Producing more milk from less cows: is it possible?
In 2019-2020, the MDF planned to improve profitability by consuming 10% more grass from the farm, with 5% less cows, and 17% more milk produced per cow. If it works, it must make more profit: more of the cheaper feed, less feed wasted on cow maintenance requirements, and less non-feed cow costs. The feed margin alone (with no milk price factored in) was planned to be 28% higher, or $160,000 more for the year.
Practically, the targets mean more grass grown, with very careful allocation and grass quality management, so that the cows actually consume the extra grass. We set monthly targets for milker numbers, grass consumption per hectare, grass per cow, milk per cow, and feed margin. We have missed the Spring targets, but are now very close to the December targets. After a dip in grass consumption and milk per cow, both have lifted again. Grass consumption is about the same as last year, but MS per cow now is 1.99 kg, compared to 1.82 kg this time last year.
Milk per cow does not need to fall continually after peak. It can be kept fairly level over time, and in fact, most cows will lift after a drop in production, if fed to do it. Our milk lift is coming from more grass intake per cow, and better quality grass. High grass intake needs high quality grass; together a powerful lift in energy intake. More of the current paddocks being grazed have been topped and some paddocks are on their second grazing after a topping. Often grass quantity on offer at the first grazing after a topping is reduced, i.e. thin on tillers. If a paddock had built up tall grass, and/or a high residue, and/or was very seed-heady, prior to topping, the daughter tiller buds at the base of the plant are reduced. Both shading and seed-heads suppress tiller bud initiation. So, it can take a couple of grazings after a topping to get full tiller density back.
The average grazing rest of the previous 5 paddocks was 28 days but the average for the next 5 paddocks will be 33 days.
The report table tells us a great deal, but not everything, that is happening on the farm. It tells us if we are getting a high return from the three main investments: the land, the feed (grass and concs), and the herd. Efficient use of all three must be high to achieve a high feed margin. Other inputs such as water and fertiliser are also important. Fertiliser is not currently expensive by historical standards. Grain is down $30 per tonne, a nice help to the margin
Happy Christmas and a strong quality grass growing and consuming New Year
|FEED MARGIN PERFORMANCE||TEN DAYS AGO||THIS TEN DAYS||Units|
|Ten days to date:||10-Dec-19||20-Dec-19|
|Milker graze area||71||71||Ha|
|Average graze rest time||33||33||Days|
|Estm’d pasture consmp’n||51||51||kg DM/ha/day|
|Pasture consum’d per cow||12.3||12.3||kg DM/cow/day|
|Pasture growing spend||$5.98||$5.98||$/ha/day|
|Estm’d pasture price||$117||$117||$/T DM|
|Conc (incl additives)supp fed/cow||5.9||5.9||kg DM/cow/day|
|Conc (incl additives)supp avg price||$517||$483||$/T DM|
|Hay/silage supp fed/cow||0.0||0.0||kg DM/cow/day|
|Hay/silage supp price||$/T DM|
|Feed Conversion Efficiency||111||110||kg MS/tonne DM|
|Total feed intake/cow||18.0||18.0||kg DM/cow/day|
|NDF Fibre in diet||33.1%||33.5%||% NDF|
|Milk Solids per cow||2.01||1.99||kg/cow/day|
|Milk price (less levies)/kg MS||$6.54||$6.53||$/kg MS|
|Milk price (less levies)/litre||$0.48||$0.48||$ per litre|
|All feed cost/cow||$4.46||$4.26||$/cow/day|
|Margin over all Feed/cow||$8.72||$8.74||$/cow/day|
|MOAF /ha /day||$36.34||$36.45||$/ha/day|
|Farm MOAF per DAY||$2,580||$2,588||$/day|