Profit mon­i­tor an es­sen­tial for all dairy farm­ers

Irish Independent - Farming - - OUR FARM - GER­ARD SHER­LOCK

THE MILD weather since Christ­mas came to an abrupt end last week with the first snow of the win­ter ar­riv­ing. Thank­fully it didn’t last or hang about.

It’s such a pity that the weather changed just as we in this re­gion can now of­fi­cially spread slurry. Ground con­di­tions are still al­right so I will be try­ing to spread as soon as the weather im­proves.

At the week­end I had to move a few load of slurry from one tank to an­other as it was get­ting full.

I walked the cow pad­docks last week and there are very good grass cov­ers on them. The av­er­age cover is 1022 with cov­ers rang­ing from 900 to 1400 on the pad­dock that was re­seeded last year.

Since the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber pad­docks grew an av­er­age of 8kgs/DM/day. This would be very high and un­usual as in other years it would be down at 2-3kgs/ DM/day.

Bal­ly­haise Col­lege has re­cently recorded growth rates of 11kgs/DM/day. I would hope within the next two weeks to get some of this grass eaten by the cows.

Calv­ing be­gan in midJan­uary. There are 16 calved with plenty more due in the next four weeks.

So far I have lost one calf from a heifer. Calves are be­ing stom­ach tubed with three litres of colostrum as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter be­ing born.

I also spent a cou­ple of days re­pair­ing the in­di­vid­ual calf pens. The slat­ted floors were rot­ten. They served their pur­pose well as I reckon some of the tim­ber dated from 1983.

I am due my sec­ond TB herd test in two weeks time; hope­fully it will be a clear one.

I opened the first cut silage pit last week. I have no test re­sults yet. It is very dry.

The sec­ond cut was tested and the re­sults of it were 25pc Dry Mat­ter, pH 3.88, Pro­tein 14.4pc, ME 9.8MJ/kg DM, DMD 64. I was ex­pect­ing a higher DMD value as the silage has a good pro­tein value.

On Jan­uary 3, my eight bulls made their fi­nal jour­ney to Lif­fey Meats. One more bull is still be­ing fin­ished as he had an in­jury on his leg. The eight av­er­aged 384kgs cold weight at €3.60/kg. They were 21 months of age.

Grad­ing scheme

As they were Here­ford and An­gus Crosses, I was pleased with their weights and their gains.

The price was dis­ap­point­ing. I did have a look in the su­per­mar­ket to buy some meat at sim­i­lar prices but none could be found.

I was amazed by the grad­ing scheme be­ing used by the fac­to­ries now. Gone are the days of the sim­ple R3 or O2.

Now there is R-3-, O=3- and lots more. Only two out of the eight an­i­mals had the same grade. This has to be very con­fus­ing for the beef pro­ducer. They did leave a mod­est mar­gin be­hind them, but it wasn’t enough to en­cour­age me to fin­ish more.

The one sav­ing grace with slaugh­ter­ing cat­tle is that you are paid for them very promptly.

The Tea­gasc profit mon­i­tor for 2018 was com­pleted and an­a­lysed at our last dis­cus­sion group meet­ing in Jan­uary.

My over­all farm profit was down from 2017.

This was due to a re­duc­tion in sales, a slight in­crease in pur­chased feed, an in­crease in other vari­able costs and an in­crease in fixed costs.

The com­mon costs on the farm were 20.83c/litre while the com­mon profit was 13.93c/ litre. The re­duc­tion in sales was due to the drop in milk price.

The in­crease in costs was due to more work be­ing done on the farm dur­ing 2018 such as re­seed­ing, re­pairs and main­te­nance and cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture.

The drought didn’t re­ally af­fect my farm as the in­crease in feed costs was due to the late spring of 2018. Milk solids con­tinue to rise — 481kg MS per cow was achieved in 2018 at 3.99pc but­ter­fat, 3.36pc pro­tein.

One in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise I did was to look at the whole farm profit rather than the milk­ing plat­form profit on its own.

When I mul­ti­ply the to­tal farm hectares by the farm stock­ing rate I get the to­tal live­stock units on the farm. For me 65pc of th­ese are dairy cows while 35pc are ei­ther re­place­ments or other an­i­mals.

As the re­place­ments and oth­ers are show­ing very mar­ginal prof­its, my goal is to re­duce th­ese live­stock units and in­crease the cow units. This in turn opens up the debate whether we should be rear­ing re­place­ments es­pe­cially if the ground needed for them is rented.

This year, for the first time, pro­vi­sion is be­ing made in the profit mon­i­tor on the hours we work on the farm.

It is a real eye opener as it showed that the de­vel­op­ing, ef­fi­cient farms where fewer hours per day are spent work­ing, can re­turn a wage.

The profit mon­i­tor pro­duces end­less re­ports which high­light all as­pects of our busi­ness. It should be a must-do for ev­ery dairy farmer.

Yet last year only about 9pc of the coun­try’s dairy farm­ers com­pleted the profit mon­i­tor. It’s still not too late to do one for 2018.

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