Drought conditions, limited stockpiles of commodities, and other factors have led to an increase in feed cost.

“One key for surviving these very trying times is to step back from the situation and think through ways you can make the best of the cards being dealt,” says Donna Amaral-Phillips, University of Kentucky dairy extension professor.

Assessing your forages is a good place to start. Here are some strategies to consider:

• Test all forages. This includes forages targeted toward dry cows and heifers.

• Sort forages by quality. Target higher-energy forages to early-lactation cows, high-producing cows and fresh cows.

• Do a forage inventory. Inventory available forages that have been separated by their quality and share these inventories with your nutritionist.

• Develop a plan for using available forages. Consider where they are best suited based on their quality. Also develop a plan to purchase forages, if needed. “Western and local alfalfa hay is already projected to be in short supply, and prices are increasing,” Amaral-Phillips says.

Click here to read, “Feeding decisions when forages are short.”