All of the milk produced on your dairy is sold, right? Wrong. Sick cows, fresh cows and cases of mastitis all decrease the amount of milk you actually market, which can have a significant bearing on your overall cost of production.

The difference between the milk produced and milk marketed is quite small on the best farms, as low as 2 to 5 percentage points.

To find out where you are, compare the amount of milk you produced according to Dairy Herd Improvement records or your herd management software. Then, subtract pounds produced as recorded on your milk check.

“Some herds ship 95 percent of the milk they produce, while I have discovered others that only ship 85 percent of their milk,” says Rob Bell, of Pfizer Animal Health. Since a cost is associated with milk production and revenue is based upon the milk you ship, there is a 10 percent cost of production advantage for the herd that ships the majority of its milk produced.

This is added incentive to make sure your herd health programs, fresh-cow protocols, facilities and cow comfort are up to snuff, since all play starring roles in milk production.