Agricultural Addition Issue 21 AutumnWinter 2017-18 - page 5

addition
agriculture
• autumn 17 • Issue 21
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5
MEASUREMENT AND
MANAGEMENT –
WHICH COMES FIRST?
There is an old adage that says you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Measurement
comes in two forms, physical and financial. As accountants we encourage farmers to keep
a close eye on the money coming in and going out of their business.
Remaining successful in
this difficult economic
climate means keeping
up with developments in
management techniques.
For example at a recent
Mole Valley Farmers
Calf Conference experts
highlighted the need
for farmers to shift their
attention from feed cost
per head pre-weaning and
instead focus on return on
investment.
As an example, Dr Alex
Bach pointed out that
“calves early in life have 60%
feed efficiency, so for every
1kg of feed or milk powder
consumed, you get 600g of
gain. When they’re 657-700
days old, feed efficiency is
7% so, now for every kilo
you only get 70g of gain.”
Successful business people
have a solid grasp of the
key numbers, with farms,
an in-depth analysis of
any system reveals several
interconnected variables
that need to be measured
and managed to achieve
ongoing success.
For example, with calf
rearing the type and
percentage of protein and
fat needs to be considered,
the mixing rate for the
milk replacer, the volume
of feed, and effect of
these on growth rate and
the cost/kilo established,
before arriving at a chosen
solution.
After weaning any set-
backs mean wasting the
gains made in the pre-
weaning period. Regular
weighing will indicate
if the chosen feed and
management regime is
effective. Keep up the
measuring even when the
animals are out at grass
or assessment of grazing
management will not be
effective and again could
lead to expensive losses in
either growth rate or worse
still actual weight loss.
Animals need an increasing
percentage of their daily
intake of feed just to
maintain their current body
weight, the slower their
growth rate the more of
their lifetime food intake is
taken up with covering this
maintenance requirement.
This needs to be factored
into the costings and
evaluation of rearing
systems.
Simple solutions can often
be identified, for example,
at the same conference
Dr Bach noted that
“Offering calves chopped
straw alongside starter
pellets maximizes
concentrate intakes and
growth, and that’s a very
nice, very cheap and very
effective thing to do.“
If you would like some
help in identifying savings
please let us know.
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