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Dairy Health – Make Hay While There’s Some Sun

Following the financial challenges of the last two years there is some relief at present.  With more competitive pricing across the dairy product and service market is now the time to invest in your unit’s future?

We appreciate that bank balances take time to heal so perhaps looking at return on investment calculations and long-term benefits to a change in practice are a more convincing argument.

It is hard to genuinely compare unit to unit; variabilities in management, environment, aspiration and finance means comparisons are often tenuous. Add to this differing costs of production, or rather lost revenue, with dairy herds struggling with such a wide range of challenges it is hard to accurately predict when ROI may be achieved.

Guide figures are calculated by taking national average disease and performance rates and applying average costings to these. It is down to the advisor and farm to apply these appropriately to your business. One thing that is consistent however, is the substantial cost of sub-optimal performance across the many strands that make up modern dairying.

Dick Esslemont concludes the costs of ketosis “the hidden cash killer” very nicely.  He reports the national average sub-clinical and clinical ketosis rates would be 30% and 3% respectively. Who out there currently monitors or accepts their level of ketosis? Dick summarises potential disease and fertility related lost revenue to an 8000L UK dairy is around 8.22ppl, when benchmarking against ‘accepted targets’. Ketosis associated losses would be 2.88ppl, representing 35% of total wastage.  Whatever your performance, disease prevalence or accepted benchmark targets; wastage is your enemy. Addressing these losses can be the difference of success and failure as competition intensifies.

Poultry and pig sectors have been through their bottle necks and price-pinch refining how they produce. The sure thing about milk price volatility is that it is here to stay and investment in your system is crucial to ensure the leaner times are more manageable.

To that end we encourage all our producers to identify their short falls. Reduced antibiotic usage comes with its challenges but also huge benefit with increased lifetime milk representing a key financial driver to success. Use of alternative health promoters, particularly in the pre-ruminant calf, establishes better cow longevity. Competitive bioactive products go a long way to modifying environmental pathogen loads and resulting challenge. The investments in vaccine technology are now far outweighing antibiotic development, indicating future direction to animal health.

Focus on individual animal health has also somewhat been lost with ever increasing herd size and available man-hours decreasing. What technology and robotic systems do so well is bring back that attention to detail. There are costs involved but we calculate the ROI for our health monitor bolus and collar system to be between 12-24 months depending on unit issues and associated losses.

Engage now with an advisor that can bring genuine financial beneficial change to your unit. As with a lot of things in life you have to spend money to make money but the opportunities available at present with Applied Bacterial Control and Moletech we believe make for an exciting dairy future.

For more information, phone Molecare Veterinary Services on 01392 872934 or visit www.molecarevetservices.com

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