Dairy cows being milked in a parlour© Tim Scrivener

Mole Valley Farmers are challenging farmers to add one more lactation to the average lifetime of their cows as part of their new Lifetime Dairy initiative.

The farmer-owned co-operative says the average UK cow gives 3.6 lactations, but is more profitable in later life, so this is one area dairy farmers can address to increase the profitability of their herds.

Mole Valley Farmers will be addressing bottlenecks on dairy farms as part of its Lifetime Dairy consultancy service launched at Dairy Tech 2017.

The on-farm consultation service, which uses a range of tools Mole Valley Farmers designed and built, will focus on the four main stages of a cow’s life: calf, heifer, transition cow and lactating animal, in order to identify areas for improvement.

See also: Dairy fertility targets and how to achieve them

The service will be free to about 100 farmers who sign up for the scheme, but will incur a cost, yet to be determined, for future users, in line with the value of the consultancy.

“With milk price volatility set to continue, maximising farm efficiencies, together with cow health and welfare, is paramount, so anything that can be done to increase the productive life of the herd will bring huge benefits,” said Tom Hough, head of nutrition and technical services for Mole Valley Farmers

He explains: “The 2017 [National Milk Records] figures show the average UK dairy cow achieves 3.6 lactations, so there’s room for improvement on many farms.

“The ‘Lifetime margin calculator’ shows adding an extra lactation to the UK average would bring an improvement of 32.1% in margin over purchased feed over the lifetime of the cow. In monetary terms, that’s about £1,361, while replacement rate could be reduced by 5%.”