What To Do When Milk Prices Are Low
When milk prices are low, it is crucial to analyse the price of feedstuffs in order to fine-tune the management of various aspects of the dairy farm. Feed is the largest operating cost on a dairy farm - on average 50% of the total cost of milk production. Hence, it is important to work with a company or broker who is able to deliver quality feedstuffs at a reasonable price on a consistent basis.
Find out the moisture level of the ration fed to cows:
DM % of the mix should be more than 50% DM and less than 70% DM.
During dry climates, 5 - 10% water may need to be added in order to maintain the desirable ration DM levels.
Less expensive feedstuffs may replace a more expensive ingredient if it make sense.
Evaluate your forages:
Ensure that silages and haylages are harvested at the correct DM levels and packed properly.
Test the following properties of your forages - DM, protein, acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF).
Allocate highest quality feed to fresh and high producing cows as milk production is very much influenced by quality of forages.
Use simple feeding program:
Have a maximum of 3 mixes for the cows: 1) fresh 2) high producing 3) low producing.
Having just 1 or 2 rations makes it easier to manage and modify according the cows' needs.
For fresh cows, it is recommended to use milk cow mix or milk cow ix with 5 pounds per head per day of alfalfa hay every morning.
If using 2 milk cow mixes, use the same dry grain premix for both of the raitons.
Design simple pen layout:
Have the cows go through a fresh pen so you are able to check them as they come up in milk.
Have a bull pen and a pregnant pen to keep track of which cows are bred or pregnant.
It is advised to separate first lactation animals as they perform better that way.
Keep cows together that are similar in a pen in order to minimise number of moves a cow must adjust especially during early lactation phase.
Maintain an economical and well balanced ration for the cows.
Make small changes one at a time if changes are needed.