Would you even consider?

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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regolith
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Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:02 am

Selling sound young cows in the autumn (April), banking the money and using it to buy late calvers in September.

I've been thinking about this all day and at present am thinking 'no' because I want to beat up the Staph mastitis and any other sort of problems new cows might bring in. And it's stoopid to finally solve the problem of too many late calvers and then turn round and buy more :???:
The winter feed budgets don't work. An advisor who was here to condition score my cows the other day left his best recommendation of 'sell the herd and walk off the farm' because he can see there's too many challenges... the farm has never been properly set up for milk production.

I could simply sell a few rising3yr heifers and risk not having enough cows to eat the grass next summer, but be able to feed the herd marginally better through the winter.
Also, there's a farmer owes me money on cows and I thought he might be interested in a proposal that instead of payment he sends me a computer split (meaning, neither of us pick the cows - a computer selects an average sample) of his late calvers in September. At least from that farm I'd have a good idea exactly what problems the cows would arrive with.

The temperatures haven't really dropped and there's still plenty moisture around but grass growth has declined markedly in the last fortnight... is it possible the September fertiliser has just run out? Normal farms I expect real good autumn growth if the conditions are there for it, usually after a dry spell which hasn't happened this year. I spoke to someone about a week ago who told me a neighbour was getting nearly double the growth rates I was seeing at the time.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby bigbull338 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:51 am

heres my suggestion for what its worth.sell off your cows with mastitis an other probs.an then look at your herd an see where you are after thats done.you do not sell your young topend cows unless you get 1 heck of a price for them.because as you said if you do that you still need to buy back cows.but id take the cull cow money an buy back cows as far as it goes.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:31 pm

bigbull - I get about $300 for cull cows. That's it. I've already culled around 20% of the herd this year because I couldn't feed them.
I could keep going with culling - and it's a certainty that I'd go broke doing it and you wouldn't see me here again.

I'm drafting six of the mastitis cows to dry off this evening, will get the rest out after the next herd test in about ten days time.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby bigbull338 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:20 pm

with those cull price your between a rock an a hard place.what is your countrys SCC limit on bulk tank samples.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby cow pollinater » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:05 pm

One of the most profitable dairies that I know of sells every calf born on the place and buys other peoples older culls. Depending on what he thinks prices for animals and milk will be he'll sometimes raise up the heifer calves and breed them but sometimes he sells them as dayolds. Sometimes he'll run a bull with his cows and sometimes he just buys fresh cows and milks them until they become unprofitable and then dumps them... No matter what he does he does it cheap. No fresh cow treatment, mastitis cows get culled(for the same price as what he bought them for), no breeder to pay, no vet checks, very little labor, cheap feed, etc.
It's a little extreme for those of us who like to see our stock improving but this guy does have profitability down to a fine science. :nod:
The funny part is that his dad owns a registered herd and this guy grew up nitpicking over genetics and striving towards perfect cattle generation after generation.

You are the only person that can decide as we can't see what your expenses are so it's hard to recommend what would be most profitable but I think I'd dump those heifers out into the market and buy back some older cows later on. It's hard to trade in your hard work at genetic improvement for an unknown but you may be surprised and wind up with some good cattle in the deal.
Heifers are like a shiny new car... Fun to have around and imagine all the potential but it takes a bunch of capital to get behind the wheel and once you get it on the road it's a car just like any other car and it will never be worth what you've already invested in it... So much cheaper to just go buy a bunch of cars with a ton of miles and drive them till they drop and then sell them for close to what you already had into them. :nod:
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:31 am

thanks. I'm going to put this idea right to the backburner for the moment... the heifers are a group I'd intended to sell all along, don't really fit my system, but I'm fairly low on numbers now for next year.
I've known people do similar things here... one of my open 2 yr olds got picked up at the works and I got the phone call from LIC wanting me to release her records for the new owner & I thought the guy was a fool because if she'd produced worth a dam I wouldn't have sent her to the meat works. Heard of another who buys young open cows, keeps no heifer calves and runs about eight or nine Jersey bulls with the herd (no AI), and apparently he's got one of the tightest calving patterns and lowest open rate around.

400,000 SCC limit bb. I've never even come close to it this year, averaging about 180,000. This herd was averaging under 100,000 with next to no mastitis when we were in Taranaki and I want to get back to that - I'm fed up of treating mastitis every month. Still got nineteen cows in the herd that have had a case of mastitis this year - I've culled the others - and any of those that get it again after DCT will be gone too. The vet says cure rates can be 80% after DCT so lets hope so, because there's some top-notch cows in that group.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby alisonb » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:58 pm

regolith wrote:The winter feed budgets don't work. An advisor who was here to condition score my cows the other day left his best recommendation of 'sell the herd and walk off the farm' because he can see there's too many challenges... the farm has never been properly set up for milk production.

