Surely most people will be desperately examining their businesses in an attempt to increase their efficiency in these most difficult times. But this is not always straightforward, especially when trying to respond to the altered terms of a milk contract.

What we do know is that the British Friesian has been bred from a background of lower milk prices, adjusted for constituents and seasonality payments.

Margin per litre will increasingly feature, and the ability of our cow to walk and graze and utilise forage will help deliver this. Data produced at University level, tracking feed efficiency, showed a decline since the introduction of the larger cow into the UK, perhaps sustained in the early years by high milk prices ex Milk Marque.

Although we now have the PLI Index on a Friesian average, it does not truly reflect all of the financial advantages of the breed. The latest genetic comparison in April 2020 showed a fertility advantage of 13.7 points over the Holstein and 58 days of lifespan. These figures reflect savings that can be made in terms of semen use and lower replacement rate. The recent emphasis on calving at two years isn’t a new idea, having been long practiced in Friesland and promoted in the UK by ICI’s Henley Manor in the 60’s! Although obviously with a vested interest, that experimental farm did so much to promote milk from grass and quality silage.

The suitability of the male pure bred calf for beef production is another great asset, again from grass based systems with steers. If not retained on farm there are plenty of buyers willing to pay good prices for these calves with their superior conformation and barley beef systems are also an option. British Friesian cull cows regularly make top price per kilo.

We all have to get our cost of production down and cross-breeding is suggested. This needs careful consideration. Coloured breeds are being promoted, but is there enough breed information and how will future breeding decisions be made?

Holstein and British Friesian breeders have the huge advantage of the HUK dataset to enable informed choices to be made, especially when trying to correct or avoid type faults.

This information is available to all, whether pedigree breeders or not, so if you are thinking of crossing, KEEP IT BLACK AND WHITE!