Good husbandry and feeding could extend the productive lifespan of organic dairy cows by an extra lactation over their conventional counterparts.
This was the message from Derbyshire-based organic feed manufacturer Hi Peak Feeds at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show. The company produced data to demonstrate the gain of an additional lactation across a 120-head organic herd increases profitability in the region of £10,000 a year.
Hi Peak Feeds managing director, Mr Proctor said organic livestock farming is about achieving longer lifestyles by adopting feeding and husbandry techniques more attuned to the natural instincts of the animal, from which achieving a greater number of lactations is a natural progression. This is also far more cost-effective, he adds.
“For conventional dairy, the average cull comes before the forth lactation, which to us signifies a considerable loss because cows are sold as barren before producing the crucial milk revenue from forth and fifth lactations,” said Mr proctor. “And although organic replacement rates should be better, there is undoubtedly some way to go.”
By achieving five rather than four lactations, organic producers can expect the best part of £2500 more milk sales from the cow during her lifetime, said Mr Proctor. “Taking other relevant factors into account and allowing for the greater write-off period, the longer living animal gives an annual income of £84, equating to over £10,000 for a typical 120-cow herd.”
Hi Peak Foods stressed a balanced diet as the most influential factor in extending longevity, claiming nutrition as the basis upon which a cow can readily conceive at the same time as she is expected to give peak performance and still maintain good body condition.