Know How / Dairy / Assessing performance

Dairying is a demanding business and it’s important to know the technical and economic key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess whether you are realising a good enough margin for the labour units, land, and working capital used by the business.

We look at a range of criteria suggested by advisers and working for progressive farmers to evaluate herd fertility, health, milk production and profit.

Key parameters are explored, from pregnancy rate to milk solids yield and cost per litre, providing relevant insights no matter what system you run.

Case studies

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How to assess cow efficiency with liveweight measurement

Top producing cows make €750 (£660) more than less efficient animals, a Teagasc project has found. County Waterford spring calver Oli O’Gorman was one of the farmers within the Deise…


How once-a-day milking can be as profitable as twice

When Liam and Catherine Millerick read that once-a-day milking could be as profitable as twice a day, inspired by the lifestyle benefits, it didn’t take them long to start researching…


Irish Economic Breeding Index helps improve dairy cow fertility

Fertility is improving in Ireland’s largely block-calving dairy industry despite tough growing seasons and ambitious herd expansion plans since milk quotas ended in 2015. The average national calving interval has…


How UK herd achieved world top 10 ranking for milk yield

While many farmers are moving to grass-based systems to lower costs, one family farm in Shropshire has decided to do the complete the opposite in order to future-proof their dairy…


Focus on fertility and forage lifts dairy cow performance

Young farmer James Evans has turned his family dairy business around by driving a vision based on focus, fertility and forage. In the past five years, through focusing on the…


Dorset farmer sets up joint venture and overhauls dairy

It takes a brave man to sell more than a century’s worth of pedigree Holstein breeding, let alone put his faith in a 21-year-old to completely overhaul the family farm,…

Practical advice

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4 tips on improving your lifetime daily yield in dairy herds

There has been a rise in lifetime daily yield for a fifth consecutive year, the University of Reading’s ninth annual key performance indicator report of 500 NMR recorded dairy herds…


Tips on dealing with tight cashflow as dairy margins tighten

With input costs rising and a number of milk processors announcing cuts to farmgate prices, dairy farm margins are being squeezed yet again. Many producers will be hoping there won’t…


4 ways to use milking data to drive profitability

Many dairy farmers have access to a wealth of data at their fingertips, but they are not exploiting it to its full value to help drive improvements in herd productivity…


Glossary: terms used in dairy fertility data

There’s a bewildering array of terms used for benchmarking fertility. As data becomes more important in achieving efficiency, many of the words and phrases used may be misinterpreted or are…


What is the ideal DM to milk solids ratio?

Producing 1kg of milk solids (MS) from 10kg DM of used pasture should be a target for everyone striving for a robust spring-calving system, according to research from Teagasc, Ireland’s…


5 tips from dairy farmers for reducing costs

Dairy producers faced a colossal drop in milk price in 2016, with prices plummeting to less than 12p/litre for some. Herefordshire dairy producer Andrew Giles admitted it was challenging to…


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6 key factors influencing dairy herd profitability

The importance of maintaining a long-lived herd by keeping cows healthy and reducing deaths are key to profitability during periods of milk price volatility. Referencing benchmarking data from 65 US…


How top dairy herds cut operating costs in 2016

The best-performing dairy business that made a profit in the low payout year of 2016 managed to reduce their operating expenses by 4p/litre on average, with feed costs being hammered…


How to increase grazed grass without incurring extra costs

As we approach turnout and grazing opportunities for more profit, it is essential we all understand why there is so much value and profit in planning and using grazed grass. News…


Areas to focus on to improve dairy efficiency

Focusing on efficiency measures rather than cost-cutting should be the objective to establish what is eating away at your profits. The last thing dairy farmers will want to be told…


The costs to consider before increasing milk output

Dairy farmers considering pushing for output just because the milk price is starting to rise are being warned to beware of the additional costs involved.  According to independent dairy consultant…