Do you know how you can make the most of every stall in the Dairy Barn?
Huge value can be made from improving reproductive efficiency on most dairies. Up to US$33 (29Euro, £26GBP) per % point of improved Pregnancy Rate at $0.40/L (0.35 Euro or £0.31) milk price has been calculated by a new prediction model.
Professor Mike Overton published* an economic model for predicting the gains to be made from improving pregnancy rates in dairy cows. By defining Insemination Risk (IR): % cows inseminated in the eligible population every 21 day cycle after 50 voluntary days and Conception Risk (CR): % cows confirmed as conceived from those inseminated, Mike programmed a computer model to compare 21-day pregnancy rates. Inputs such as dry period length, cull risk, milk production, etc. were kept as constant and the model was run over many iterations (Monte Carlo method) under one figure for Pregnancy Rate. He then improved IR by 10% and saw the returns in the model. At varying milk prices, the returns varied, increasing with increasing milk price and decreasing with increasing pregnancy rate.
As efficiency increases (PR increases), the returns decrease, which happens in many biological systems. Think of when you exercise: you can make big improvements when you start but as you get more fit, gains become more marginal.
By understanding the inputs and particularly culling costs, it is possible to maximise the profits of a dairy using well-targeted reproductive advice.
*Proceedings of XVI Congress of ANEMBE, Spain (2011)