The rearing costs of young stock on dairy farms compared with the net return of the heifers and the management skills of the farmers in the Netherlands.
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An important part of a dairy farm is the rearing of young stock. This has to be done accurately, not only because the new dairy cows will replace the old ones, but also as a lot of money is involved. This has become clear in previous research, which has shown that the successful rearing of one heifer costs €1.540. This is 13% of the cost price of milk.9 To gain more understanding in young stock rearing costs, 40 farms from the Veterinary Centre Zuid-Oost Drenthe were visited. During this visit, calculations of young stock rearing costs were made with the spreadsheet Jonkos from , among others, WUR Livestock Research. In this study, the average of the young stock rearing costs on the visited farms was €1.967 per heifer, with costs ranging from €919 to €3.307. It was also shown that increased scaling is beneficial for costs. An increase in scaling factors researched led to a lower total young stock rearing cost per heifer. An increase in milk production (β=-0,337; P=0,028), the number of dairy cows (β=-0,360; P=0,037) or the number of young stock (β=-0,435; P=0.009) were all significant factors leading to reduction of costs. The age at first calving (AFC) was vice versa: a increase in AFC lead to a significant rise in the rearing costs per heifer (β=0,551; P=0,001). Comparing the net returns from the heifers with the AFC (P=0,109) also showed a remarkable result, namely that there was no significant link between the two. This is surprising, as a lot of farmers claim to experience otherwise. The net returns of the heifers compared with the score of the veterinarian was shown to be almost significant (P=0,054), suggesting that a higher level of management skills may lead to an increase in the net returns.