Caught in the middle

04:49PM Jun 16, 2008
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Dr. Bill Stouder
Jerome, Idaho

There will be many questions as we feed our cows this year. What will the hay quality be this year? Will there be enough forage supply? And of course, what will it cost for hay?

The same principles for feeding our cows will, however, be used this year. We need to harvest forages when the quality and quantity are at their highest. This means for us that alfalfa must be harvested before it blooms. We prefer to feed alfalfa in the 175-185 RFV range. We also will need to store our forages so that they will be protected from the weather. Alfalfa will be covered with tarps, haylage will be bagged, and silage will be packed tightly and covered.

These feeds will all be tested for quality. Our nutritionist will then blend these forages into mixes that can be used by the cows in the most efficient manner. One of the parameters we watch is the pounds of milk per pound of dry matter fed. Then our feeder will mix this ration as closely as possible to the ration that the nutritionist has developed. Finally, we will keep the feed fed to the cows in front of them by pushing up the feed throughout the day.

One of the things that will be hard to do this year will be to control our feed costs. Our feed costs have risen by 35% to 40% in the last year. In this country's desire to use ethanol to help our energy needs, we have produced a supply-and-demand monetary effect on corn and wheat. That then is resulting in increased consumer food prices. The public has just recently started to see that in their prices. In my opinion, our government, in its desire to solve one problem (this country's energy), has caused another problem (food prices).  Dairying seems to be caught in the middle. Time will only tell how all this turns out.


Stouder's May prices
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt) $15.50/cwt.
Cull cows  $52/cwt
Springing heifers $2,000/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow quality) $185/ton
Whole cottonseed   $400/ton
Ground corn    $290/ton