A linear program (LP) model analysed resource use on a 100 ha dairy farm. A single optimum-profit combination was established for resources which were either optimised or constrained. It was found that, with a fixed herd of 320 milking cows, when production increased from 305 kg milksolids per cow (kg MS/cow) to 415 kg MS/cow, cash profit increased by 65%. This required additional supplements. If, however, feed demand and supply were optimised at 415 kg MS/cow, the LP reduced milking cow number rather than buy in feed to meet the increased feed demand from higher production per cow. At all production levels chosen between 305 and 415 kgMS/cow, it was most economic to dry off and cull cows early in dry summers to optimise feed demand vs. feed grown; use nitrogen (N) fertiliser to avoid a feed deficit only when response rates of better than 10 kgDM to 1 kg N could be expected; not use N for growing supplements to harvest. Pasture cover, within defined constraint levels, provided a buffer for feed demand and supply fluctuations. The study highlights the importance of assessing production, income and cost in an integrated framework to identify the point at which individual resources become limiting.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 70, Palmerston North, 291-295, 2010
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