Use all urea and continue to use for whole year saves a
lot of money;
Sulphur must be used on dry farms from April to
September a little and often. Because it is closely
associated with nitrogen (N), you must use one unit of
sulphur (S) for every 12 units of N;
The ratio of meal to fertiliser spending should be 40:60.
This indicates if you have your investment and priorities
Veterinary costs: these should be 1c/L or 45-60/cow. With
good preventative care, these can be kept low.
Farmers who are challenging these costs are addressing the
cost of product, the amount of treatments and the cost of
Knowledge of diseases and deficiencies is a key driver here
are you as informed as you should be?
AI/breeding costs: The target is 0.7c/L or 35/cow.
If these costs are high, it may indicate you have an infertile
herd or you have poor heat detection methods;
Use genomic, sexed semen and test bulls to minimise cost
and increase EBI at fastest rate possible;
Drug intervention, except synchronisation of heifers (a
must) has no part to play;
A scanning towards the end of season has merit where
infertility is an issue but otherwise there is no merit.
Contractor costs: if yours are high, where you have the
machinery and time yourself, it is wasted money.
You can justify for silage cutting;
If looking after 120-180 livestock units yourself with some
casual labour, you must use the contractor for spreading
slurry, fertiliser and some other chores;
Your combined contractor + machinery running + leasing +
depreciation costs should not be more than 4c/L. If higher,
it may indicate you have too much machinery available for
the staff to use.
Fixed costs: a farmer once said to me there should be no
such thing as `fixed costs' on any dairy farm as they should
all be capable of being varied up or down.
In Ireland, fixed costs account for more than 60 per cent of
the total costs, which is too high, and they give the lowest
return on money invested;
Every cost should be challenged. But high depreciation
on machinery and buildings indicates your interest in
The only fixed cost I am generally happy with is `labour'
cost, be it permanent or casual, because, if properly used, it
can generate huge financial benefits.
Rainy day kitty: because 2017 has been so profitable, farmers
should think about 2018, with lower milk prices and higher
taxes. Therefore, set aside a large amount of `savings' so that
you can cope with financial demands in autumn 2018.
If you haven't done your 2018 Cost Control Plan, you should
do it now.
Get ready for...
...calving, by feeding minerals and meals if cows are thin. But
make absolutely certain that cows or in-calf heifers aren't
getting too fat restrict their intake.
Feed 2-4oz per head per day of dry cow minerals to cows
and heifers for 42 days before calving;
As cows must calve in body condition of 3.25-3.5, thin cows
must get meal and fat cows must be on restricted silage;
As dry cow mastitis treatment is now wearing off, it is
essential that cows, and particularly heifers, are kept on
clean beds to avoid early lactation mastitis;
List out your cows' expected calving dates in your diary;
Have the calving equipment and houses ready.
...calf rearing, by having the calf house clean, disinfected,
well-aerated, the calf-feeding equipment at the ready,
adequate calf rearing space, etc.
To avoid or minimise Johne's disease, `snatch' the calf from
the cow, only feed colostrum from the mother and feed
milk substitute to replacement heifers. Don't feed bulk
`new' milk to replacements, but it's ok for males;
Buy a refractometer now to test colostrum quality.
...milking, by servicing the milking machine.
This can be a DIY job with some easily maintained
machines, but you must know what you are doing;
You should shop around for liners and rubberwear;
You must test the machine if your somatic cell count
(SCC) is high and it hasn't been tested for a few years.
...mastitis, by keeping the animals' environment very clean
and minimise feeding and bullying stress.