Don''t forget to test

March 4, 2009 06:00 PM
 
            With the hard economic times, it is recommended to control expenses. That is often difficult to do as many expenses are essential. Often expenses that are easy to identify and may not be considered essential are dropped. Frequently these are tests that are essential for management.
            The two tests that are often dropped are production testing (DHIA) and forage
and feed testing. What are the consequences?
            Production testing is an important management tool. Everyone can usually identify their top 10 cows and bottom 10 cows. What about the middle 20% of your cows? Have these gone up or down over the last 6 months? When you changed forages what was the milk production response? Was there a response? Why are your bottom cows in that group? Did they have an injury, mastitis, calving difficulties or just low production?
            Production testing and the historical records are vital to your management decisions.
            Another test that is often dropped in difficult economic times is forage testing.Many will say, "I will use the book value. We have been close the last couple of years.”
            If your wheat silage has been running 12% CP and you balance your ration using thatvalue, what is the cost of your wheat silage is 15% CP or 8% CP? At 15% you are overfeeding protein with no production response. At 8% CP, you are under feeding protein and will loose milk production.
            At a 50:50 roughage to concentrate ration, our ration would be 83 pounds of wheat silage at 30% DM providing 3.0 pounds CP and 27 pounds of grain mix with 20% CP providing 5 pounds CP for a total CP intake of 8.0 pounds. If our silage is actually 15% CP, then CP intake would be 8.75 pounds. We could feed 3.75 pounds less grain mix and have the same protein intake.
            If our grain mix cost $.14/pound, we have spent $.525 per day more in feed cost than we needed. For a 100 cow herd that is $52.50 per day that did not need to be spent. The forage test paid for itself in one day.
            In trying to save money and cut cost, do not short change yourself with the lack of
information to make good decisions. Pay for the test that will make you money.

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