THERE has been improved efficiency in Milkminder-recorded dairy herds for the 12 months to January 2018, compared to 2017 figures, as the average herd increased its yield per cow to 26.7 litres per day, with yield from forage up to 6.8 litres per cow per day.

These figures are positive, but Promar's national consultancy manager, Nigel Davies, advises dairy business 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,” he explained.

“For example, the diagram (main image) refers to an almost 10% difference in feed rates for the national Milkminder sample between April, 2016, and April, 2017. If April was a consistent month year-on-year, it would be appropriate for the average herd to aim for a feed rate somewhat less than 0.29 kg per litre for the month of April this year.”

However, he points out that 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 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,” said Nigel. “This is especially critical in a scenario where conditions are more challenging, and particularly so for such potentially variable months as April.”

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