Power and machinery costs

I believe this may have been discussed before by the multitude of crops for a relatively small herd is gonna be a perennial pain in the chuff. You will be in a tractor virtually all year round with grass, reseed, kale, cereals for wholecrop, maize and also beet is being discussed? This is gonna be quite a pick and mix of stuff and all small acreages too. Your contractor is gonna be keen to come to you spraying virtually several times per month for your cereals, maize and 3 acres of beet? He must be in love with you or something.

There will be members on this forum with high yielding cows who grow none of it besides the grass. Keep your life simple and look at margin per litre as well as margin per cow. With the proposed system and trying to do even any of it yourself you are gonna be hopping on and off a tractor month after month and tractors are not a source of income to most of the dairy farmers I know, they are an expense. If you really and truthfully like tractors there is no shame in that but do you really need to keep cows for that?
 

farmer JD

Member
I believe this may have been discussed before by the multitude of crops for a relatively small herd is gonna be a perennial pain in the chuff. You will be in a tractor virtually all year round with grass, reseed, kale, cereals for wholecrop, maize and also beet is being discussed? This is gonna be quite a pick and mix of stuff and all small acreages too. Your contractor is gonna be keen to come to you spraying virtually several times per month for your cereals, maize and 3 acres of beet? He must be in love with you or something.

There will be members on this forum with high yielding cows who grow none of it besides the grass. Keep your life simple and look at margin per litre as well as margin per cow. With the proposed system and trying to do even any of it yourself you are gonna be hopping on and off a tractor month after month and tractors are not a source of income to most of the dairy farmers I know, they are an expense. If you really and truthfully like tractors there is no shame in that but do you really need to keep cows for that?
Well summarised
 

Suckndiesel

Member
Location
Newtownards
There's no reason you won't get grass into a pit for £60/acre assuming a 6t/acre crop via a contractor
That's £10/t
I'll let someone with better idea give accurate figures, but I don't reckon you'll get 2 x 500kg bales baled and wrapped for a tenner, let alone the mowing, tedding, raking, loading hauling and stacking
reckon 3 bales/acre worked out the same as chopping/acre, takes a brave light crop to only be 3 bales/acre
 
Location
West Wales
£60/acre for foraging plus trailers would be £9,000 over the course of the year for 660t of silage
Plus extra trailers for the loads further away

Assuming a bale of silage is 650kg that would be 1015 bales which is 7 rolls of net and 34 rolls of plastic. Assuming 30 bales an hour would be 34 hours work which at £20/hour for fuel and the tractor plus £2/hour rapid cost would equal £680 then £1,000 on net and £2000 on wrap, and £3,000 baler depreciation = £6,780
Then haulage for bales is £820 assuming 17 bales/load and 2 loads an hour for stuff close to the dairy and 1 load an hour for stuff further away
Total = £7,600

It's just wether it's worth the hassle...
But I can cut a field as and when it's ready and would need the baler for hay anyway?
honestly don’t think you’ll do two loads an hour. Half hour to get the tractor ready, bale squeeze on handler, moving between machines etc etc.
 
Location
East Mids
£60/acre for foraging plus trailers would be £9,000 over the course of the year for 660t of silage
Plus extra trailers for the loads further away

Assuming a bale of silage is 650kg that would be 1015 bales which is 7 rolls of net and 34 rolls of plastic. Assuming 30 bales an hour would be 34 hours work which at £20/hour for fuel and the tractor plus £2/hour rapid cost would equal £680 then £1,000 on net and £2000 on wrap, and £3,000 baler depreciation = £6,780
Then haulage for bales is £820 assuming 17 bales/load and 2 loads an hour for stuff close to the dairy and 1 load an hour for stuff further away
Total = £7,600

It's just wether it's worth the hassle...
But I can cut a field as and when it's ready and would need the baler for hay anyway?
We pay £48.50/acre to our contractor for silaging (chopper). that is for mowing, rowing, chopping, carting, clamp work AND CHUCKING TYRES. Same for first and second cut. They supply fuel.

