13 August 1999

Key targets to rein em in

REDUCING vet costs, questioning the need for milk recording, and parlour self-maintenance are key areas for saving.

These were identified at the discussion group meeting.

Vets visit the farm fortnightly during the autumn calving herds six- to eight-week service period. Total vet and medicine costs are 0.7p/litre, with all animals scanned to confirm pregnancy.

The group suggested vet costs might be halved by improving heat detection and only scanning the first batch of served cows.

But savings in other areas might also be possible – 1p/litre is spent on breeding, AI and milk recording. As milk recording cost the herd £2500 a year, one member of the group asked herd owner, Simon Martin, why he recorded.

"Initially it was because we planned to sell pedigree heifers and they make higher prices with milk records. But we often have the debate and cant always justify the expense," he said.

Younger, cheaper bulls would lead to savings, agreed group members.

Dropping milk recording and changing the bull policy could save the farm a further 0.5p/litre, said Mr White.

Other savings related to fixed costs. One group member reported that he had cut his insurance by a third by competitive tendering, while another saved 23% on his electricity by changing supplier. On this basis the unit could save about £1600 a year on insurance and electricity.

DIY milking parlour maintenance accounted for the highest potential savings. One group member is saving £6600 a year through sourcing parlour parts and doing his own maintenance. &#42