Free dairy tool assesses herd efficiency instantly

Dairy farmers could benefit from a free online tool that will give an instant assessment of herd efficiency and carbon footprint on farm.

The Alltech Dairy “What If” Tool will allow farmers to test the effect of changing production targets on their bottom line profitability as well as their environmental performance, simply by entering seven key variables.

Dairy ‘What If’ Tool key facts

  • Farmers input seven key variables- cow numbers, farm size, milk yield, calving index, replacement rates, feed use and heifer first calving age
  • Provides instant assessment of herds financial and environmental performance

Speaking at the product launch last week, Andy Wynne of agri-environmental experts E-CO2 said the tool allows farmers to alter a wide range of key performance criteria such as herd yield, calving index and feed use so they can see immediately how improvements affect the bottom line and their environmental footprint.

“Not all farmers like collecting data, but this is a half-way house. It can also be used by farmers to set future targets alongside the farm’s consultant, nutritionist or vet, who will then be in a position to provide advice on how these can be achieved,” he said.

Mr Wynne said the four main reasons dairy farmers should use the tool were to assess current performance, enable benchmarking, identify problem areas and to give an overview of the carbon footprint.

For example, if farmers could drop their calving interval by 30 days, it could result in a saving of £11,000 across the herd, explained Alltech’s Ben Braou. “It is about taking a holistic approach to improve efficiency. And by improving efficiency you also help reduce your carbon footprint,” he said.

Dairy farmer and founder of EC02 Peter Darlington said farmers needed to take the responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint now.

“There is huge political pressure behind it and if we don’t play our part, we could see government come down on us with legislation. It’s in our hands to do something about it and then use it as an opportunity to promote and position our industry.”

Dairy farmer Rob Bowdler, who milks 900 cows at Heath Farm, Shropshire, said he has used the tool to assess herd performance. Heath Farm recently increased its slurry storage capacity, leading to less reliance on artificial fertilisers. “By entering existing and then reduced fertiliser rates into the Dairy “What If” Tool, I have been able to see the potential financial savings and carbon reduction opportunities I can make,” he said.

A video demonstrating the tool can be viewed here. The tool can be accessed here.

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