By Jessica Buss
DAIRY producers are to benefit from lower milk recording costs with Holstein UK and Irelands announcement that it is to enter the market and NMRs decision to cut costs as a result of the move.
Launching HUKIs official milk recording service at the National Holstein Show last week, its chief executive David Hewitt said he believed milk recording and data collection on UK cows should be industry controlled and not run by a plc.
The new service – 1-stop – offers more than most other milk recording services, and at a lower cost, he said.
This includes a computerised herd management program, quota management tool, milk quality, somatic cell counts, and free pedigree and BCMS registrations.
The cost is 12.96/cow a year, split into 12 equal instalments, plus a 150 start-up fee, mainly for training to use the computer program.
“As a non-profit making organisation we can focus on maximum value for members rather than profits for shareholders,” said Mr Hewitt.
The system is mainly aimed at units using flow meters connected to a computer in the parlour.
But it will work with traditional parlours where information is taken from the parlour and keyed into a computer on farm, he added.
It meets with guidelines of the International Committee of Animal Recording and Animal Data Centre.
In a company statement, NMR describes HUKIs launch of a milk recording service as disappointing.
NMR had hoped to form a strategic alliance with HUKI to deliver real benefits to British milk producers, said the companys chief executive Robin Turner.
“HUKI has rejected proposals to work with NMR and has decided to compete directly, spending producers money on duplicating services and systems.
“Competition is good, but only really effective in expanding markets.
The UK dairy industry is in crisis and needs genuine co-operation and pooled investment more than ever.”
But NMR now plans to compete against HUKI on service and quality, and to reduce prices. It is reviewing prices and will announce changes shortly, he added.
One of the key advantages of milk recording with HUKI is the speed at which recording is completed, believed Mr Hewitt.
Milk volumes are sent directly to HUKI and milk samples couriered to the On-Merit lab for quality analysis and somatic cell counting.
Samples can be taken by producers providing they have been trained and received the necessary certificate.
Sample results will be available to complete the recording within 48 hours of leaving the farm.
The data is then run on-farm with Orchid Datas herd management program, offering many ways to investigate data. Transmitting cow records to HUKI will help build a national database of herd health and fertility, added Mr Hewitt.
But to cut time in front of the computer, the Orchid program is designed to minimise data keying-in and errors by using menus and mouse-clicking on options.
Kent producer John Downing has been involved with trials of the herd management program for eight months and milk recording with the system for two months.
“We have used herd management programs before, but this has the ability to produce valuable management data and helps make decisions.”
He said that the information available on the herd has increased by 300%.
However, this has not required extra management time for inputting data, and has streamlined record keeping and avoided duplication of data entry.
Initially 1-stop is only available to HUKI members, but Mr Hewitt hopes it will soon be offered though other breed societies and to non-pedigree herds.
- 1-stop is on the Holstein UK & Ireland site at www.holstein-uki.org