In the last 12 months, the UK dairy sector has seen input inflation hitting 30% and milk prices increasing by up to 20ppl. However, this spring, cost of production will remain high at an average of 40ppl, while farmgate milk prices are expected to drop off significantly.
Neither farmer nor feed mill can influence pricing, but together we can maintain margins by focusing on feed efficiency (FCE) to minimise your cost of production.
While it may seem logical to cut out concentrates or to reduce feed quality to reduce costs, this is a false economy.
In theory it takes 5.2 MJ ME to produce 1 litre of milk (@ 4.0% fat, 3.2% protein and 4.9% lactose), therefore dropping from a top spec 12.5 MJ ME compound to a lower spec alternative of say 11.5 MJ ME will lose you 1 litre for every 5kg fed.
If these differ by £20/t for example, this change has saved 10p for every 5kg fed at the expense of 35-50p of milk, depending upon the price.
For all herds, it is vital that concentrates are selected to complement, not replace, your home-grown forage. Our compounds and blends offer the quality starch and protein needed to drive production.
They also contain our package of balanced and targeted vitamins and minerals which are otherwise lacking in forages, yet essential for all bodily functions.
In addition, Actisaf live yeast in many of our diets optimises the rumen environment, whilst other additives support energy utilisation, together supporting health and driving FCE.
FCE is simply a measurement of the milk output for each kg of dry matter intake (DMI), something that varies significantly between herds, individual cows, and stages of lactation.
More efficient cows convert more feed and forage into milk, with fewer losses via urine, faeces, methane etc., resulting in greater profits.
Genetics is often seen as the solution to improved FCE, but there are environmental, management and dietary factors at play.
Research has shown that rumen microbes are responsible for 2/3 of the variability in FCE between individuals, therefore a focus on rumen health and function is essential.
This was highlighted in a recent study in which, for the same milk output, the DMI difference between the most and least efficient cows within one herd was 2.6kg.
The environment, management and diet were the same; and so, variation in the rumen and its microbial population was identified as the driver.
Table 1 shows that when rumen function is considered and a compound or blend compliments your forage, purchased feed remains profitable, even when the milk price drops.
Your Dugdale account manager can help you select the most appropriate and cost-effective products; review your forage quality and utilisation and offer visits to identify opportunities for further improvement in FCE on farm. Though this support, in addition to utilising our online DN Tech Guide resources (https://www.dugdalenutrition.com/technical), together we can mitigate the impact of price cuts and work to maintain your margins.
☎️ For more information please contact your local DN Sales Specialist or call us on 01200 420200.