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Cost of keeping a dairy cow up €500 on last year to over €2,100/cow

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The cost of keeping a dairy cow and replacement unit has soared by over €500 this year and could increase further next year, according to Teagasc Dairy Specialist Patrick Gowing.

Speaking on a Teagasc webinar on the subject last week, he said an analysis last year of production costs for period 2015-2020 showed the cost of keeping a cow had been around €1000-€1100 and crept up to €1500 over the five year period 2020 and then took a significant jump in the last two years up to 2022.

Last year we projected forward for 2022 and id say our projections were right for about 2-3 weeks, and then fertiliser and meal started moving.

Gowing updated the figures again in recent weeks, and the changes have been stark.

"We ended up in 2021 with the average cost of keeping a cow and replacement unit of €1,656, and when we project forward that going to increase by over €500 bring it up to €2,197.

"Fertiliser has taken the biggest jump," he said, adding that meal and other variables are also now increasing.

"A poor cow didn't have to do as much work in the past to cover herself. She has a lot more work to do now. If you have to put in purchased forage, that's going to increase that figure, even more, putting further pressure on lower-performing cows," he said.

Looking forward to next year, Gowing said it was difficult to make an accurate prediction.

"It's very hard to say, but meal will probably increase further again. We are not sure regarding fertiliser, it is in a dip at the moment, but I can't see it substantially dropping. We cannot see any reason why the cost of keeping a cow will be less next year," he said.

He advised farmers to look at what type of cows they are keeping and what system they are in.

"It's costly to keep cows on farms at the moment. Post-2015, an average cow you would have got away with it, meal and fertiliser was relatively cheap, but the squeeze has come on now, and we really need to start looking at them," he said.

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