Dairy farm managers should periodically review their feed procurement strategies.

Ask yourself: What feeds should be grown? Which feeds should be purchased? Which of these activities will provide the greatest return?

“Increasing land prices and rental rates combined with volatile feed and milk prices have made these critical questions,” says Dianne Shoemaker, extension field specialist with The Ohio State University.

Of crops grown on the farm, forages (alfalfa haylage, alfalfa hay and corn silage) continue to generate the greatest returns over both variable and total costs per acre compared to corn grain and soybeans. Alfalfa haylage generates the greatest returns over total costs per acre, according to farm management budgets from The Ohio State University. However, individual farm costs will vary widely.

Ohio corn silage yields on 18 farms ranged from 10 to 31 tons per acre and total cost of production ranged from $21.66 to $56.33 per ton in 2010. Farms should keep complete production and financial records and complete an annual enterprise analysis to fully understand and manage their costs of producing forages, Shoemaker says.

To download the crop budgets, type “What is the cost of homegrown forages?” into the “Search” box at dairyherd.com