Class III milk price futures now average just under $15 per cwt. While there’s nothing producers can do to change milk prices, farmers can work with their nutritionist to boost milk checks by increasing components in their milk.
“Dairy producers should track pounds of protein and butterfat that they produce per cow because that’s what [many] get paid on,” says Stephen Emanuele, senior dairy scientist and technical adviser for Quality Liquid Feeds. “Right now, the average Holstein herd is shipping about 5.8 lb. of components per cow. If the dairy can track that, they can try to work on shipping 6 lb. and 6.5 lb., which will increase the value of the milk and size of their milk check.”
According to Floyd Hoisington, a dairy specialist with Cargill Animal Nutrition, farmers have to be in the right pricing market for this strategy to work. Fortunately many U.S. markets base pricing on components. He says to make your cows the most efficient, you should balance rations to ensure the rumen is functioning at optimal levels.
“What are the feeds I’m feeding?” Hoisington says producers should ask themselves. “Farmers need to know and understand the characteristics and dynamics of the feeds they are feeding so they understand what the cows’ needs are.”
Hoisington explains the rumen as a big fermentation vat that needs to be run at peek function to maximize production and component levels.
“Not only do we need to feed the cow, but we need to feed the rumen microbes properly,” he says. “You’ve got to have the right balance to have good rumen function in order to meet your goals.”
Note: This story ran in the March 2018 magazine issue of Dairy Herd Management.