Dairy margins could potentially rise 32.1% or £1361 per cow, if producers achieved an extra lactation from their cows, which in turn would also see replacement rates fall 5%.

These were just a few good news stories from Tom Hough, head of nutrition and technical services with Mole Valley Farmers' who said there is huge room for improvement on many farms going by 2017 NMR figures that show the average UK dairy cow achieves just 3.6 lactations.

Add to that the fact that a previous AHDB report on heifer rearing revealed only 23% of dairy farmers achieve profit during first lactation and he said some units could see huge improvements.

As a result of the problems within the sector, Mr Hough told producers attending the recent Dairy-Tech event in Stoneleigh, Mole Valley Farmers have introduced a initiative to identify bottlenecks and increase the profitability of dairy herds.

Lifetime Dairy, a consultation-style service, looks at the four main stages of the cow’s life – the calf, the heifer, the transition cow and the lactating animal. By asking specific questions about management at each of the four main stages, the Mole Valley Farmers team can offer advice on where gains in efficiencies can be made on an individual farm. This is supported by a range of innovative products and services designed to increase the productive life of the cow and farm profit margins.

“We ask questions about key business drivers such as; could you reduce age at first calving? is calving interval under control? is the dry period well managed? could culling rate be reduced? and when do your cows break even?" said Mr Hough.

Utilising a range of tools, including the ‘Lifetime margin calculator,’ farmers are able to clearly see the financial benefits from making specific management tweaks, with their performance benchmarked against the national average.

For example, reducing age at first calving to 24 months from the current national average of 27.6 months, would bring a £312.83 per animal saving.

By tweaking performance at every stage of the cow’s life, Mr Hough said farmers would be rewarded with healthy, long-lived cows.

He also said all farmers could benefit from getting a fresh pair of eyes to look in detail at business performance and identify areas that will ultimately increase the productive life of the cow.

“With milk price volatility set to continue, maximising farm efficiencies, together with cow health and welfare, is paramount, so anything that can be done to increase the productive life of the herd will bring huge benefits.”