Lost 3rd cut to the weather last year, but 2018 was 39 acres, it was an incredibly dry year so a very light crop. Baling, wrapping, carting, stacking alone comes to £13.10/bale (costs that are the same per bale irrespective of the size of crop).
 
Last edited:

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
Makes me smile that no one ever considers the quality of the product in the clamp v bale, or DIY v Contractor debates.
If the better silage gives you just 1 extra litre/cow for 100 days, for a 150 cow herd, that's about £4000 pounds worth of milk! More than enough to pay for a couple rolls of wrap or a p/o buck rake!
Or the capital cost of the pits.

I can mix my silage by picking up different bales from different piles. In fact I have 5 different "pits" or piles.
 

Jdunn55

Member
Ok ok, let's look at this from a different angle, theres only a certain amount of times you can be told the same thing!

The only crops I'm sold on are grass (obviously), forage rape for late lactation and wholecrop for the dry period.

Everything else are only ideas that I'm by no means 100% wanting to grow.

I need to buffer feed in order to keep the number of cows I require in order to make a living and pay off any debt and hopefully save some money.

Theres 120 acres at each farm. At the dairy 100 acres is assigned as dairy cow grazing/rape/wholecrop (including 10 acres of silage ground across the road). The remaining 140 acres is up for ideas (120 at the other farm and 20 at the dairy farm).

Heifers have grazing elsewhere so dont need to be accounted for.

What would you do with the 140 acres? But:
I need enough ground for atleast 40 suckler cows + calves (these belong to my dad and are non-negotiable) (grazing and hay - not silage)
And 135 ewes (also non-negotiable because they are my babies)
35 acres can only be grazed by sheep or made into silage/corn/maize etc due to no water (sheep would have an ibc carried to them)

What rotation? what would be used as buffer feed?
What would be used as a break crop and I would like to avoid spring grass reseeds if possible.

Go!
 

Jdunn55

Member
You need more land
How much?
By my calculations I should have enough.
60 acres for sheep and suckler cows leaves 80 acres.
Assuming I require 900t of silage for the dairy cows throughout the year and 15t/acre = 60 acres
20 acres for calves and heifers left with 260t required but there should be 195t produced from the field across the road and from reseeds (I like o cut them once before grazing)
Meaning a requirement of 65t which is 5 acres worth
Leaving 15 acres spare.
But that's not including any reseeding or any winter grazing for heifers and suckler cows.
 
Location
southwest
Like I said, keep it mostly grass. Even average grass, down for several years will produce cheaper (and usually better) feed over the season than expensive to grow annual crops like maize or fodder beet. Grow a bit of Red clover (3/4 year leys) for cutting and drought insurance. Spring Barley (wholecrop) followed rape/kale or Red Clover or a grass reseed.
 

Jdunn55

Member
Like I said, keep it mostly grass. Even average grass, down for several years will produce cheaper (and usually better) feed over the season than expensive to grow annual crops like maize or fodder beet. Grow a bit of Red clover (3/4 year leys) for cutting and drought insurance. Spring Barley (wholecrop) followed rape/kale or Red Clover or a grass reseed.
Red clover is a big part of my plan, I've just drilled 25 acres into some silage ground, and next year plan on putting in 40+ acres for grazing (under a gs4 agreement) I'm hoping to get away with just direct drilling most of it into existing leys.
 

Jdunn55

Member
I presume the kale is for grazing during the dry summer months and tiding the cows over in late lactation? If so, that is a cheap and easy crop to get going and will give an excellent entry into a grass reseed of whatever you like. I suppose you could do wheat behind it even.
I cut the kale a while ago just due to the fact that I dotn have enough land for it and I'm not convinced it is that great a crop for dairy cows (happy to be told otherwise though!) and during the summer I need to be getting the most I can from my cows as that's when I'm paid the most for any milk produced.
The rape (possibly even a rape-kale hybrid?!) Was for late lactation (October-December at 15kg/cow/day - assuming 10t/acre yield).
 

