Genetics key to dairy profitability

Dairy farmers can boost their profits through better breeding and grass utilisation, industry experts said at the Teagasc National Dairy Conference.

“Significant genetic gain can be expected over the coming years in both milk and fertility traits,” said Teagasc director, Prof Gerry Boyle.

“Significant gains can also be obtained in grass utilisation on dairy farms. Improvements in breeding and grass utilisation can deliver financial benefits at farm level for all producers.”

At events hosted in Cork and Westmeath over the past two days, Teagasc’s Dr Pat Dillon also pointed out that the top 20% most profitable dairy farmers had higher stocking rates, lower concentrate feed input per cow, a longer grazing season, higher milk solids production per cow and a higher proportion of the farm in the grazing platform.

Dr Dillon added: “The best strategy for Irish dairy farmers to overcome volatile milk price is to develop low cost grass-based systems of milk production. In the future, comparisons should be made on a per kg of milk solids, rather than per litre basis; this better reflects the milk payment system, is more closely related to costs of production and can compare milk of different composition.”

Visiting New Zealand farmer Peter Morgan said developing a simple low-cost farm plan has helped him keep his 175-hectare farm in the top tier of profitability. He also cautioned against ‘system drift’ over time if some people allow aspects of the plan to slip.

“Take everybody involved in the business with you — your spouse/ partner, family, employees, advisors— this means sharing your strategic plans and taking the time to develop relationships with the key people on your support team,” said Mr Morgan.


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