Managing your 2016 choices, goals and plans as a dairy farmer

Most dairy farmers will plan for producing more high-quality, high-EBI heifers, and increasing milk production.

But if finances don’t allow, it may be a better option to maintain cow numbers and optimise milk yields.

Whatever the choice, now is a good time to write down your long and short term goals and plans for achieving them.

Make an estimate of your household financial requirements going forward, and compare them with your potential earnings.

Talk to your adviser and bank, and make sure not to over-borrow.

Plan realistically for improvements in your farming. Remember that the top one third of dairy farmers consistently make about twice the profit per gallon of milk as the lower one third.

The main reasons for this difference are grassland, herd management, and disease status, and in some cases, soil type.

If things go wrong, remain realistically optimistic and seek out opportunities.

Use the Teagasc Profit Monitor and other programmes to assess your farming performance and to examine future options.

Spend sufficient time managing your farm rather than physically working; if necessary, employ help during busy periods so that you can devote time to managing.

Improve your management skills, including financial management, by further education and taking an active part in discussion groups.

Adapt best practices such as breeding to top AI bulls, milk recording etc.

Breed as many cows as possible to high EBI bulls with good indices for fertility and solids.

Discuss a herd health programme with your vet, and aim for a clean, healthy herd.

Plan to improve your milk protein, through better grassland management.

Keep good records, and use them properly.

Reseed or improve any pastures that are damaged and under-producing.

Bring soil fertility up to standard, and get the best response from fertiliser.

Farm safely.


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