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Farmers warned over milk yields; Farm & Country.

Byline: David Lloyd Farming Correspondent

DATA published by NMR - previously known as National Milk Records - shows that an increase in the calving index could cost dairy farmers money.

It has been revealed that for the country as a whole the average calving interval has crept up to 402 days - seven days more than in 1998 - and this trend has been mirrored in the regions.

Cheshire and Lancashire are above the national average at 408 days and 409 days respectively. This means average calving intervals have increased by eight days in Cheshire and by six in Lancashire over the past three years.

NMR's Mike Blanshard said: "Farmers may be making a conscious decision to increase lactation lengths, particularly in high yielding herds.

"An increased lactation value and lower calf prices are both good reasons for this, but farmers should consider the effect on lifetime yields - they could be replacing the number of days when a cow would be in peak production, giving 35 or 40 kg a day, with more end of lactation days where 10kg would be nearer the norm."

The effect of this over four years could be a difference of 3,000kg of milk - or pounds 570 based on a milk price of 19p per litre.

For other herds, NMR believe that the latest data warns where fertility is slipping and cows showing signs of heat are not being spotted. This would lead to longer periods from calving to conception and extended calving intervals.

The foot-and-mouth epidemic will also have an effect on calving to conception data, with inseminators having been unable to get on to farms and NMR will be monitoring the impact of this over the next few months.

There has also revealed been an increase in the average size of NMR herds. Nationally the current herd size is 122 cows - an increase of 20pc since 1998.

Over the same period Cheshire herds have increased by 16pc to average 144; Lancashire's by a bumper 29pc to 112 cows; and in the West Midlands by 18pc to 128.

Supersires, the national cattle breeding company, has launched a new division, Supersires Direct.

By contacting a dedicated freephone line, farmers can place orders for semen from a range of proven dairy and beef bulls.

"It's a way of helping the farmer save time and money, " says Supersires general manger John Lewis.

He says farmers will be familiar with many of the names in the Supersires Direct catalogue so they will need little explanation - just an efficient order taking and delivery service.

Bulls available range from beef sires at pounds 4.50 to the popular Ugela Bell son, Italie Masc, at pounds 15.

Other dairy breeds, including Brown Swiss, are also available.

Mr Lewis says the new division gives the company a shop window for more of their wide pool of bulls.

Apart from saving time and money, the convenience of being able to place orders 24 hours a day and safer biosecurity are important factors.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 22, 2001
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