Feed costs down over last three years

Published 6 March 18

GB dairy farms have become more efficient over the last three years, with around 40% achieving total feed costs* of less than 8ppl in 2016/17.

Total feed cost is one of the six key performance indicators (KPI) used for all-year-round (AYR) calving herds as part of AHDB’s optimal dairy systems programme. For each KPI, benchmarks are set for good, average and poor performance.

The recent improved performance in feed costs has been driven by a combination of price and utilisation:

  • Feed prices were lower in 2016/17 compared to three years previously.
  • Concentrate usage fell compared to 2013/14, following reductions in milk prices over this time.

Farmers are advised to assess their own performance on the KPIs using the AHDB tool here.

Total feed cost KPI Mar18 

Clearly during times of higher market prices for feed we may well see a decline in the number of farms hitting the “good” category for this KPI, and may need to adjust its level according to market conditions.

The current concern is the 24% of farms in the poor performance category for 2016/17, spending more than 10ppl on feed costs. For those running high input, high output systems which are achieving an output price that covers costs in the long term, this may not be a problem. However, those AYR herds feeding costly inputs where the long-term milk price is not covering their cost of production should be re-evaluating their feeding strategy. This should include considering whether they are running the best calving system for their individual farm and milk contract.


*The total feed cost KPI includes purchased concentrates, youngstock feed, purchased forage and bulk feed and temporary grazing costs. Costs from around 300 GB dairy herds have been monitored over a four year period.