Industry advisers advocate a herd average body condition score (BCS) of 5 at calving to optimise profitability and system sustainability. However, the full value and cost of achieving the industry target has not been evaluated. Using the Farmax Dairy Pro model, the value of increasing the herd average BCS at calving from 4.0 to 5.0 was evaluated. A representative Waikato farm with a single dry off date in mid-May, with a herd average BCS of 4.0 at calving was modelled as the Base scenario. The profitability of seven alternative scenarios that achieved average herd BCS of 5.0 at calving were examined. Strategies that traded off autumn production to attain target BCS maintained a similar operating profit (OP) of -$46/ha to $3/ha, relative to the Base scenario. Partial season once-a-day milking increased OP by $220/ha to $269/ha, as long lactations and BCS targets were able to be achieved while reducing operating expenses. Additional supplements fed to dry cows to achieve target BCS increased OP by $43/ha. Additional mid-late lactation feeding increased OP by $139/ha to $269/ha, but only effected BCS by 0.15 units during lactation. These simulations indicate there is value in achieving recommended BCS targets, with multiple profitable strategies to do so.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 71, Invercargill, 17-22, 2011
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