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Stackyard News Sep 09

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New NMR Data Reflects Dairy Units’ Technical Sustainability

New data published by NMR shows the wide range in technical performance on UK dairy units. Drawing on data from more than 60% of the country’s dairy cows, the data shows a difference in herd average lifetime daily yield (LDY) of 8.9kg between the top and bottom 10%. This is the amount of milk each cow has produced per day of life.

NMR’s Ben Bartlett

NMR’s Ben Bartlett

“LDY is the amount of milk each cow has produced per day of life and it reflects the technical performance of the cow,” says NMR’s Ben Bartlett. “The top 10% of NMR herds ranked on LDY have an average score of 14.58kg/day compared with the bottom 10% at 5.72kg/day. This top group are likely to be achieving good yields, calving at or near two years old and getting cows back in calf with minimum delay. Longevity in these herds should be above average too.”

Looking at the data that makes up LDY, Mr Bartlett pointed to new data that demonstrates the wide range in performance between herds. Based on the past 12 months, the top 25% of NMR herds has a calving interval of 391 days compared with 462 days for the bottom 25%. Days to first service for the top 25% stands at 81 days, compared with 130 days for the bottom 25%. And while rolling average cell counts for NMR herds average 225,000 cells/ml, the top 25% are achieving an average of 110,000 cells/ml.

While many herds are working to reduce the age of heifers at first calving, the data shows that 65% are calving at 28 months or older and nearly a third are calving at 31 months or older.

“There are many factors that affect the length of time it takes a cow to repay her rearing costs, but in general a cow calving at 28 months old will not start making a positive contribution to the herd until she is in her third lactation,” says Mr Bartlett.

“Producers need to look at all areas of technical performance and the trends in their herds. Improving fertility and reducing the age of calving for heifers can improve the herd’s technical and financial sustainability.”

He encourages producers to use their lifetime yield figures and look carefully at trends in performance to make sure they’re all moving in the right direction. “Our figures would indicate that there are some units where improvements could be made – the data is all there to identify the weak areas and reverse any downward trends.”

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