Farmers can get an instant, visual indication of the financial benefit of making farm specific management changes, thanks to a new Lifetime Dairy app from Mole Valley Farmers.

The app forms part of the farmer-owned business’ Lifetime Dairy initiative – a consultation-style service aimed at helping producers identify farm bottlenecks and increase the profitability of their herds.

By inputting key farm information into the unique ‘Lifetime Margin Calculator’ on the app, the nationwide team of Lifetime specialists can compare performance with the national average and top 25% of farms for margin over purchased feed (MOPF).

This is clearly visualised on a graph, which highlights the point where a cow pays back her initial rearing investment, based on MOPF for the lifetime of that animal. The calculator uses the latest figures from NMR, AHDB Dairy and Promar, along with heifer rearing costs produced by The Royal Veterinary College and AHDB Dairy.

Various ‘what if’ scenarios can be played out to demonstrate the potential impact of making performance tweaks in certain areas, as business development and technical manager, Rachel Smithyman explains.

“For example, we can ask; what would happen if the milk price dropped by 3ppl? or what would happen if you changed age at first calving? Equally, we can challenge farmers on their system template and ask if they could improve things by re-assessing their business model,” she says.

Replacement rate is one key area to consider as this effects how long an animal stays in the herd and directly impacts efficiencies and profitability.

For example, the ‘Lifetime Margin Calculator’ shows that if you drop the replacement rates by 1% from the NMR 2017 average of 26%, you get an extra two productive months and produce 7.6% more MOPF over a cow’s lifetime.

Rachel says it’s all about identifying the ‘big wins’ on farm, which can make a big difference to profitability. The Lifetime specialists can then undertake a detailed farm appraisal. Depending on the individual farm challenges identified through the app, this could look in detail at one or all of the four stages covered by Lifetime Dairy; the calf, the heifer, the transition cow and the lactating animal.

By asking specific questions about management at each of these stages, the team can offer more specific advice on where gains in efficiencies can be made. This is supported by a range of innovative products and services designed to increase the productive life of the cow and farm profit margins.

“After the appraisal has been carried out, we can then put in place short, medium and long-term goals and review performance to see if targets have been met and if not, why?” adds Rachel.