Shropshire Star

Shropshire Farming Talk: Planning ahead and reviewing herd performance

I realise when writing the farm updates how great it is to look out the window at the farm and campus.

Shropshire Star farming column columnist Bronwen Bray.

This is particularly lovely after some overnight rain and early morning sun.

The team have been working on repairs, fencing and maintenance alongside the twice daily milking and care of the livestock.

At this time of year we also plan ahead and review our financial and herd performance.

This ties in with our curriculum planning and budget setting.

The cows are performing well and we are getting fourth rotations across the grazing platforms which is great.

This ensures the grass growth is maximized which increases the energy and protein the cows get from forage.

The milk and cow performance is monitored daily with reports coming back to the team on the number of litres, quality and hygiene.

This monitoring is essential as changes can be made during the day or even overnight before the next milking. The cow health, parlour cleaning, maintenance of the machinery, grass and feed quality and even moods of the cows and staff can all have an impact on milk production and quality.

It has been difficult this year in our farm review to pinpoint a consistent milk production average as we introduced new cows last year who have been moved to an Autum calving.

As milk production varies depending on the age, number of lactations and post calving interval total volumes change considerably over the year. The production of the younger cows for example is is averaging at 6,300 litres of milk.

What we have less control over is the milk prices we are given. These have fluctuated considerably over the past two years. We have received up to 42 ppl with the past year averaging around 35ppl. Each month the price changes and this is also impacted by the amount of milk solids the cows produce.

With a bit of maths it is easy to realise how volatile the dairy industry can be and how small margins make a considerable difference to whether we make a profit or loss. With 240 cows in milk even small changes in the milk price can increase income per year by a significant amount.

This is something our students have to consider and learn about as they develop their understanding of the industry and production methods to help produce food and materials for our growing population.

by Bronwen Bray, Walford College

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.