With many dairy units now looking to turn out cows as soon as possible to help boost margins, nutritional supplement manufacturer UFAC-UK said that farmers should be focused on ensuring cows perform to their optimum to get the best returns, rather than cutting corners.
Mike Chown, UFAC-UK’s technical ruminant manager, said that to promote efficient use of grass to support healthier and more productive cows, and therefore higher margins, investment rather than cost cutting is the best strategy.
He said: “Rather than asking what savings can be made by making cuts, flip the coin and consider what returns might be achieved from carefully selected feed inputs.
“Perhaps more pertinently, you should ask yourself ‘how much do I risk losing if I cut something out?’, the answer invariably is that the potential loss will far exceed any saving.”
Mr Chown advised farmers to focus on what they want the cows to achieve, and consider how they can harness seasonality benefits alongside the nutritional supplementation required to support grazing, if they are to maximise the price received from contracts and increase margins.
“While undoubtedly turning cows out can help reduce costs, we want cows to graze efficiently and to milk in a way that can achieve those best returns, through a combination of good quality milk and hitting the profile,” he said.
“We also need to increase the prospects of keeping the cows on profile in the future, which means getting back in calf.”
Mr Chown said that it requires a change of mindset and strategy in the selection of feed inputs this spring, with the need to address limiting factors, such as grass nutritional value and supply, when cows are turned out.
“Will you get the performance you desire by cutting feeds costs or feeding cheap feeds? I doubt it,” he said.
“The chances of achieving the required level of performance will come from feeding the right feeds for your situation, and working on return on investment, rather than price.”