The demand for high quality dairy products is estimated to increase by eight million tonnes from 2007 to 2014 the European Commission predicts. But during the past ten years nearly 50% of Europe’s dairy producers have left the dairy industry. How can dairy producers of Europe step up to the challenge of staying profitable and competitive at the same time as the cost to feed their animals is increasing rapidly?
As consumers of delicious caffe lattes, smooth milk shakes and fancy cheeses we never stop to think of what it would mean if the supply of high quality milk suddenly ended. No more ice cream or yoghurts! We all depend on dairy farmers for our daily fix of dairy products.
However, not many are aware that during the past ten years a large amount of Europe’s dairy producers have left the dairy industry. There are many reasons for this but in spite of that – the supply of milk has not decreased at the same speed
So how can this be explained? Does the modern dairy cow have eight teats instead of the normal four? No, the answer can be put down to two main things, farm consolidation and efficient dairy management. There may be fewer dairy farms and dairy cows, but by relying on effective dairy management milk producers can make more milk with fewer cows.
“How to make the most of business”
Dairy management, or “how to make the best use of my dairy operation”, is a complex business. It involves crop production, animal production, staffing, accounting and much, much more. As any owner of a business a dairy producer must have many talents.
Herd management is the integrated IT-system of dairy management that monitors and controls the milk production. Each hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it controls feeding, records milk yields, controls cow activity and gives the farmer immediate access to some very important information.
For many years feed costs have been the biggest expenses for dairy farmers, and even more so today. But with an efficient herd management system milk yields are optimised as it calculates the exact right feed ration for each individual cow, making sure she stays healthy and productive.
With the information supplied by herd management data software, dairy producers can find any problems that occur regarding milking, feeding, breeding and animal health. In other words, herd management is a business tool that involves decision making and supervising in order to get the best bottom line result.
Today there are dairy, herd and feed management systems, energy saving devices and products for optimising water use that can make a huge difference in improving animal health and financial and environmental sustainability.
Science fiction or reality?
So what is the next step in this area? What other options are there for dairy farmers to optimise their production of high quality milk and make sure our ice cream cravings can be satisfied?
In January 2008 the management tool for the future, Herd Navigator™ was launched in Denmark. This new herd management system represents a huge leap in technology. It will allow Danish milk producers to be the first in the world to identify significantly more cows in heat than can be seen with visual checks, to ensure that the cows are inseminated at the right time. And, it can spot udder infections before they affect the milk and the veterinarian bills.
The system also allows milk producers to find cows that are affected by different metabolic disorders before actual symptoms are visible. With this information they can take proactive action that will improve animal welfare and food safety.
So how is it done? The system automatically measures different components in the milk while the cows are being milked. The good news for dairy farmers is that by measuring and monitoring these parameters in the milk a great deal of money can be saved in many different areas as well as in feed costs.
European dairy farmers will for sure take on the challenge of delivering on the increased demand for high quality dairy products to all of us eager consumers. By using the technology at hand to leverage their business potential dairy producers will be able to deliver more milk with superb quality.
There will be no reason for any of us to cry over spilt milk.
Combined peak competences
Herd Navigator™, the first product of the FOSS & DeLaval Solutions brand, has been developed by FOSS A/S and DeLaval International AB together in their joint venture company Lattec I/S, in close co-operation with the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences Aarhus University, and with Dansk Kvæg which supports the solution with education, application and advisory services.
FOSS helps the milk and dairy industry to keep pace with their analysis demands. FOSS dedicated analytical solutions have proven significant for dairy herd improvement, raw milk testing, standardization in dairy production and verification of end-product quality. FOSS has been the market leader within this area for 50 years.
DeLaval develops and supplies milking and other farm equipment for dairy cows, sheep, goat, and buffalo farming. DeLaval drives progress in milk production by recognizing and serving farmers’ needs. DeLaval delivers complete solutions to empower their customers and give them better control of their business.
Dansk Kvæg (Danish Cattle Federation) is Denmark’s national umbrella organization for dairy and beef farming, the dairy and meat industries. The mission of Dansk Kvæg is to contribute to profitable dairy farming through advisory services, development and innovation, health programmes, quality improvement and political influence.
The power of three.
These peak competences together have created the unique Herd Navigator™ as a complete dairy management solution.