A herd average of 1,000 gallons with a profit margin over feed costs of £100 per cow – figures like these and others of the same high standard are not unusual in the farm record books of Mr Peter Loughran, of Dungate, Dunnamore, Cookstown.
Last year his herd average was 1,100 gallons and each of his 17 cows gave a profit margin just under the £100 mark over feed costs. Feeding for high yields and drastic culling is Mr Loughran’s philosophy for successful dairying.
“I believe it is worthwhile feeding for high production,” he pointed out. “You might as well have all the profit there is going.”
He prefers a 17 per cent protein dairy meal. “I did try a brand with a higher protein but the results were about the same and the extra cost could not be justified.
“I wouldn’t keep a cow if she didn’t give at least five gallons. A good cow is always worth buying; even at today’s price a good cow is not expensive. And a cull will always fetch a high price when sold fat.”
Last year Mr Loughran culled five cows and, as he finds rearing heifers uneconomical, buying-in will be the future policy for all replacements.
The Loughran holding comprises a total of 35 acres. However, only 22 acres might be termed arable or suitable for grazing. This means that, without resorting to an intensive grassland programme, Mr Loughran is running a cow to 1.3 acres.
He has sound reasons for not increasing his stocking rate. “I have two other easily managed lines which fit nicely into the work schedule one man can comfortably handle,” Mr Loughran explained.
In part of the buildings which were formerly used to accommodate his heifers the first arrivals of 80 fattening pigs have been “placed in residence”.
He points out: “This side of the farm business doesn’t take much time. Five minutes would feed all 80 pigs. I’m told 35 shillings could be made on each one but I don’t know yet how they will work out.”
The third enterprise is somewhat unique. This is Mr Loughran’s fourth year with 1,200 breeding poultry which are grandparent stock of Chunky Chick broilers.
“Unlike parent stock owners, I’m only allowed to keep a limited number of birds,” Mr Loughran stated. The profit margin for breeding stock owners, according to the Cookstown farmer, can be 30 shillings per bird.
“Management is fairly straight-forward – food and light are geared to a strict programme. These docile birds are a pleasure to work with.”