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Stackyard News Sep 2012

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Precision Dairy Herd Development Service Launched

An independent and thoroughly practical performance assessment service was launched at Livestock 2012 by Agrii Consultancy Services (ACS) to help busy dairy farmers and herdsmen focus their management attention on the most pressing and rewarding areas for improving profitability.

The housed environment is one of six key management areas assessed by Precision Herd Development.
photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

housed environment

Precision Herd Development (PHD) involves carefully structured on-farm assessments of one or more of six key management areas – the housed environment, ruminant nutrition, livestock health, youngstock management, grassland and soil improvement, and business appraisal – identified with users in advance.

Conducted by a consultant specialising in the area concerned, each assessment has been designed to provide the best possible independent appraisal of herd strengths and weaknesses and the most practical improvement advice for the least possible time commitment from farm staff and minimal disruption to the working day.

In each case, the assessment findings are summarized in a short, easy-to-digest report prioritising improvement actions based on practical research and experience. A unique benchmarking system also highlights how the herd is performing compared to similar farms in the area.

“I know from bitter experience just how difficult it can be to see the wood for the trees in dairy herd improvement,” stressed 2009 Livestock Adviser of the Year, Rob Mintern who heads-up ACS Livestock Support. “Especially so when you’re up to your ears in day-to-day herd management and sick with worry over the future.

“That’s why we’ve deliberately structured our new service into what we know to be the six key critical success factors for most herds. While whole business performance remains our central concern, focusing on these specifics ensures the right degree of precision in management improvement.

“Our PHD service concentrates the mind and allows relatively simple opportunities for improving profitability which can too often be over-looked to be clearly prioritised for rapid attention. At the same time, it enables other more complex improvement opportunities to be identified for longer-term solutions. All of which is designed to help the business survive and thrive in today’s particularly challenging production environment.

“Importantly too, it does this while leaving dairymen free to get on with their immediate milking, feeding and other day-to-day management jobs without having to devote time to accompanying consultants round the farm,” Mr Mintern pointed out.

Developed from trialling with dairy herds across the country and involving up to half a day’s visit per assessment, Precision Herd Development is available through Agrii Consultancy Services from as little as £400/herd. Set against this, typical benefits like reducing annual mastitis cases by 10 per 100 cows or increasing winter milk output by 1litre/cow/day by getting cows to lie down for an extra hour a day are worth between £2500 and £5000 per year.

Following an assessment, customers can expect to receive their PHD report and advice within approximately seven days.

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