(MAY BE) NO
PROBLEM Shrinking forage acreage and pro-
duction are pushing prices higher.
Three key steps can help maximize
use of all available supplies.
By Megan Pierce
As any dairy producer knows, feed
prices have hit record highs, and forage
prices are no exception. With 2011 yielding
some of the lowest acreage and production
totals in years (see related story) – and signs
indicating prospects for 2012 aren’t drasti-
cally better – forage shortages could create
issues for many producers.
But if forages are managed in the ration
correctly, producers should be able to face
some of those challenges head-on.
“Obviously if you don’t have any for-
age in inventory and you can’t afford the
purchase price, it’s a problem,” said Kevin
Leahy, nutritionist and technical services
manager with Calibrate® Technologies. “But
there are steps dairy producers can take to
maximize existing inventories of forage, as
well as improve efﬁ ciency of their rations.”
Dairy herd managers should look at three
key areas to maximize not only forages, but
every ingredient in the ration.
1) Balance ration for IOFC
Calculate income over feed cost (IOFC)
and then balance the ration accordingly. “If
you haven’t balanced your ration based on
IOFC – do it,” said Leahy. “You need to put
money towards the best return on investment
in your herd.”
Based on the calculation, you may decide
if it’s better to move feed inventory around in
the herd. Money should be invested to feed
early-lactation animals. A lesser investment
of lower-quality feed should be put towards
cows with lower milk production. This may
require some adjustments in pen groupings
if you haven’t done so already. Rations are
typically formulated for the highest-produc-
ing animals in the string. If the animals are
divided by production, it could potentially
result in a better return on investment.
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www.dairybusiness.com May 2012 WESTERNDAIRYBUSINESS