Martyn

Member
Location
South west
Thats great thankyou, I think my fuel bill is currently forecast at £14,000 which is a fair chunk 😱
if it helps we do our own silage all our tillage work we use contractors for slurry and hedge trimming and run a feeder wagon for the cows twelve months fuel just under six grand thats sixty acres corn plus sixty acres reseed and similar cows your thinking about
 

More to life

Member
Location
Somerset
Ok ok, let's look at this from a different angle, theres only a certain amount of times you can be told the same thing!

The only crops I'm sold on are grass (obviously), forage rape for late lactation and wholecrop for the dry period.

Everything else are only ideas that I'm by no means 100% wanting to grow.

I need to buffer feed in order to keep the number of cows I require in order to make a living and pay off any debt and hopefully save some money.

Theres 120 acres at each farm. At the dairy 100 acres is assigned as dairy cow grazing/rape/wholecrop (including 10 acres of silage ground across the road). The remaining 140 acres is up for ideas (120 at the other farm and 20 at the dairy farm).

Heifers have grazing elsewhere so dont need to be accounted for.

What would you do with the 140 acres? But:
I need enough ground for atleast 40 suckler cows + calves (these belong to my dad and are non-negotiable) (grazing and hay - not silage)
And 135 ewes (also non-negotiable because they are my babies)
35 acres can only be grazed by sheep or made into silage/corn/maize etc due to no water (sheep would have an ibc carried to them)

What rotation? what would be used as buffer feed?
What would be used as a break crop and I would like to avoid spring grass reseeds if possible.

Go!
This will help you with your planning, once you start milking the suck cows and sheep will be totally negotiable so budget selling them now. I know you won’t and that’s fair enough but remember this when they go.
 

jimmer

Member
Location
East Devon
Ok ok, let's look at this from a different angle, theres only a certain amount of times you can be told the same thing!

The only crops I'm sold on are grass (obviously), forage rape for late lactation and wholecrop for the dry period.

Everything else are only ideas that I'm by no means 100% wanting to grow.

I need to buffer feed in order to keep the number of cows I require in order to make a living and pay off any debt and hopefully save some money.

Theres 120 acres at each farm. At the dairy 100 acres is assigned as dairy cow grazing/rape/wholecrop (including 10 acres of silage ground across the road). The remaining 140 acres is up for ideas (120 at the other farm and 20 at the dairy farm).

Heifers have grazing elsewhere so dont need to be accounted for.

What would you do with the 140 acres? But:
I need enough ground for atleast 40 suckler cows + calves (these belong to my dad and are non-negotiable) (grazing and hay - not silage)
And 135 ewes (also non-negotiable because they are my babies)
35 acres can only be grazed by sheep or made into silage/corn/maize etc due to no water (sheep would have an ibc carried to them)

What rotation? what would be used as buffer feed?
What would be used as a break crop and I would like to avoid spring grass reseeds if possible.

Go!
Why are you wanting to go dairy farming?
 

Jdunn55

Member
This will help you with your planning, once you start milking the suck cows and sheep will be totally negotiable so budget selling them now. I know you won’t and that’s fair enough but remember this when they go.
I was being cryptic
@More to life sums it up
It's not the money I want it's the cows. The sucklers arent mine and have already been halved in numbers but dad wants to keep them to give him something to do. We've spent the past 15 years breeding them to try and get a decent herd and were finally there.

I appreciate what you're saying but I expect that they'll be going nowhere
 

jimmer

Member
Location
East Devon
With the amount of acres you have accessible and the cow numbers you are looking at and the difficulty of trying to graze efficiently and having to buffer throughout the year, I would say making preserved forage will be your number one priority
 

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