Focus on housing young stock
The focus is now on the conversion of the old cow shed housing for young cattle. The manure pits are ready; the latter construction activity will be over sometime this February. Then the farmer wants to head for 400 dairy cows as soon as possible. “Under the current milk prices, the return-on-investment in additional cattle will be within six months,” says Asmussen.
Purchasing cattle creates a risk of introducing diseases, the farmer is well aware of that. “But Denmark is free of most diseases, and farms have clear health statuses.” Purchasing some 50 cows, however, was cancelled at the last minute after a supplier warned him that the selling company had a Salmonella outbreak in 2014. Blood samples were taken from all cows, some were positive. “Ultimately, the sale was cancelled. The farm’s health status was lowered and animals may only be shipped from this farm to an abattoir.” That experience, however, does not make Asmussen shy of purchasing cows. “I will probably buy cows from multiple herds.”
Top Jersey breeder
The Dane, one of the country’s top milkers, wants to refocus after breeding expansion. In 2012, he spearheaded the national lists of Jersey-producers. Due to construction troubles and divided attention, he fell a few places, but Asmussen wants to reclaim the top position. That also brings a lot of money. The sale of breeding stock is more about efficiency than milking the cows. “Not the production but the money counts,” says the skilled breeder.
And he does make a profit on his cattle. Only a few animals end up at the butcher, in 2016 only four. The rest are usually sold to other farmers as a second or third lactation cow at seven months pregnant. They bring in around €1,350 (DKR 10,000, Dec 2016) due to the high demand for livestock by improving milk prices. The regular price is approximately €1,075 euros (DKR 8,000). That is much higher than the slaughter value of only €350 (DKR 2600) for his heavy Jerseys. “The first lactation covers the rearing costs, the following lactations for me and the bank,” said the farmer. The ultimate sales by the farmer were done in 2014, the last year with a normal herd of 130 cows; the revenues topped €103,000 (DKR765.000) or around €800 per cow. This is about three times the average in the Netherlands.