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An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production. The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply. It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. Farm system change has been developed over many years by Consultant Bryan McKay of Dairy Production Systems who says he has compiled up to six years of data from 18 farms to show it is workable and profitable. Mr McKay reports that running fewer, more productive cows means feed use is higher and lowers the farm’s environmental footprint, helping it meet climate change and freshwater requirements. The farms are also profitable. In the low milk payout of 2015-16 McKay’s clients averaged profits of more than $2000 a hectare compared to average Dairy Base farms, which recorded a loss. The key is to treat cows as a central processing unit and that means ensuring they operate efficiently and are fuelled with correct volume of high-quality feed.
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