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Dairy Farmers in Ireland receive tips on how to reduce their superlevy bill
January 12, 2015

Farmers received some advice on how to reduce their superlevy bill in the last three months of milk quotas at the Irish Grassland’s Association’s annual dairy conference in Cork today.  Matt Ryan, an agri-consultant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, said that there are a large number of farmers facing very high superlevy bills. He had the following tips:

  • Lease freshly calved cows to under quota farmers to create a win-win situation for both farmers.
  • Milk cows once a day. Generally, Jersey cows are more suited to this compared to Holstein Friesians. A cow producing 15l of milk at 3.15% protein, 3.95% fat and feeding 20% silage and 3kg meal will lose €1.59/cow/day if milking twice a day in an over quota situation.
  • Cows should be inspected twice a day in the field or shed for problems such as mastitis, listlessness, milk fever, tetany etc.
  • Sell off freshly calved February cows.
  • Feed less meals. Every 1% reduction in ration protein percentage reduces milk yield by 0.2kg/day.
  • Lease quotas – an unlikely option at this stage, but farmers should talk to the co-op manager anyways.
  • Buy in calves to use up milk.
  • Contract rear neighbours calves – All disease/testing precautions must be observed for this option. Labour is also a constraint here.
  • Give milk or milking cows to a neighbour to feed his calves. The February milking cow will produce 700-1,000 litres of milk from calving to 1 April. She will create an enormous superlevy bill of approx. €250/cow compared with €60/cow for the March calver.
  • Try and include as much grass into the diet as possible as early as possible to reduce costs. This may mean finishing the first rotation 12-14 days early because supplementation is reduced.


Milking once a day
Joseph Leonard, 300 cow dairy farmer from Stamullen, Co. Meath and 2014 Nuffield scholar, is going to milk once a day (OAD) in February and March to maximise milk price. His herd is currently 32,552ltrs over quota. He did the same thing this time last year and found it worked well.

Cows produced 17.5l (1.5kg MS) at the end of March on OAD and after he switched back to twice a day the cows came back up in production to peak at 22.5l (1.92kg MS) on a grass only diet.

Another aspect of managing costs to reduce the effect of the super levy bill will be getting cows out to grass as soon as possible after calving and limiting supplementation. Leonard also feeds calves from birth once a day from the cow’s milk in the morning and finds this works well as it reduces labour requirement and he doesn’t have to invest in milk heating equipment. He says it’s crucial to give calves access to ad-lib fresh water, hay and meal from birth.


Source: Irish Farmers Journal



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