Tips for managing through low milk prices

You may not control your milk price but you can control milk yield and margins on your dairy, says Michal Lunak, dairy specialist for University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. He has these suggestions for producers:
• Optimize forage harvest for lower feed costs and improved bottom line.
• Think about whether removing supplements is a good idea. It may save some money but also reduce milk production and cow performance.
• Carefully evaluate ration changes to avoid saving a nickel while losing a dime. For example, pulling the trace mineral package out of the ration can save you a few cents a cow. But one additional case of mastitis, a drop in conception or more foot disorders can cost you big dollars.
• Consider strategies that maintain high milk yields. High-producing cows convert 1 lb. of dry matter intake (DMI) to 2 or more pounds of milk. At $11 per cwt. milk, an extra 1 lb. of DMI translates to 22 cents more gross margin.
• Aim for a calving interval of less than 13 months to have more cows in early- and mid-lactation.
• Work on a successful transition cow program. That avoids metabolic disorders and helps cows reach higher peak milk production.
• Maintain consistent feeding and management programs to achieve higher milk persistency.
• Aggressively raise and breed heifers with a target of 23 to 24 months at first calving. One month over 24 months costs you $50 minimum in profit, according to research.
• Increase milk fat and protein test to raise your milk price.
• Work for lower somatic cell count to earn quality bonuses.
• Aim for a milk yield per pound of DMI greater than 1.3, for Holsteins.
• Estimate milk production potential to see where you stand: Subtract 13 pounds of dry matter (maintenance) from total DMI. Multiply remainder by 2. For example: 50 lbs. of dry matter minus 13 lbs. equals 37 times 2. That equals a minimum of 74 lbs. of milk production potential.

One Comment on “Tips for managing through low milk prices”

  • Pat Haldiman June 22nd, 2009 9:06 pm

    What a bunch of garbage. Any dairyman still in business today is doing all the above, and then some. Please don’t insult our intelligence like this.