An alternative view on winter milk production

Farmers who attend the upcoming Positive Farmers Conference in Co. Cork will be given an alternative view of winter milk production, according to Michael Murphy, one of the event organisers.

A dairy adviser from the South of England, Kay Carslaw, will give delegates a less then conventional view on winter milk production on the second day of the event, Murphy said.

“The best of his clients make a profit of £1,000 profit per cow in a good year, with cows producing 6,000-7,000L of milk each year.”

Managing costs is key on the farms Carslaw advises, with a strict focus on reproductive targets such as six-week in-calf rate, empty rate, three-year old retention and culling rate.

A strict emphasis is also placed on costs, particular the targeted cost of £100/cow.

Targeted costs/cow:
  • Veterinary costs: £50
  • AI and breeding: £15
  • Electricity: £25
  • Water: £5 (own water)
  • Diesel: £5

Murphy explained that the farms under Carslaw’s stewardship are quite different from the typical Irish winter milk herd.

95% of the cows are housed in kennels and self feeding of silage is operated on most of the farms. He has a strong view that moving silage adds considerably to the costs of running a dairy farm.

“The farms have a five month winter and due to their location they can not graze early in the year like Ireland or the west of Britain.

“But are set up to grow very good quality maize silage to use as a feed over the winter months,” Murphy added.

Another topic that the UK-based advisor will discuss is areas that dairy farmers can avoid black holes of wastage – one of which being the lose of replacements.

Murphy explained that one of the key targets operated by Carslaw is the number of live heifer calves that are back in-calf at three-years of age.

He said that the farms under Carslaw’s guidance aim to have 80% of the heifers back in-calf at three-years of age.

Another unique area is how his farmers deal with cows that fail to go in-calf and he sets a target of 50% of these cull cows to be breed once again and milked on to be sold to spring calving herds later in the year.

Murphy said that Carslaw’s talk will be thought provoking for Irish farmers as it will raise the question with many “are we over spending on the housing facilities for our spring calving herds?”

About The Positive Farmers Conference

This year’s Positive Farmers Conference will take place on Wednesday, January 11 and Thursday January 12 in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cork.

The two-day conference will cover a range of topics including changing global dynamics, effective management of farm finances, pasture first – a farm advantage and turbo charging returns to name a few.

A number of speakers will take to the podium over the two days, including Ornua’s CEO Kevin Lane, Will Grayling, Teagasc Researchers and other industry representatives.

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