A simple tool developed by the Milk Development Council (MDC)
to help dairy farmers calculate the net profits or costs of finishing
cull cows to go into the food chain goes live from Tuesday (February
The web-based, user-friendly calculator - a joint development
between MDC’s Farm Management and Economics departments - follows
the end of the Over Thirty Month Scheme (OTMS) last month.
Cattle over the age of 30 months can now be sold into the food
chain, either deadweight or liveweight.
Farmers will be able to calculate the additional return required
to generate a profit for the extra feeding, housing, and labour
input, says Brian Lindsay, head of MDC’s Farm Management
He says: “It will help them work out whether it’s worth
their while to invest in fattening cows from a business perspective,
or whether it will detract from their core business of producing
“The calculator is the latest FMP device which enables farmers
to make informed decisions about their business.”
Farmers will be able to select a number of different types of basic
feed, and factor in the cost of the extra housing and labour, in
order to work out the cost-per-kilo of finishing off compared with
the cost of selling the cattle earlier, explains Mr Lindsay.
He says: “Many farmers are now faced with the choice of what
to do with their culled cows. We want to ensure that farmers are
not putting extra effort into improving condition - for limited
or no profit. Finishing cattle destined for culling may not be
right for everyone and for some the additional costs will make
them question the viability of this activity.”
Mr Lindsay cautions that users of the tool should also remember
to add in additional costs of transport or agency fees which would
be incurred whenever the stock is marketed.
Dairy farmer Don Griffin, who farms at Hinckley, Leicestershire,
said: "Despite being designed by experts, this calculator
is easy to use and could become a very useful tool in decision-making
in our business."
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