27 September 1996

Yield up with same cake

HIGH genetic merit cows are accelerating milk yields on many UK dairy farms without the use of extra concentrates.

That is evident from the latest Genus Milkminder figures reported at the event by director of Genus Management Tom Kelly.

He said 1995/96 saw the highest annual yield increase in 25 years – up 323 litres a cow. The lift did not come from concentrate use; it was achieved through better genetics and improved use of forage.

"This is the key to efficient milk production and the way to justify quota – not concentrates, which are a very dangerous way to get high yields," said Mr Kelly.

He used Langhill, Edinburgh studies to explain why it wasnt worth throwing extra concentrates at high merit cows when annual quota costs were anything over 10p/litre.

Top genetic merit animals fed an extra 1.6t of concentrate produced an extra 1368 litres – a response of 1.16kg/litre. That yield improvement was worth £342 a cow, but less the extra concentrates at £224, and with quota at 10p/litre taking off a further £136, any extra margin was quickly eroded to a negative £18 a cow.

"Increased concentrates and leased quota do not go together," said Mr Kelly, who stressed that it was not compulsory for high genetic merit herds to be fed more concentrates.

"In the current quota position talking about feeding more concentrates is crazy. The economics are not there. We should be thinking about making more from forage."

Genuss Tom Kelly:"Increased concentrates and leased quota do not go together.