Dairy: Weighing up the pros and cons of milking late calving cows
Milking on late calving cows has the potential to generate €2 profit per cow per day. But do the risks outweigh the benefits?
At a farm walk last week in West Limerick, the economics of milking on April/May/June calving cows was one of the hot topics up for discussion.
The host farmer intended milking on 20 late calving cows through December and January. All 20 cows have been scanned back in calf.
Firstly we had to estimate the likely output of these cows who were heading into their eighth and ninth months of lactation, and eventually we settled on a daily yield of 15 litres per cow. After much debate we put a value of 30c/l on this late autumn milk giving us a daily income of €90 per day from milking these 20 cows, which works out at €4.50 per cow.
Estimating the cost of producing this milk can be a tricky business. Which costs do we include and which costs do we exclude?
The cost of supplementing these cows with meal while indoors is one obvious cost. The feeding value of much of the silage being tested this autumn is around 67pc and 68pc DMD.
It was agreed by all that somewhere in the region of 5kgs of an 18 to 20pc protein ration would be required to supplement this type of silage. A cost of €280 was placed on this ration which works out at €1.40 per cow per day.
Should the silage be costed in? If these cows are back in calf and are going to be kept anyway, then the group argued that this batch of cows would eat this silage anyway.