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Farmers need to become more cost conscious says Joe Melody in his latest column which warns of the dangers on losing attention on new gimmicks.

We’ve now passed peak calving season with almost 60% of the herd now calved. This seems to be representative of what’s happening on many farms across the country. The work is relentless across farms currently due to this tighter calving spread. There are many pros to compact calving but when things go wrong there’s a multiplier effect from this concentrated work load so fingers crossed the system works smoothly over this intense period.

With the advent of vaccines and a greater focus on dry cow mineral feeding, one would hope some of these problems would be averted due to good disease preventative plans.

Grazing has been intermittent at best since the start of the month. On the drier days cows are left grazing full time but once the cows get restless they are brought into the shed. On the wetter days we steal whatever few hours we can at grass for our milking herd. Once the cows get accustomed to grazing after the winter, I find that all they want is grass. They need their fill of grass regardless of the inclemencies of the weather so we try and let them out to graze with an appetite. There is no feed to rival spring grass, its just the accessing of it can be the challenging part.

Clare Echo Planning

I notice a higher percentage of cows and first calvers showing signs of heat early in the season and seems to be the case on farms in general, hopefully this will set up cows well for the coming breeding season. I’m already hearing talks of breeding season and were not long into calving season, bull brochures are out already and some are selecting their team of bulls for breeding season 21.

With a positive outlook for dairy markets this year, it’s disappointing to see that input prices are on the rise with nitrogen prices surging. This is being blamed on COVID-19, Brexit and insert whatever other relatively unconnected geo-political crisis here. In our experience at home, the profit monitor is a useful tool in benchmarking your own farms costs with similar farms and seeing where you’re performing well alongside where you might not be getting good value. We as farmers need to be much more cost conscious in a world of passing back cost increases to the primary producer i.e. the farmer.

Purchasing groups have become common place where a group of farmers band together to achieve scale when ordering their inputs, farmers have often saved several thousands of euros in the process. Farming is a very capital intensive business and in a good year there will be many shiny toys dangled in front of farmers but these all have to be paid for. The questions I would ask whether it be a product for animal health all the way to a machine is how will this product improve my quality of life? How will it increase the business’s net profit? In the case of an animal health supplement, what trials are there on its efficacy by a non biased entity? There are still plenty of snake oil salesmen out there ready to peddle their latest gimmick to part you and your hard earned money.

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