Étienne Gosselin | Agronomist | Journalist
Even if you think you've reached a plateau, can you still make more--and better--use of your assets?
Dairy farms are in debt and must improve their performance. It's harder to make a profit. However, for the past few decades, production has fluctuated up or down a few percentage points, which results in herds that grow slowly or regress under the effect of increasing productivity per animal.
It's been just the opposite since January 1, 2015, says Jean Brisson, a dairy production expert at Valacta. The market is up and producers are given quotas and margins, a right to produce that's up 21% for the past 3 years. However, 1 in 3 dairy farms isn't able to produce this surplus quota, according to figures from the Producteurs de lait du Québec.
"The signal to produce more milk and fat was clearly understood by Quebec dairy farmers. Last December, they delivered very high-quality milk that's incredibly rich in fat, with an average of 4.22 kg/hl," says Brisson. "However, farmers have achieved a productivity level that they don't think they can exceed anymore, have overflowing barns or aren't producing all of their quota."
New training from Valacta, presented in collaboration with Desjardins Business, is offering solutions to produce more milk more efficiently.
Training that's tailored....
The "Optimize with what I've got" training is helping dairy farmers take a closer look at these challenges, depending on their situation, data and variables.
The solutions offered throughout the training are often common to all businesses. Other solutions require a self-evaluation. There are many examples, such as moving to 3 milkings a day, improving milk persistency, taking non-lactating cows out of the main barn, ensuring a better transition period and looking at how they are being fed.
"We've created engaging training with exercises, testimonials from farmers who've tried out various alternatives, discussions and more instructive segments to respond to the frequent question of how to optimize production within the particular context of each business," says Annik Perron, from the Valacta dairy production centre of expertise.
René Gagnon, an agronomist and business development manager for Desjardins Business, adds his point of view. "Farmers have a picture of their business, but it's good to challenge that vision and share their ways of doing things in training sessions offered in small groups of about 15 people each time," says Gagnon, who attended one of the training sessions last December.
Some 100 participants have already attended the training and are implementing new approaches that are increasing revenues and making the most of assets currently in place--namely, the milk reservoir!
How: Training sessions are 4 hours long and conveniently given between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Where: All regions of Quebec
When: Late November 2017 to April 2018
To register: Speak to your Valacta advisor or call 1-800-266-5248