Cattle farmers and dairy farmers consider animal health as the first factor in care

Cattle and dairy farmers prioritize animal health as the number one care factor on their farms, ahead of the price of milk and beef, according to a new survey.

While milk and beef prices came in second, beef and dairy producers also rate animal happiness as one of their units’ most important care factors.

Based on the average response of all responses received, cow health was the most important factor for dairy farmers (18%), ahead of milk price (15%) and cow happiness at 14 %.

Beef producers scored similarly, with animal health at 20%, ahead of beef price and animal happiness, both at 16%.

The survey was commissioned by supplier KW Feeds, to understand farmers’ attitudes towards their herd, their feed and their feeding strategies in the face of unprecedented price increases.

“What this survey reveals is that our breeders are refreshingly recognizing the direct correlation between a healthy, happy herd and a profitable herd,” says Georgie Croxford, the company’s ruminant technical manager.

Across beef and dairy producers, 81% of farmers said feed origin and carbon footprint were important, with 95% of those who gave this rating aiming to buy UK produce as far as possible.

This despite the fact that the majority of respondents (66%) are not yet required to meet sustainability requirements or environmental objectives as part of their contract.

Only 50% of them are currently asked to measure their on-farm carbon footprint through various audit requirements, mainly managed by milk processor assessments.

With 85% of dairy farmers incorporating grazing into their feeding system, and most beef farmers grazing throughout the animal’s life cycle, the types of feed used on the farm were similar, feed mainly compounds (78%) and mixtures (59%) in their rations. Cattle breeders fed mainly mash (60%).

Despite skyrocketing input and production costs, most respondents (74%) had no plans to change their current foods.

However, of those who were, almost half (47%) said they wanted to use more grass and fodder.

However, the long dry summer has meant tight forage supplies and variable quality silage as we head into winter feeding, Ms Croxford warned.

“Forage should be supplemented with minerals, energy sources and protein,” she says.

“British co-products, for example, such as NovaPro rapeseed ejector and Vivergo wheat distillers, can help improve protein utilization and allow producers to get the most out of forage-based rations or grass silage.”

Boyd S. Abbott