By Felix Soriano, MS, PAS
We’ve probably gone through one of the worst dairy economic crisis in history. Fortunately, many dairy economic indicators suggest that 2010 will be a much better year for dairy producers with very promising milk prices.
Although it will take a while to recover from this crisis (some will taker longer than others) , producers need to be prepared to take advantage of good milk prices ahead.
Here is a list of management practices you need to consider that will help you maximize your productivity and profitability in 2010:
1-Focus on income over feed cost (IOFC) – Cutting feed cost has been the main focus of both nutritionists and producers this year. Now it’s time to focus on maximizing herd performance and feed efficiency. Don’t make any nutritional changes without calculating IOFC first. Monitor IOFC weekly or at least monthly. Work with your nutritionist to maximize IOFC.
2-Reduce feed losses – If you haven’t done so yet, make an assessment of your bunk management and feed losses. Is there room for improvement? Evaluate the way you handle and store commodities, by products, and concentrates, and ensure that losses are minimized in the commodity bays.
3-Monitor the mixing and feeding process – Do you have feeding protocols? If you don’t, work with your nutritionist to develop SOP’s to ensure feeding and loading consistency between feeders. SOP’s will also reduce variations between and within batches of feed. Monitor loading and feeding accuracy of your feeders to reduce feeding costs. Finally, ensure that feed refusals are kept low (not more than 2%).
4-Focus on your transition cow program – Don’t cut corners or feed cost on your close ups and fresh cows. Furthermore, spend more money in these two groups to maximize performance and health. Remember that what happens at this stage will affect peak milk and the entire lactation performance of the cows.
5-Maximize parlor performance – To get the most out of your cows you need to ensure that your milkers are performing a consistent milking routine. Review your milking routine if necessary to ensure optimum milk letdown and monitor milker’s performance all the time. Meet with your milker’s on a monthly basis to show them parlor performance numbers and SCC. Finally, conducting training and refresher meetings with your employees is crucial to keep them motivated and performing to your expectations.
So remember, you can’t afford to miss the boat. Be ready to make as much milk as possible next year but, maintaining cost and efficiency always in check.