monitor the herds results over time. By using these results, you can pick up cows you might not have looked at before for prevention trimming and prevent them from becoming very lame which is where you see a bigger reduction in yield and fertility.
As a Focus Team we also provide the following:
Costings – Looking monthly at your farm costings monitoring where you are and putting into place actions so you can be where you want to be.
Interherd or Dairy Comp 305 – monthly or quarterly, providing you with excellent data to work from.
Body Condition Scoring – Looking at the effects parts of the lactation can cause to body weight change.
So make your 2020 the year of 20:20 vision by looking at the data on your farm.
“You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure”