Dairy farmers can now access the online version of AHDB Dairy’s heifer rearing cost calculator to work out how much it is costing to rear heifers on their specific farm.
Speaking at a recent Calf to Calving event, Dorset, AHDB Dairy’s dairy senior scientist Dr Jenny Gibbons said farmers had much to gain from calculating costs for their farm, particularly as a recent Royal Veterinary College and AHDB study revealed that rearing costs varied anywhere from an average of £1,800/heifer, up to £3,000/heifer.
The calculator splits out the rearing period into three stages: birth to weaning, weaning to conception and conception to calving.
Farmers can then input various parameters such as target age at first calving, average heifer first lactation yields, forage growing inputs, forage quality and milk and concentrate use.
A cost for each stage and a total cost is then calculated.
Dr Gibbons said: “The more informed you are, the better business decisions you can make and this calculator enables you to work out your costs, allowing you to focus on specific areas where you can make savings.”
The emphasis was placed on achieving the following growth rates:
Dr Gibbons noted that good husbandry and nutrition were key to hitting these targets, which could potentially bring significant cost savings if adhered to.
In the future, AHDB is aiming to use the calculator as a benchmarking tool as part of AHDB Dairy’s Calf to Calving initiative.