An ambition to increase milk fat and protein yields towards a combined target of 1000kg is driving a new dairy farming initiative led by Premier Nutrition.

The 1000kg Club is helping its farmer members to build knowledge, share experiences and compare their progress, with a long-term aim to enable farms to supply any UK milk contract profitably.

“It’s a challenging target and only exceptionally healthy and well-managed animals are able to achieve these high levels of production,” says Dr Andrew Pine, Premier Nutrition’s ruminant director.

“Animal welfare and nutrition are at the heart of it, with club members and their advisers looking to fine tune all areas of herd management, using our Transition Management System (TMS) as a barometer for improvements. Advisers will also be able to help other farmers, drawing on what we learn.”

Speaking at a virtual launch event for the new initiative, Dr Mike Hutjens, dairy extension specialist at the University of Illinois, shared details about the top herd in Illinois, which averages 1171kg of combined fat and protein.

“The herd has high genetic merit, excellent cow comfort and good staff, following practical operating procedures, as well as targeted and balanced nutrition,” he said. “While the cows are working very hard, fertility remains excellent.”

Dr Hutjens calculated that every 0.1 increase in feed efficiency can make savings of around 30p per day, assuming 32kg milk produced and a cost of 19p per kg dry matter.

Within the group, farmers are looking to achieve a herd average of 1000kg of combined fat and protein in 305 days. Currently the top 25% of UK herds are averaging 794kg of components, from a total milk yield of more than 11,000kg.

The next scheduled 1000kg Club meeting is at the end of June.