Feed inventory planning for dairy herds

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If you plan to start a dairy farm or expand your herd, you need to determine how much feed will be needed. While many factors affect how much feed will be used on farm, a rough estimate can be made by knowing the feed types desired, number of animals, production level and storage types. A simple spreadsheet can help plan for and keep track of feed needs.

Start by estimating the feed needs of the herd, beginning with needs on a per animal per day basis and then calculate needs for the herd per year for each feed.

Actual consumptions should be used if possible. If feed intakes are unknown, a reasonable estimate can be obtained by using the chart below. Dry matter intake (DMI) can be multiplied by the proportion of concentrate and forage in the ration (DM basis) to give pounds of each needed on a DM basis. If the forage to concentrate ratio in the diets is unknown, use 50:50 for lactating cows and 85:15 for heifers and dry cows.

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Next, harvest, storage and feeding losses must be estimated because these losses can account for 15-50% of total feed needed. The tables below can be helpful when planning how many acres of each feed type are necessary.

Finally, the information can be compiled into a table to track the amount of feed needed for the year.

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