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Tough but Worth It

November 26, 2013
 
 


Lambert VanderMade

Lambert VanderMade

Sherwood, Ohio

VanderMade Dairy LLC is a family-owned and operated dairy milking 1,400 cows in northern Ohio.

 


When doing a Google search for "What is risk management," it shows about a 10-sentence explanation, so I guess it’s complicated. This seems to be especially true on a dairy farm. We have so many changing factors that influence our bottom line that make it impossible to avoid all risk. We just simply try to manage it the best we can.

We believe that the most important risk management is done on the farm each and every day. Unlike weather or global markets, these are some parts of our business that we have control over ourselves. Some examples of on-farm risk management:

  • Having a great, motivated team of people who take care of our cows to the best of their ability
  • Striving for the best-quality forages to feed our cows
  • Keeping great cow comfort and overall herd health

Over the past 10 years, we have tried to bring some more structure to our business. We are now using an ag-specific accounting software to better track our income and expenses. We set a good budget each year and try to follow that throughout the year.

These improvements have really helped us better understand our business. Knowing figures such as cost of production are crucial to developing any type of risk-management program. We have done different types of forward-contracting, but we usually try to buy a cap on the feed side while setting some sort of floor on the milk.

Risk management remains a tough one for all of us dairy farmers, but being a part of today’s dairy industry is worth all the challenges.

VanderMade’s recent prices

Milk

$21.30 (3.8 bf, 3.1 prt)

Cull cows (dressed)

$1.50/lb.

Springing heifers

$1,750/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)

$260/ton

Cottonseed

$360/ton

Ground corn

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