As of 1 April 2015, milk quotas are no longer in place in Europe. How should you, as a farmer, prepare for that? Do you want to increase milk production? Or are you faced immediately with new limits, like the phosphate and ammonia legislation? Less but better young stock on your farm is the key to more room for milk production. What does your rearing balance look like?
Not everybody will be in a position for unlimited milking. The new fertiliser legislation in place since 1 January puts a fairly hard limit on the growth of dairy farms. Expansion is possible, but only if it does not put any extra pressure on the fertiliser market. Additionally dairy farms with a phosphate surplus will have to show every year that the surplus is disposed of responsibly to farms with enough land or to fertiliser processing plants. If that is not possible, they will be fined € 11 per kg of phosphate.
This means that farms already at the limit of phosphate production have a problem if they want to grow. Initiatives for the construction of industrial fertiliser processers (and/or export) are only gradually being implemented. And creating greater room for purchasing new land is not really an option. At current land prices, the purchase of more land for dairy cows is rarely profitable.
Fewer young cattle creates more room for milk production
So how can you create more room for expanding your number of dairy cows and increasing milk production without fertiliser processing or buying more land? One of the options open to almost every dairy farm is to reduce the number of young cattle on the farm. Less young stock means more room for dairy cows and for increasing milk production. This is only possible by keeping the calves that can grow into healthy, strong cows with high production levels. And then rearing those calves as effectively as possible!
3 goals: earlier calving, lower replacement rates, higher production
More room for milk production and milking more with less young stock on the farm. Is it really that simple? If you work towards the right goals, it may well be easier than you might think. Sprayfo's vision encompasses the following three goals:
1. Lowering the calving age of heifers to 22 or 23 months.
2. Lowering the replacement rate to less than 25%.
3. Increasing milk production per cow up to 1,000 litres in the first laction
Utilising the growth potential of your calves to the full
The next question is how to realise these three goals. Most dairy farmers could generate higher profits with a sharper focus on the first phase of life for their calves – from birth to weaning. After all, it is in the first weeks that the foundation is laid for the performance of the future dairy cow.
But it is essential to maximise the growth potential of the calf from birth. Growth is not just about 'weight gain'. It's also the key to the full development of the milk-production cells in the young animal. If you miss that chance in the period before weaning, you will never catch up, and the full milk-production potential of your future dairy cows will never be utilised. Sprayfo has good reason to assert that a focus on growth before weaning already in the first lactation generates 1000 litres more milk.
But there is more to it than just that. A well-developed calf will continue growing better after weaning, enter puberty earlier and will already have the right weight for insemination at 12–13 months. This helps you, as dairy farmer, to lower replacement percentages and increase (lifespan) production.
Realising growth potential with Sprayfo LifeStart
With the Sprayfo LifeStart Program Sprayfo supplies the nutrition and feed schedules you need to utilise the growth potential of young cattle to the full. Sprayfo milk replacer dissolves very effectively, provides an easy feed intake and can therefore be supplied in high concentrations. The latter of these is essential for maximising growth, high immunity levels and less disease and mortality.
Our rearing specialists look forward to providing specific rearing recommendations for your farm. Also the Sprayfo Profit Calculator allows you to quickly and conveniently calculate gains from more intensive feeding during calf rearing.
Rearing performance: calculate the profit of extra growth in the first weeks
Extra growth of your heifer calves in the first 8 weeks of life is directly related to their adult milk production. That's a well-known and proven fact. So what do you need to invest in extra growth? And how will the investment pay itself back in litres of milk and hard cash? Make the calculation quickly and simply, using the Sprayfo Profit Calculator.
The key to the Sprayfo Life Start rearing concept is concentrated feeding of calf milk replacer for extra growth in the first 8 weeks of life. In practice, this often means switching from 1 kilo of calf milk replacer per 7 to 8 litres of water, to 1:6. This therefore requires a minor investment in volume and quality. Sprayfo is known for its exceptional digestive properties, which is a precondition for successful and problem-free feeding of highly concentrated calf milk replacer.
Feeding extra calf milk replacer: what are the returns?
You are right to ask yourself what the investment means to you: a heavier calf is useful when weaning, but how about later on?
As mentioned earlier, there is a direct link between growth in the pre-weaning period and the subsequent production levels. This is based, among other things, on scientific research and tests by Nutreco Research and Sloten B.V., producer of Sprayfo and subsidiary of Nutreco. We know, for example, that growth in the rearing phase greatly determines the development of the udder cells which are subsequently responsible for milk production.
User-friendly calculation model for calf rearing
Together with Nutreco Research and independent accountants, we have translated this knowledge into the Sprayfo Profit Calculator, a user-friendly web application with a practical calculation model. As a dairy farmer, you have simple and direct insight into:
1. Your extra investment in Sprayfo Life Start
2. The extra growth (in grams per day) given by this investment, in the pre-weaning phase
3. The effect on the rearing costs (Euro per 100L milk)
4. The effect on the milk profits (Euro per milking heifer)
5. The balance of the financial returns minus the investment
1000 litres milk extra in the first lactation?
Proper targeted feeding and care of your calves in the first two months of life produces up to 1000 litres of extra milk during the first lactation. This message was spread by Sprayfo in for example advertisements and on this website. How does Sprayfo reach such a conclusion and what evidence does it have? Product Manager Eile van der Gaast explains.
You claim that proper targeted calf rearing leads to as much as 1000 litres of extra milk in lactation. Where did you get this amount from?
“A calf's udder development can only be influenced – either positively or negatively – in the first two months of life. The key is the calf's growth: if it's growing strongly, udder development will be good.
This was demonstrated in a trial by Brown in 2005. Strong growth at rearing also means better development of mammary tissue. If growth over the first two months of life is retarded, then this lag can no longer be compensated after the third month using extra concentrates.
Additionally, a large number of trials have established the connection between growth before weaning and milk production in the first lactation. A concrete result of these studies is that one gram extra growth per day at weaning provides 6.7 litres more milk in the first lactation!
What is needed to realise an extra 1000 litres?
“The answer to the previous question already suggests that stronger growth is required at weaning. In the Netherlands, growth per day at weaning is 600 grams under normal conditions. In Sprayfo Life Start trials we achieve more than 800 grams a day using an intensive milk-feeding programme. If we assume 200 grams extra growth per day x 6.7 litres extra milk production = 1340 litres extra during the first lactation. But we state 1000 litres of extra milk to be on the cautious side.
The extra growth is realised by focusing carefully on proper calf rearing and an intensive milk-feeding programme. This involves not only Sprayfo, which is fed in high concentrations owing to its excellent dissolvability and digestibility, but also a suitablefeeding schedule and active support for the dairy farmer. These are the core elements of the Sprayfo Life Start Concept.”