Minimum input cost - maximum profitability

The importance of milk recording can never be over-emphasised. It is indeed one of the most important factors that can influence the profitability of a dairy farming enterprise.

It is, in fact, an interesting task and presents the producer with a wealth of information that enables him to keep his finger on the pulse of his business.

Milk recording scheme data not only facilitate better herd management and planning but benefit the entire dairy industry.

Remember, the higher the number of herds on milk recording, the more accurate the information so generated with greater benefits for all.

Furthermore, participation does not require exceptional skills. As a matter of fact, milk recording is such a simple task. The farmer only needs to keep very basic records such as event dates. Test day milk weights of each cow in a participating herd are measured and milk samples taken, every five weeks, throughout the lactation. The samples are taken to a central collection point, from where they are transported to the laboratory. At the laboratory, the samples are analysed for butterfat and protein. The results are electronically merged with the milk weights, various calculations are carried out and production reports are produced and sent to the farmer. It is as easy as that and well worth the cost. The farmer pays for the delivery and testing of the samples, control and maintenance of standards and processing of the data.

Definitely a worthwhile investment, especially if the real benefits are quantified.

Milk recording is of immense value, not only to the individual farmer, but the entire dairy industry. It actually yields benefits of national interest. In terms of gross value, the dairy industry is the fourth largest contributor to agricultural output in South Africa. With more benefits getting realised from milk recording, the industry can grow even larger. Indeed, milk recording has wide scope for development, even beyond the country's borders.

The efficient production of milk and high quality dairy products, which result from the use of milk recording information, will make our country more competitive on the international market. Milk recording can also contribute indirectly to the meat market, if it results in more animals being culled. In addition to improved product quality, the dairy industry is also in a better position to plan effectively from information generated through the milk recording scheme.

Additional benefits, especially for the producer, can be summarised as follows:

  • The actual production per lactation of milk, butterfat and protein is established for each cow, thus providing essential quantitative and qualitative information.

  • The genetic potential of animals is determined through estimated BLUP breeding values.

  • Herd genetic trends over years are determined, which gives an indication of the herd's genetic progress.

  • Environmental trends, established through BLUP analyses, can also be used as an aid to management.

  • By utilising breeding values and genetic trends, a planned breeding policy can be followed, in order to meet market requirements.

  • Problems within the herd are pin-pointed. For example, somatic cell counts indicate udder health status.

  • The general management of the farm, herd and dairy is improved.

  • The farmer can aim for and accomplish more accurate record keeping.

  • Accurate selection will, in time, raise the standard of herds and the national population.

Even more…

In addition, producers who join the Milk Recording Scheme get:

An increase in the value of their animals
Buyers are inclined to pay more for animals where additional information such as performance test results and breeding values is available.

To join is simple:
All that needs to be done is apply to ARC Animal Improvement Institute for participation. One prerequisite is that you need to be a member of either Taurus Co-op or National Independent Quality Laboratories. Once application is approved, the farmer receives training on how to conduct a milk recording test from ARC technicians. After this, he is included in the normal pick-up route.

ARC technicians can do the test for you.
Not all farmers can afford the time and/or manpower to do milk recording tests. ARC technicians would be more than glad to do the test for you. In such a case, you will have to pay a fee for the service, plus the mileage costs.

How quickly are results obtained?
Should the farmer have e-mail facilities, results may be sent to him electronically, as soon as they are produced.

Test-day results are posted within two weeks and production certificates within a month from test day. Breeding values are produced biannually.

A summary of lactations completed within a specific test year are printed and sent to the respective herd owner, at the end of the test year. Breed and herd averages are published and made available to the industry annually.

The ARC Animal Improvement Institute has six regional offices, namely Stellenbosch, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Irene, Cedara and Vryburg. These offices serve participants in their respective regions.

ARC's partners in milk recording are:


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