How one group of farmers saw profits rise by €39,000 in four years

Dairy farmers taking part in Teagasc Glanbia Joint Development Programme saw the profitability of their enterprise rise by almost €39,000 in four years.

In a review of the programme Teagasc says inflation in agricultural prices over the 2010 to 2014 period was an estimated 25% while dairy production costs on the monitor farms increased by 13% from 20.3c/L to 23.0c/L over the same period.

Adjusted for inflation and milk price, Teagasc says the profitability of the dairy enterprise on the monitor farms increased by almost €39,000 over the period.

Eleven monitor farms were selected for intensive advice over the four-year period.

Output on the farms was influenced by milk price, Teagasc says the composition improvement alone was worth 1.613c/litre over the period, variable costs it says rose by 2.3c/L.

Across the period, net margin per hectare rose by over €750/ha through a combination of milk price increase, composition improvement (worth €193/ha), cost control and intensification.

Grass Production

Teagasc says grass grown on the milking platform increased by an average of 2.2 T DM/ha between 2010 and 2014 allowing stocking rate to be increased by approximately ½ cow per hectare.

It says this increase in grass yield was worth approximately €14,000/farm in 2014.

Up to 30% of the grassland area on monitor farms was reseeded during the course of the programme. Teagasc says regular grassland measurement led to management improvements and higher utilisation rates. Monitor farmers carried out up to 35 grass cover walks annually.

Breeding

Teagasc says progress was made in improving breeding performance on monitor farms resulting in a shorter calving interval and higher six week calving rate.

The major focus it says was on management during the breeding season with all farmers using aids to improve heat detection and records to monitor progress.

The breeding season was reduced to an average of 11 weeks and empty rate averaged less than 10% in 2014.

In future years, breeding a greater number of heavier, more fertile replacements will contribute to further improvements in reproduction and milk solids yield:

  • The EBI of replacement heifers now averages €200;
  • The number of heifers reared is 50 yearlings per 100 cows;
  • The percentage of replacements calving at 24 months of age has increased by 20% to 90%.
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