The objective of this research was to study the physical and financial performance of commercial dairy farms in New Zealand that differed in the amount of extra feed used. Data from Dexcel’s ProfitWatch corresponding to 626 owner-operated dairy farms between 1998/1999 and 2001/2002 were analysed. The data were classified according to each of the four dairy seasons and the extra feed used per cow. Extra feed comprised supplements imported (hay, pasture silage, maize silage, concentrates and other feeds), winter grazing and maize silage grown on the farm. The statistical analyses were done in SAS and comprised analyses of variance and regression analyses. High feed input farms (H farms, 740-940 kg extra DM /cow/year) had higher stocking rates (2.7-2.8 vs 2.4-2.5 cows/ha), lower comparative stocking rate (83-86 vs 83-92 kg live weight/t DM), and higher milksolids (MS) production per cow (293-341 vs 249-295 kg MS/cow) and per hectare (826-921 vs 616-744 kg/ha) than low feed input farms (L farms, 20 kg DM extra feed/cow/year). The use of nitrogen fertiliser was also higher in the H farms than in L farms (85-116 vs 53-67 kg N/ha/year). There were no significant differences in farm size, herd breeding worth, reproductive characteristics of the herds and estimated pasture consumed per hectare. On average, extra feed was significantly associated with extra cows (0.17 extra cows/ha for 1 t extra DM) and extra milk solids (50 g extra MS/cow for 1 kg extra DM/cow and 96 g extra MS/ha for 1 kg extra DM/ha), but the wide variability is shown by the low values for R2 (0.13 to 0.16 for the three relations above). The H farms produced higher gross farm incomes per hectare (by $0.47 to $0.49/kg extra DM offered) but had higher farm working expenses per hectare (by $0.36 to $0.37/kg extra DM offered), so that Economic Farm Surplus per hectare was not higher for these farms in any year. High management skills and control of costs are necessary for profit to be increased by the use of extra feeds. KEYWORDS: low-input; high-input; extra feed.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, Christchurch, 63-67, 2005
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