The ideal cow for Ireland post quota is a crossbred cow preferably F8J8 (50% friesian 50% jersey) weighing 450-500kg in live weight, according to Malcom Ellis, who was speaking at a recent Captal Farm’s Open Day.

The New Zealand farmer, who also works for LIC Ltd, said this cow is also efficiently producing her own live weight in milk solids (1kg of milk solids per 1kg of live weight) from grazed grass with some supplementation at the shoulders of the grazing season.

A good measure of efficiency in Malcolm’s view is KgMS/cow produced per Kg live weight/cow as there is a vast difference in producing 450 KgMS from a 450 Kg LW cow than from a 650 Kg LW cow, the 650 Kg LW cow needs to be offered over 3/4 tonne of dry matter more than the 450 Kg LW cow to do the same production. I believe this mix in the breed make up is needed to cover your fixed cost’s that you have in Ireland which is a point of difference from New Zealand and give a super balance on volume, solids and fertility.

He also said that many farmers can make more money from producing less milk. “Farmers are generally very focussed on increasing production but the danger is that they lose control of the cost incurred to achieve the increase, there needs to be a higher awareness of margins. Producing milk at a cost of 30c/L might work when you get paid 40c/L but if the pay-out comes back to 32 cents/litre then this leaves very little margin. In this case the answer is often to produce less milk at much lower cost.”

Using his own farm as an example, Malcolm said that they aim for a cost of $2.80 and in 2014 it will be in around $3/KgMS, currently the payout in NZ will be around $8.60/KgMS which means they have a very healthy margin.

The average NZ farmer now has a cost of production of nearly $5/KgMS and there are many farmers well in excess of this, if (or more accurately, when) the payout drops back to $5.50 to $6/KgMS there will be a large number of NZ farmers struggling but Malcolm knows that on his own farm they will still be returning enough margin to meet their obligations.

Malcolm urges farmers to become more aware of LW/Ha, production/KgLW and Profit/Ha, this will lead farmers to choosing the right cow and the right system for their situation. Your business philosophy is key make plans and stick to them.