27 September 1996

Make plans now to allow for shortage of quota this winter

MILK producers should be realistic about the coming winter with quota in short supply – the potential to reduce cow numbers and concentrate use should be explored.

Genus Management director Tom Kelly told visitors to the event to plan now and start taking action to stay within quota if needed.

"In a lot of cases there are extra culls on farm," said Mr Kelly. "It is probably better to dry them off and allow them to put on some weight to increase their value later."

Feed costs were higher than last year, so think about feeding less concentrate. Even high genetic cows could be managed on low concentrate systems, he claimed.

ADAS Midlands dairy consultancy manager Mark Roach advised drying off any cows that would not calve again. It was uneconomic to milk these at current quota prices. Any cows that were dried off needed to be managed in a welfare-friendly way until entering the cull scheme.

"High butterfat milk is not profitable, so design a diet to reduce milk fat and increase protein to provide extra quota litres," said Mr Roach. "Reducing inputs and cow yield is a last resort." Before reducing cow yield now also consider the next quota year.

&#8226 Dry off cull cows.

&#8226 Reduce herd size.

&#8226 Design rations to reduce milk fat.

&#8226 Improve forage use and cut cake.