Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 3:45 PM
2104B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Hector A Delgado , McGill University, Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada
Roger I Cue , McGill University, Department of Animal Science, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada
Asheber Sewalem , Agriculture and Agri-food Canada AAFC, Guelph, ON, Canada
René Lacroix , Valacta, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada
Daniel Lefevre , Valacta, Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada
Emile Bouchard , University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada
Denis Haine , University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada
Kevin Wade , McGill University, Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada
Abstract Text:

In Quebec, management of dairy herds is affected by various combinations of milking systems (Milk Line, Milking Parlor or Milking Robot), housing systems (Tie-Stall or Free-Stall), and feeding systems (Traditional Feeding, Automatic Forage Distribution, Automatic Concentrate Distribution, Computerized Automatic Concentrate Distribution, Automatic Silage and Concentrate Distribution, and Total Mixed Ration).  The objective of this research was to determine if there were differences in the lifetime profitability of dairy cows, based on common Quebec management conditions, specifically with regard to their associated production and health costs.

Grouping the three variables resulted in eight existing management combinations that contained data (e.g., Milk Line + Tie-Stall + Total Mixed Ration).  Health and production data for individual animals were provided by the Quebec Animal Health Files (DSA) and Quebec DHI (Valacta), respectively.  Herds were required to have at least twelve calvings per year, resulting in a data set of seventy Holstein herds with both health and production data for the period 2000-2010 inclusive.  Individual cumulative values by parity, as well as the last cumulative lifetime record, were computed for each animal. Four profitability measures were examined to account for different criteria such as variable costs, opportunity costs and discounted net present value, and mixed-model methodologies were used to test differences among those profitability measures for the different management combinations.

Of the seventy herds, fifty-eight used a milk line, seven used a milking parlour, and five used robotic milkers.  There were significant differences among the management combinations for the four different profitability measures examined. Management groups associated with a milking parlour had the lowest estimated lifetime cumulative feed cost: $3,968 (+/- 73), versus $4,297 (+/- 36) for milk lines and $4,057 (+/-86) for robotic milkers; they also had animals with an earlier age at first calving (1.1 months earlier than those in groups with milk lines).  Management groups with robotic milkers had the lowest lifetime cumulative health cost, explained in part by the lower average number of mastitis events per animal per parity: 0.12 (+/- 0.034) versus 0.20 (+/- 0.028) for milking parlour groups and 0.23 (+/-0.020) for milk line groups. There were significant variations in profitability measures of milk-line groups that were attributable to feeding system.  Variation in lifetime profitability of individual animals is, therefore, not only explained by the obvious feed and health factors, but also by the various management systems in which they occur. 

Keywords: Profitability, Management, Dairy cows