Accurate dry-off dates essential for late spring calving cows
Spring calving will begin over the next four weeks. Even though milk price does not cover the cost of winter milk production at manufacturing price, a significant number of farmers have milked their late calving cows through the Christmas period.
In the past, milk quota restrictions ensured most spring calving cows were dry prior to Christmas. For many farmers cash flow is stipulated as the primary reason to extend lactations.
It is essential that you have accurate dry off dates for these late spring calving cows. Of greater significance is the requirement to achieve a BCS of 3.0 eight weeks prior to the due calving date. Unfortunately cows are either not being dried off in time or allowed to lose BCS prior to drying off.
With costs of milk production in excess of milk price, farmers are being placed in the unenviable position that the stress on both farmers and cows will result in an unsustainable food production system. There will be casualties.
We need to ensure that we maintain contact between farmers during this period of uncertainty associated with a return to profitable milk production.
Until such time as positive market signals emerge it is essential that farmers support each other with regular phone contact and farm visits. Stress resulting in depression creates a situation where the underlying stressors are not addressed. This creates more animal welfare problems and in turn reduced sustainability of the food production system.
The use of pre-calver minerals has been dramatically curtailed in spring calving herds. This is a classical symptom of a dairy business in crisis. Failure to supply the quality and quantity of pre-calver minerals will have a knock-on effect on the sustainability of the food production system.