SWEDEN – Each open day costs European farmers an average of €3 Euros per animal.
Shorter calving intervals and heat detection are therefore critical to farm profitability, a dairy industry conference heard this week.
Many different European studies have calculated open day cost per cow with €3 being an average, according to Cecilia Bågenvik, from Delaval's farm management support systems team.
For this reason, heat detection systems are worthwhile as they help profits and herd management because of selectivity through the herd.
“A manual heat detection system might find 50-60 per cent of animals on heat, meaning you have to breed on all the heats you find,” she told TheDairySite.
“A good heat detection system can find 95-100 per cent of heats, allowing you to be more selective.”
Selectivity allows calving to be spaced out to suit staff or delaying pregnancy in the case of a high producing animal, she explained.
“Good heat detection systems allow you to wait 21 days because you can be confident you will find the next heat.”
Furthermore, early pregnancy avoids the reduction in feed efficiency seen later in lactation.
She prescribed 12 months calving intervals as a good herd average, adding: “If your herd calving interval is 14 months you will have more cows in the late lactation period and these cows are not as profitable due to low production, regardless of whether they have a lot of feed.”
Explaining the €3 figure, she said: “This ranges from €2 to around €5, depending where you are in the world and the markets as well as semen price, milk prices and feed costs, we can say this is a good average.”