Dairy: Taking stock of the post-quota options
So here we are in the milk quota-free era. An era where we can start to plan a little more freely rather than having to think how we can work our way around the system. Freedom to produce they call it.
However, this new-found freedom needs to be handled with due deliberation.
With the breeding season less than a month away for the spring calving herd, there are some decisions that will affect the farm's future milk supply to be considered:
* What date should you start calving? Should this stay the same as last year or is there value in moving this earlier or later? Consider how the spring grazing usually works out in terms of grass availability and grazing conditions;
* When is the ideal time to dry off the herd? Consider the autumn supply of grass, potential pasture damage, the date when cows are normally housed, and your ability to produce adequate silage, and silage quality;
* Are your maiden heifers of an adequate weight for mating and will you mate these before the cows or at the same time?
* Are you going to use full dairy breeding or sweep with beef bulls? What are your plans for surplus dairy heifers if using full dairy breeding?
* How many dairy heifers do you want? Could you simplify the workload associated with the breeding period by considering changes in the number of weeks of AI, the use of AI on heifers, the total number of weeks breeding and the introduction of stock bulls?