Ben Flueger

Ben Flueger

With the recent downturn in the dairy economy, we have been busy reviewing diets and confirming the value of additives and the level of nutrients in your rations.  At the end of the day, we find that there is typically little that can be adjusted without potential to lose income.  Whether milk prices are high or low, one thing remains the same:  the value of milk components is what drives the milk check.  One dairy producer I work with recently made the comparison of his current milk pounds per cow with very respectable component percent versus higher milk pounds and lower component percent.  In either scenario, pounds of milk fat and milk protein produced were similar.  He also found that both paid the same with his processor.

Related to this, I have found it valuable to track production and components in spreadsheet form for farms I work with.  This lays out a quick glance to see what your herd is producing; current pounds of milk, energy corrected milk, pounds of fat, and pounds of protein, among other things.  Another benefit is that the history is all recorded so we can easily compare current to past performance.  This helps us to make better decisions regarding changes and gives us a data to measure the effect of changes.

Another valuable tool is the Addiseo Milk Pay App and website:  This tool allows the comparison of different production and cost changes (feed, management, etc.) and the potential income impact.  I often use this when evaluating different additives related to component production, most often amino acid balancing.  The current Federal Milk Marketing Order prices are available by default in the app, but I would caution to make sure this matches what you are currently being paid.  You can easily adjust the component values to match what you are being paid by your processor.

We need to be careful that we do not sacrifice pounds of fat and pounds of protein leaving the farm.  If we make a change that increases pounds of milk, be sure you don’t sacrifice butterfat pounds as a result.  As we progress into warmer weather and longer daylight we expect milk component percent to slip.  Are there risk factors you can address now to mitigate the extent of the slide? 

Common things to consider are:

· Adequate feed out rates of forage/grain storage structures to reduce spoiled feed

· Heat abatement adequacy – enough fans, clean fans, get sprinklers working etc.

· Dietary adjustments related to starch fermentability, DCAD levels, fatty acids, etc.

Whether milk prices are high or low, we don’t want to ignore the importance of shipping pounds of fat and protein.