• Jin Gan

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.

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