Optimised lifetime daily yield reveals hidden returns

Trouw Nutrition introduces HealthyLife: a new research program aimed at a healthy and sustainable increase of your milk production. The starting point is achieving more lactations per dairy cow, thus reducing your ecological footprint. Increasing lifetime daily yield (LDY) is key to this.

Positive lifetime daily yield trend

Lifetime daily yield is a practical and manageable key figure that looks beyond the cow's productive phase. The rearing period is also factored into the LDY. To determine the LDY, the following calculation can be used:

58104-TN Healthy Life tabel EN-1.png

Aim for an LDY of 20 kg of milk per day

However, the variation in LDY is still significant. In a collaboration between Trouw Nutrition and Countus, the economic data (years 2017-2019) were analysed to the balance level and the summary results per class were shared. These results show that in a group of farms, the LDY varies between 12.9 and 18.0 kg milk/daily yield. At the individual farm level, the variation is even greater with some dairy farmers achieving 22 kg milk/daily yield whereas other farms reach slightly more than 10 kg milk/daily yield. German research has shown that the goal should be a lifetime daily yield of at least 20 kg milk/daily yield to ensure maximum economic viability.

LDY can be increased by:

  1. Reducing the calving age
  2. Increasing milk production
  3. Extending the life span

Lifetime daily yield: calf rearing partly determines success

Calf rearing has a clear effect on lifetime daily yield. Trouw Nutrition research shows that intensively fed (LifeStart) calves reached the desired insemination weight sooner, calved earlier and had lower loss until calving in the 1st and 2nd lactation (Table 1) than the control group. In addition, both heifers and older calves in the LifeStart group showed increased production and milk with higher contents. This is explained by the metabolic programming which takes place at a young age and which, among other things, causes more udder tissue to develop.

58104-TN Healthy Life tabel EN-2.pngTable 1: LifeStart study into relationship between calf rearing and number of lactations

The lower loss rate not only means your work becomes more enjoyable and takes up less time. It also enables you to keep more animals and thus increase your farm's return. It also significantly reduces emissions per kilogram of milk at the farm level.

Cost of 75 EUR per animal

Countus' economic analysis also makes it clear that minimising the number of youngstock on the farm not always leads to a high LDY. Category of farms > 26 months shows the lowest LDY (Table 2), despite the lowest number of young stock and the highest age of dairy cows at cull. This group also has a lower feed return. Group of companies > in any case, 26 months shows a clear hidden return. At an average rearing cost of 2.50 EUR per day, delaying calving by one month results in a cost of 75 EUR per animal.

58104-TN Healthy Life tabel EN-3.pngTable 2: Animal performance per calving age. Source: Countus (2020)

A lower number of culled animals (ALVA) results in more production days per cow and therefore more milk. Research (Table 3) shows that intensive rearing also increases milk production in both 1st and 2nd lactation. So that's double the profit. The 3% higher milk production from this study also means an increase of 0.5 kg milk/day.

58104-TN Healthy Life tabel EN-4.pngTable 3. Effect of intensive rearing on dry matter intake and milk production in 1st and 2nd lactation (source: Allegiance Nutrition, 2020). Where a p-value <0.05 demonstrates significance.

Getting started: Complete the HealthyLife calculator

In summary, a focus on calf rearing yields both direct and indirect returns, resulting in a significant increase in lifetime daily yield. In short, LDY is a very interesting key figure for optimizing your business. Do you want to get started with lifetime daily yield? Complete our online HealthyLife calculator. The outcome of the calculator will give you concrete tips & tricks to increase lifetime daily yield. The result? From a healthy business to maximum returns. You do the math!

To the calculator


1 Sustainable Dairy in Europe, 2020

Food and Agriculture Organization & Global Dairy Platform, 2019