Figures produced by James Dunn from Promar Consultancy show that headline rises in dairy herd margins are largely down to increasing milk prices over the last 12 months.
In an article in Dairy Farmer magazine, Mr Dunn showed that whilst average milk yield per cow rose from 7,698 litres to 8,006 (+ 308 litres) on Promar costed farms, milk from forage fell slightly to 2,081 litres, meaning that only 26% of the milk yield came from forage. The rest was effectively bought in. Whilst the milk price to concentrate price ratio was very favourable, building systems reliant on high levels of purchased feeds will not strengthen the resilience to future volatility in milk prices and commodity prices.
I don’t have access to data on milk form forage for the last 10 years. But, my guess is it has risen very little on most farms. Yet we are constantly told that figures of 4,000 litres from forage can be achieved on most farms. That represents a huge potential saving, not only in direct feed costs but, also, in the scope to develop simple, low cost systems based on high quality forage and grazing that are fit for the future.