Have you ever considered scaling down somewhat and processing(pasturizing etc) your own milk and selling organic products directly to wholesalers. According to advisor how big a herd can the farm handle? Perhaps heed his words before it's too late, you don't exactly have to walk away but there is more than one way to skin a cat.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:22 pm

200 cows alison.
That's what this farm is supposed to be able to handle. 200 be nice 500 kg Friesian cows plus heifers.
I'm milking 160 Jersey type crossbreds - 400 kg girls and buying in a high proportion of their production on an extortionate lease on a farm that is not set up for dairying... tracks are impassable, water is unsuitable for either stock drinking or plant cleaning and is not reaching the back of farm, water has run out at dairy again last night and I spent an hour trying to get the pump going again after adding swamp water to the storage tanks & will have to have another go before milking now. Milking 137 actually, culled 3 open ones last week and dried off 20 last night.

Yeah, maybe I should heed his words and try milking 200 cows again next year :eye-roll:
Not meaning to lash out at you Alison; I had a pretty good idea what I was walking into when I took on this farm but I simply didn't have options at the time with the other guy choosing to dishonour his contract at the eleventh hour. The gamble here is to keep enough production going/cows milking to stay in business, and dropping to what the farm can handle won't do it.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby alisonb » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:31 pm

You are missing my point :)
alisonb wrote:Have you ever considered scaling down somewhat and processing(pasturizing etc) your own milk and selling organic products directly to wholesalers.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:42 pm

yeah, but I wanted to say it :-)
...and more. Sorry, the current advisor who's helping with the condition score gain didn't suggest a number of cows, he just confirmed that none of the options are going to work. Different advisor plus Fonterra plus farm owner all told me when I was looking at this farm that it was a 200-cow farm. It was six months before someone gave me the information that there had been 200 cows on the farm the previous spring and they'd been dying of starvation... literally dying of it.

I've got a little experience in pasteurising, cheese-making. It's really not an option here... for one thing, there's the water situation. It's up to the farm owner to supply potable water for the farm (council has a bore and chlorine plant on the farm and have put a meter right in the gateway next to the cowshed) and he won't do it, he thinks the swamp water is good enough. I have to keep the milking plant permanently on water exclusion because of the low quality of the water.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby alisonb » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:05 pm

regolith wrote:The gamble here is to keep enough production going/cows milking to stay in business, and dropping to what the farm can handle won't do it.

In your opinion how many cows can it handle? Is the milk organic as well or just the farm(I think you said at a time the farm was organic)?
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:24 pm

alisonb wrote:
regolith wrote:The gamble here is to keep enough production going/cows milking to stay in business, and dropping to what the farm can handle won't do it.

In your opinion how many cows can it handle? Is the milk organic as well or just the farm(I think you said at a time the farm was organic)?


The milk isn't organic. I've been managing okay Jan/Feb with 160 but that wasn't all-grass, they had turnips and PKE/barley through that time. The real problem is the spring when low temperatures plus very low fertility holds back growth, maybe 140 - 150 cows would be okay?
A farm this size fully converted to dairying and in a good climate could run 230 on all-grass... that's equivalent to the number of cows/ha I've ben farming in Taranaki and Waikato. It takes an income of about 300K just to meet the lease and farm running costs and that's the total production from 144 cows, the extra feed and cropping isn't factored into that cost.
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby alisonb » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:43 pm

I would encourage you to do a feasibility study on diversifying by processing your milk to value added products that you will sell directly to retailers/restaurants or some niche market, especially if you can convert to 'organic'. You could pasteurize and bottle your own milk or the butter fat of your milk is high so butter could also an option out of many. You could bring your herd down to say 100(depends what the figures say) of your best animals and purchase some equipment with the cash that the sold animals bring in. You can't loose anything by doing a study but you may just gain something or you could just tell me to shut up :lol:
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby GMN » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:55 pm

regolith wrote:200 cows alison.
That's what this farm is supposed to be able to handle. 200 be nice 500 kg Friesian cows plus heifers.
I'm milking 160 Jersey type crossbreds - 400 kg girls and buying in a high proportion of their production on an extortionate lease on a farm that is not set up for dairying... tracks are impassable, water is unsuitable for either stock drinking or plant cleaning and is not reaching the back of farm, water has run out at dairy again last night and I spent an hour trying to get the pump going again after adding swamp water to the storage tanks & will have to have another go before milking now. Milking 137 actually, culled 3 open ones last week and dried off 20 last night.

Yeah, maybe I should heed his words and try milking 200 cows again next year :eye-roll:
Not meaning to lash out at you Alison; I had a pretty good idea what I was walking into when I took on this farm but I simply didn't have options at the time with the other guy choosing to dishonour his contract at the eleventh hour. The gamble here is to keep enough production going/cows milking to stay in business, and dropping to what the farm can handle won't do it.


What do you feed your herd?
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Re: Would you even consider?

Postby regolith » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:46 pm


What do you feed your herd?


Grass.
When we rate a farm by how many cows it can hold, the presumption is that they are being fed grass. 3.4 cows per hectare is what I was farming in Taranaki on all-grass. On this farm I'm at about 2.2 cows per hectare and have bought in 80,000 kg of feed at 12 MJ/ME so far.
Crushed corn is $620/T here. Milk, I'm getting about 60 cents/litre, don't know if that's going to go up or down for next season.
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