Lower milking cow feed costs

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dairy nutritionGeni Wren The top three costs of producing milk are feed cost/cwt, replacement cost/cwt and labor cost/cwt, says Greg Bethard, PhD, G&R Dairy Consulting, Inc. and Dairy Records Management Services, Raleigh, N.C.

At the Diamond V breakfast at the 2012 American Association of Bovine Practitioners’ conference in Montreal in September, Bethard spoke to bovine veterinarians about dairy economics, including ways to lower those milking cow feed costs. 

Bethard’s suggestions for lowering those costs include:

  • Minimize shrinkage and waste in storage
  • Avoid excessive weighback and wasted feed at bunk
  • Avoid overfeeding minerals, vitamins, protein, additives
  • Develop rations that maximize income over feed costs
  • Get cows pregnant (which equals low days in milk)
  • Cull aggressively (fewer sick cows, fewer hospital cows, more milk)
  • Avoid long dry periods (which increases percent of cows in milk)
  • Minimize maintenance costs

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newengland  |  October, 20, 2012 at 05:22 AM

interesting suggestions ...maybe US dairy breeders/producers should disregard goal to get higher milk production per cow as a way to measure efficiency and profitability and follow the above suggestions instead

Suzanne Buell    
CT  |  October, 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM

Any cow today should be able to make 20,000 lbs of milk without thinking too hard about it. Since we are getting paid for pounds of fat and protein, our thinking should be getting the most lbs of components out of however much milk we can make at least cost. Keeping production in check will help keep the price of milk up at farm level and making more lbs of protein and fat will make what we do make more valuable.

TN  |  October, 22, 2012 at 06:21 PM

The good doctor covers the goal of higher milk production in his 4th bullet point. Rations that maximize income over feed cost at a lower cost per cwt of milk are almost without exception those that get higher production per cow. Keeping components percent high is good, however you are also getting paid on pounds of milk. The higher the milk the higher total components if the ration is healthy and balanced. These are difficult times in the business. I appreciate the suggestions of Dr. Bethard. You should have a competent feed consultant, feed manufacturer, crop advisor and herd health vet to complement your daily decision making to achieve the goals set forth in the article.

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