Physical farm limitations


The infrastructure required to successfully operate AYR or Block calving systems varies considerably, the size and physical restrictions may mean some farms are more or less suited to a specific system


  • AYR calving spreads the demand on resources across the year, but generally these farms have higher fixed costs reflecting additional demands on machinery and equipment
  • Block calving will require additional capacity on farm to deal with the batch approach to farming. Farmers should consider what spare capacity they have for calving, rearing calves, cow housing, slurry storage, milking and milk storage, and what investment is required if capacity needs to be increased.

Use the AHDB milk forecasting tool to determine the impact on milk output and capacity requirements.


Skills and knowledge

Do farmers and their teams have the skills and knowledge to optimise the chosen system? Many of the skills required are common across both systems, but some are specific to the system operated


AHDB can offer support to farmers irrespective of which system they choose.




Cow type

Selecting cows that match the chosen production system is recognised as a key element of the success of any dairy farm. 

  • Select the right genetics for traits that reflect the needs of calving pattern, feeding system and milk quantity/quality desired.
  • Use the independent UK based genetic indices generated by AHDB;  £PLI and £SCI to select bulls and benchmark the herd.

Herd Genetic Reports (HGRs) are available through AHDB Dairy, to all British dairy farmers who milk record. HGRs allow farmers to benchmark and see the genetic potential of their herd for all key genetic traits.