Dairy

Cow numbers crucial

By Country News

Decisions on cow numbers will be the biggest risk a farmer takes this season, according to Shannon Farm Consulting’s Phil Shannon.

Speaking at Murray Dairy’s Seasonal Update, Mr Shannon said making decisions on stock numbers would be more profitable than changing a cow’s feeding patterns.

‘‘One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a farmer is cow numbers,’’ he said.

‘‘Cows produce milk, which exposes you to the milk price and cows expose you to the feed market.

‘‘If I buy one more cow, or milk one more cow, I’ll need six or seven tonnes (more feed).

‘‘If I keep a cow, I’ve consciously decided that I’m going to chase six or seven tonnes (of feed).’’

Mr Shannon said most farmers were likely to cull herd numbers rather than change their feeding operations.

‘‘I’d argue 90 per cent of people won’t do much about their feeding other than feed cows properly because they know cows have a bit of a threshold where profit happens and it’s not rubbery, it’s fairly clear cut,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m peeing in the wind aren’t I when I’m fluffing around thinking I’m going to change my season by changing my daily feeding compared to exiting one more cow, or on the positive buying one more cow.

‘‘Cow numbers is a massive, massive influencer of your risk.

‘‘We talk a lot about risk around feed prices and milk price but there’s your biggest risk by far.’’