Two cows in a field

Plan to Succeed, not Fail!

Mark Youngs

Written by Mark Youngs

Mark Youngs is the principal consultant
for the Centre for Dairy Excellence.

Summer is the time for PAR! In other words, you ‘Planned’ and ‘Acted’ and now is the time to ‘Review’.

So, three simple questions to ask yourself and to discuss with your management team/business partners:

  1. Where are we and how did we get here?
  2. Where are we heading, and do we want to go there? If not, then where?
  3. What must we do to get this right and to build our capacity?

ME budget

One great tool in the CfDE toolbox which can help in this process is the ME budget. The ME budget is a spreadsheet that looks at the amount of energy (ME) needed to produce said amount of kgMS for the season. It will convert the figure back to dry matter, and then it will calculate if the farm supplies enough pasture and feed to produce the kgMS, for example:

ME Budget for dairy herd

The spreadsheet will also check to see if the diet offered to your cows is balanced, for example:

Dry matter and ME requirements

Dry matter and ME requirements for dairy herd

It will also calculate important utilisation figures, for example:

Dairy herd utilisation figures

Then, using the farm working expenses and the $/kgMS for the season, it will calculate the net profit, for example:


Dairy cow financials


One of the grand things about this budget is that you can run different scenarios and see what falls out of the bottom, such as:

  • Running less cows.
  • Importing less versus more feed.
  • Regrassing more and growing more pasture.
  • Using different $/kgMS.



Instead of running 850 cows as above, you can run 825 cows aiming for the same production of 482kgMS/cow/day and using the same milk price of $7.50/kgMS, for example:

Dairy cow financial scenario chart


You will see that, if you compare the two financial tables above, your total FWE have dropped from $4.37/kgMS to $4.21/kgMS and your net income EBITD has increased from $3.13/kgMS to $3.29/kgMS.

In this scenario, it is profitable to drop cow numbers.

For more information or if you would like to crunch some figures, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Centre for Dairy Excellence on 027 693 7664.

 Disclaimer: The responses shown are the best estimate on paper of what should happen with the figures given by the farmer at the time of the consultation. Centre for Dairy Excellence Limited cannot be made liable or take any responsibility due to so many variables outside of its control.