Farmer Focus: Yield down but kilos to dairy remain the same

We are experiencing some disruption from Omicron currently, which, I think, makes us like a lot of businesses.

It has put a bit more pressure on the few that have not tested positive, but we are managing to get through and keeping things ticking over.

I have heard that some fertiliser prices may have eased back towards the £600/t mark with the fall in the gas price.

But time will tell if the fertiliser companies can pass on that lower cost or if they start production of any consequence in the early part of the year. Fingers crossed on both counts.

See also: How herd genomics can help lift milk solids

About the author

Patrick Morris-Eyton
Livestock Farmer Focus writer
Patrick farms 650 Swaledales bred to New Zealand Highlander tups and 350 predominantly Aberfield ewes put to Primeras and Aberfields across 250ha plus common fell grazing with parents Robert and Rowena near Millom, West Cumbria. The farm runs a 250-head Holstein herd averaging 10,000 litres supplying Arla and a Hydro Power and building business, Beckside Construction.
Read more articles by Patrick Morris-Eyton

If they don’t, there could be some huge yield penalties across all agricultural sectors. Could this have a long-term positive effect on the prices UK farmers receive, if food globally is in slightly short supply?

The cows are currently enjoying the best fertility performance I think we have ever had.

The conception rate to first service hit 51% following last week’s scanning session, which, for the 21-day service period, gave us a pregnancy rate of 43.4% (UK average is 20%).

We are putting this down to having had a good, settled ration and sacrificing a couple of litres (to average about 35 litres a cow a day). However, our milk solids are slightly higher, at 4.5% butterfat and 3.4% protein.  

This has meant we have continued to send the same kilos of milk solids as we did when the cows were producing at a higher yield.

As we get paid for solids, it’s a no-brainer, especially with feed prices where they are currently.

The ewes have all headed back to the fell until early February, when they will be back in for pregnancy scanning. Before they went, they had a fluke dose and were body condition scored.

They were consistently 3.5 or more.

We also counted the ewes that were marked as mated in the second cycle. It looks like less than 8% of the ewes failed to hold in the first cycle, which is what we are looking for.

For the past three years this figure has been consistently less than 10%, so hopefully, come scanning time, there will be good news.

Farmers Weekly Awards 2022

Enter or nominate now