Dollars and Sense: Our Good Feed-Partner Fortune

May 6, 2015 02:47 AM
Dollars and Sense: Our Good Feed-Partner Fortune


Shelly Dickinson
Loveland, Colo.

Mountain View Farm is a fourth-generation dairy farm, milking 2,500 cows with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains.

Mountain View Farm does not grow any of its own feed. We haul in 100%, with the closest feed coming from about 20 minutes away. It is a dream of mine to one day have some farm ground surrounding a dairy where we can spread manure and grow some crops.

We have worked with the same family for about 15 years growing our corn silage. They find all the acres to get us the tonnage we need, whether from their own farms or from other farmers in the area. This is no small task considering we feed about 35,000 tons a year.

They also do all the harvesting and packing and haul in daily what we need to keep everything fresh. They always give us a good product. We work well together deciding what seed to use, what particle length, how we want our kernels processed and, of course, dry matter. 

We sample all pits several times during harvest and also run monthly samples from new deliveries. Our feeders run dry matter tests weekly or if they notice a difference in weight.

We purchase all our alfalfa from a couple of growers. We used to insist on feeding 180-200 RFV but have found out, after going through a flood and having horribly damaged alfalfa, that we can feed almost anything and still have our cows milk well on it.

dickenson_priceAs a result, our thinking has adjusted. We will feed anything from 160-175 RFV, especially if it is green. Many of these growers are also able to supply us with straw and cornstalks, which we feed quite a bit of.

We feed several different rations at Mountain View Farm: fresh/sick ration that is balanced for the first 40-50 days of lactation, a high ration, low ration and a super-low ration. Our dry cows are fed a far-off ration and a close-up ration. Heifers are fed a weaned ration, a breeding ration and a pregnant-heifer ration before going on a close-up ration.

We feed once a day and make sure to have the ration always available to the cows 24 hours a day. We shoot for a 3%-5% weigh-back. We feed all the weigh-back to our heifers so there is no waste at all. We push up feed every 6 hours.

We are very lucky to have our nutritionist live about 5 minutes away. He comes by a couple times a week, walks pens, does the shaker box and pulls samples. He is able to adjust the ration based on what he sees and is able to come over if a problem arises.

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