HIGH YIELDS should not mean accepting short cow lifetimes, as there is little profit in cows which last less than three lactations.

That”s the philosophy of Andrew Sanders, whose Isle of Man herd averages 13,061kg. “We like lots of old cows,” he said.

He wants cows that last 8-10 lactations with a high average daily lifetime yield. A figure now available on NMR reports.

“Nationally, the average cow never reaches peak yield which is in fourth, fifth or sixth lactation. So many producers are missing out on a cow”s most profitable years.”

“Our oldest cow is 16 and has nine natural daughters. But if cows can”t survive on the unit they go. Our old cows are old because they have survived in the herd,” said Mr Sanders.

To ensure long lifetimes, Mr Sanders pays close attention to type selection, using mainly Dutch genetics and is a strong believer in grazing and exercise – even for high yielders – and cow comfort in winter. Diet is also important and he waits until cows are in a positive energy balance before they are served.