Data from the ICBF shows a huge increase in milk recording since 2005, the largest annual increase, 11%, being in 2011. There were increases of a 5% in 2014 and 10% in 2015.
There was a reduction in the number of herds recorded in 2016, but only a little change in the number of cows. We now have over 50% of our cows milk recorded.
For improving our national herd health and quality, it is desirable to have at least 70% of our cows milk recorded.
If we want to compete internationally, farmers need a level playing pitch regarding information about their cows, so they can select the very best animals for their herds.
Data from milk recording provides huge financial benefits, as it enables farmers to select the best cows for breeding replacements.
The obvious and immediate advantage of milk recording is that it shows each individual cow’s milk yield, milk composition and SCC.
Milk recording is the only means by which proper control can be kept on SCC.
Casual testing for SCC will cost almost as much and is not very effective for controlling SCC/mastitis problems.
Recording societies and pedigree breeders are now closely linked up to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF). Farmers using the milk recording service can participate in Herd Plus by sending details of animal events to the ICBF throughout the year.
In return they receive not only milk recording data, but also information on fertility, health and other data, that is used to determine an Economic Breeding Index (EBI) for individual cows and herds.
This information is critical for breeding and culling purposes. In the future, as more and more information becomes available from the ICBF regarding sires and cows, it will be possible for farmers to make more scientific breeding decisions for their herds.
Different farmers will have different priorities and they will be able to select animals to suit their requirements.
Other advantages of milk recording include much higher prices for stock in the event of being depopulated, higher prices for surplus stock, and comprehensive mastitis reports.
Farmers who make optimum use of milk recording can get a ten-fold return on their investment. Unfortunately, a lot of farmers do not make full use of their reports. Farmers can discuss the end of year analysis with their recording society and Teagasc, in order to get the full benefit from recording.
Cost of milk recording
The first step in milk recording is to contact your local recording society. This is very urgent now.
Costs are similar to last year. Different types of manual milk recording schemes are being offered.
The A4 (4-week recording) costs €19 per cow. A5 (10 visits) costs €16 per cow. The cost of A6 is €13.50 per cow and the A8 scheme (four visits) is €11.50 per cow. There is also an A7 scheme of five visits costing €12.50 per cow.
There is a herd fee of €60 for all systems.
The cost of milk recording should be regarded as an investment in the future.
Therefore it should not fall foul of cost cutting binges.
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