6 December 1996

PIN values and quota

HIGHER merit cows are more valuable than those of low merit with or without quota.

With quota, a cow with a PIN of £5 was worth £79 a year less due to reduced efficiency and output than one with a £100 PIN, said Seamus Crosse of Irelands dairy research centre Moorepark, Co Cork. Without quota, the difference increased to £154.

"Securing a higher index takes time but breeding for higher PINs will increase profits," said Dr Crosse. He considered two breeding options for a herd averaging £2 PIN, starting with bulls at either £70 or £118 PIN, and increasing the PIN of these bulls over time.

In 20 years, the lower breeding goal herd would have reached £87 PIN and the herd with the higher breeding goal £123 PIN. In this time, milk yield would have increased by 26% and 36% respectively. But the higher merit herd had more scope to decrease cow numbers, give cows the forage they needed and to reduce capital costs.

At todays values, following the higher breeding goal would earn a 100-cow herd £1113 a year more than the lower breeding goal herd over the next 20 years, he said.

"Higher merit cows increase farm profit potential and the benefits are higher in a non-quota situation," he said. "We need to improve the quality of our cows to give us an edge over competitors."

However, Dr Crosse warned that if the production system had to change, incurring additional variable and fixed costs to keep the higher merit cows, the benefits could be eroded. And skills needed for managing very high merit stock could also be higher.

than for lower merit animals.

The benefits of keeping high-merit cows could be eroded ifn the production system became more expensive, warned Dr Seamus Crosse.