Tackle falling margins on all fronts to maximise potential gains

Falling margins following recent milk price cuts should be tackled on all fronts to minimise losses and maximise potential gains, claims KW nutritionist Mark Scott.

“With most milk producers losing 10-20% of their income, what’s needed is a much more complete response to falling margins than simply trying to increase yields or cut feed inputs,” he explains.

“Properly balancing rations to optimise rumen function could improve margins by 1ppl through better feed efficiency, even if output remains the same. And switching to better value feeds will reduce costs without cutting performance – the December price for ProtoTec heat-treated rapemeal is just 15.3p/100g of rumen-bypass protein, for example, compared to 19.4p/100g for soyabean meal.”

In addition, fine tuning the ration to optimise milk fat and protein content will help maximise income from milk supply contracts for minimum cost. Improving bedding type, ventilation and milking routine – or culling cows with persistently high somatic cell counts (SCC) – could help move the herd from band B to A for bactoscan or SCC and lift milk price by another 1ppl or more, depending on contract details.

“Every 1ppl gain across 200 cows averaging 30 litres/day will generate an extra £60/day, and that more than covers the £15-20/day worth of milk lost by culling a couple of high cell count cows,” Mr Scott continues. “Plus you’ll save the cost of their feed, the cost and time spent treating mastitis, and improve access to feed and lying areas for the rest of the herd. You might not even see any change in the milk tank!

“Individually, each change will only have a small impact, but together the end result could be a substantial increase in margin. The herd will also be much more effectively set up to deal with any future challenges or opportunities that come along.”

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