10 Oct 2016
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The Cost of Rearing

Recent estimates of the cost of rearing have ranged from £1,000 to £1,500 and tend to average around £1,200. But to create a more accurate estimate and address an absence of definitive GB data on current heifer rearing practices and costs of rearing. AHDB Dairy funded a survey of 102 dairy farms across England, Scotland and Wales. 

The cost of rearing, including fixed and variable costs, interest on capital and other opportunity costs ranged from £1,073 to £3,070, with an average cost of £1,819 – considerably more than previous estimates. The daily cost of rearing per heifer ranged from £1.47 to £3.35 with an average of £2.31. Heifers paid back their cost of rearing on average by 1.5 lactations.

Feed was the largest contributor to costs. Excluding interest and opportunity cost, purchased feed and home grown forage contributed 43.7% to the total cost of rearing. Labour and bedding were the next two largest contributors, accounting for 22.3% and 8.7% of the total rearing costs respectively.

“Heifers represent an important investment in your dairy farm’s future. As with all investments, however, looking at costs as well as returns could pay dividends for your bottom line.”  Professor Claire Wathes, Royal Veterinary College

The factor identified as having the most significant effect on cost of rearing was age at first calving. The cost increased by £2.87 for each day increase in age at first calving.

Source:  AHDB Dairy Research into Practice booklet CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD