Farmers are culling less productive cows in an attempt to cut costs as the milk price slump continues to bite.
And they have been urged to check for any unnecessary spending as the depressed farmgate price looks set to continue into next year.
DUP MLA William Irwin, who is also a dairy farmer, said he had sent cows to slaughter as he reviewed his cost base.
He was speaking at a meeting of the industry in County Antrim, organised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
Ian Marshall, the union’s president, said the event was intended to highlight the scale of the crisis.
The price farmers are being paid for their milk is currently about 18p a litre.
That is significantly below the cost of producing it, which is about 27p a litre on average.
That means a farmer producing a million litres of milk a year is losing between £80,000 and £90,000 a year.
Dairy farmers will receive an EU subsidy cheque in December.
But Cormac McKervey, the head of agriculture with Ulster Bank, said in many cases that will already have been set aside to pay for rented land or contractors who have done work on the farm.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill also attended the conference.
She is going to a meeting in Brussels in Belgium next month where European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan will be pressed to raise the price at which Europe buys in milk products to support the price.
Mr Hogan has so far resisted calls for it to be increased.
In recent days he has hinted that he may be prepared to review that position.