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Try Before You Buy

Try Before You Buy

Farmers should stop focusing on the dairy payout or meat schedules and look at smart management options to improve profitability, according to farm business specialist Peter Floyd.

Farm gate prices will always fluctuate, he says, but there is an array of strategies that can be tailored to improve financial performance for individual farm businesses:
- Calving/lambing dates – would they be more profitable earlier, or later?
- Drying off patterns – half in January and the rest in May, or all in April, or what?
- Herd/flock size – what is the optimum for your property, staffing, finances?
- Once a day milking – sounds like a great idea but will it work for you?
- Breed types – Jerseys, Friesians, Finns, composites?
- Supplementary feeds – would you do better on an all-grass regime?
- Nitrogen – how much do you really need, and when, for greatest profit?
- Grazing on or off – which is most profitable for your business?

Floyd says that farmers may have seen their neighbours doing some of these things and may be tempted to try them too, but he cautions that each farmer must determine what is best for their situation.

“Just because you went to a field day on their property and the adviser seemed to think it was a good idea, it doesn’t mean that you will profit by following along,” says Floyd.

“’Suck it and see’ is no longer an option. It’s too expensive, and we now have business technology available that allows you to predict the outcome before you make significant changes.”

Every management option can be simulated and analysed for each individual farm business to see whether it would be worth the effort and expense. Profit-focused analyses using business tools allow farmers to “try before they buy”.

“Let’s face it – if you can forecast the effect of any change in management practice in terms of profit per MJ of ME or per kg of DM consumed daily by stock, then why would you base important decisions on guesswork, incomplete information or what someone else thinks or does?” asks Floyd.

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