Dairy farmers are being advised to maintain fresh cow diets and avoid injudicious cost-cutting, or risk causing more damage than harm in the long term.
With the slump in demand from the food service industry during lockdown hitting the dairy industry hard, and processors demanding reduced production, milk prices are being driven down.
This is creating a temptation for dairy farmers to cut-costs, but nutritional supplement manufacturer UFAC-UK warned against short-termism and advises that cuts can be made in later lactation if fresh cows are given the best start.
Mike Chown, UFAC-UK’s ruminant technical manager, said: “In the current situation, every dairy farmer must review every item of expenditure. There are certainly times when cutting costs will pay off, but equally there are times when they will be reducing return on investment. The skill lies in making the correct calls, investing in the correct cows at the correct time.”
In simple terms, Mr Chown said that farmers should be advised to invest in cows until they are confirmed in calf, and then look to scale back on costs of production. In particular, this means providing fresh cows with sufficient energy to minimise body weight loss and promote better fertility.
He said: “The transition and early lactation period are crucial for the profitability of the current lactation, and also for the following lactation, because if cows don’t get in calf quickly the result is extended lactations, with each extra day open costing £4.50, contributing to reduced profits.”
Mr Chown said that these cows need to be fed to settle into lactation, to maintain body condition and rebreed quickly.
“A balanced fat supplement, such as Dynalac, from UFAC-UK, is ideal for these crucial cows, increasing dietary energy density to reduce body condition loss and improve overall health and fertility.”