10 November 1995

Forward planning helps margins beat the target

Improved milk from forage has helped secure an extra margin a cow on two dairy units that is well in excess of the £40 margin a cow target set in a Genus Consultants Challenge.

Jessica Bussreports

PLANNING ahead and feeding quality concentrates has helped one Leicestershire unit increase margin over purchased feed by £154 a cow (net of milk price increase) in 12 months.

The initial challenge for brothers David and Roger Jackson was to increase margin by £40 a cow for the 90-cow herd at Manor Farm, Barton-in-the-Beans, Nuneaton. They found this was easily achievable when local Genus consultant Max Sealy gave them confidence to push ahead by producing a forward budget.

"The budget and cash flow gave us physical and financial targets, and showed us how the money spent on quota would pay off," says David Jackson.

In the past few years cow yields had dropped from 5800 litres to 5300 litres due to lack of quota. But last year quota was bought and leased, allowing yields to be increased.

The Jacksons cows calve from October onwards after their winter cereals are sown. "Calving in October also fits with the winter feeding. By the time there are a group of fresh calvers they can have a full ration with 65% maize silage," says David Jackson. "But winter calving makes it more difficult to plan quota because most of the production is towards the quota year end."

They felt the herd had potential for higher yields and decided this was a better way forward than increasing cow numbers. But quota costs kept concentrate use a litre low.

Mr Sealy advised feeding higher quality straights. This meant feeding 3kg soya with the forage, instead of 1kg molasses, 2kg soya, 2kg maize gluten and 0.25kg fish, and also offering a sugar beet pulp and wheat distillers mix in the parlour.

The old parlour was replaced in the summer of 1994 and new feeders installed. This gave the Jacksons the opportunity to feed cows to yield individually and accurately using the computerised control unit. This is in addition to concentrates fed outside in a mixed ration.

Concentrates are fed in parlour because there is a wide range of genetic potential in the herd which would be difficult to match with a total mixed ration alone, claims David Jackson.

"Now we have individual cow memory for the parlour feeders the cows get the right amount whoever milks," he says. &#42


12 months rolling toJune 94June 95

Cows in herd8991

Stocking rate LSU/ha2.432.37


Yield from forage22052850

Milk price21.7823.57

Conc kg/litre0.260.24

Conc kg/cow13871499

Conc £/t123136

Margin over purchased feed: