6 December 1996

Cost cutting recipe

REDUCING overheads and improving grazing management has cut milk production costs by 3p/litre in the last six-months on one Devon dairy unit.

Mary Quicke from Exeter is now half-way to meeting her target milk production costs of 12p/litre for her £53 PIN herd.

The herd – previously on rotational set stocking and fed 12t of silage a cow a year with grazed grass as only 16% of the ration – had been averaging 8186 litres a cow off 1.72kg concentrates. Margins over purchased feed were 24p/litre and £1964 a cow.

But this summer cows were rotationally grazed properly, she said. By taking regular grass measurements using a rising plate meter, grazed grass could be rationed giving control over all the components of the diet.

"Rotationally grazed grass is cheaper and higher in quality than silage, and we have had high intakes even from autumn grass."

Grazing rotationally gave a clear picture of sward performance, and enormous growth rate acceleration was seen between 2400 and 3000kg/ha which never happened on set stocked fields.

"Our new target is to produce 8000 litres off 1t of concentrate and 8t of silage," she said.

"But first I want to know, from researchers, how far we can push high genetic merit cows before they milk their own backs right off. We didnt buy into genetics to lock ourselves into expensive milk."

Mary Quickes target is to produce 8000 litres from 1t of concentrate and 8t of silage to help reduce production costs to 12p/litre.


&#8226 Cut unnecessary overheads.

&#8226 Improve grazing control.

&#8226 Reduce reliance on silage.