Drought Forces Feed

May 6, 2012 08:40 PM


LarryHancockLarry Hancock

Muleshoe, Texas

A dairy pioneer on the Texas High Plains, Prairie View Dairy milks 4,200 Holsteins.




You know it is dry when the dairy families are praying for rain! Due to the drought in our area, high-quality affordable forages are difficult to find, and we have had to make some major changes in the last two years. It has been necessary to feed ingredients we never expected to feed, and to pay a lot more than we ever expected to pay.

One of the more recent changes we have made is adding corn stocks and grass hay to our young stock. We are spending more time trying to make sure they are growing and will reach their potential size at the right time on these new rations. The farmers that we have used for years are telling us that they aren’t planting corn silage this year. Instead, they are planting sorghum, so we will have to learn to use a sorghum silage.

Another change we are making this year is in the way our corn silage is packed. We have always used an inoculant after cutting and then taken our time to make sure it was well packed. This year, we will add an oxygen barrier before it is covered to help preserve even more of the finished product.

Our nutritionist, Dan Loper, has been an integral part of the feeding program here at Prairie View Dairy. He spends time at the dairy on a regular basis, checking and rechecking the feed rations we use to meet the needs of our animals. We use a balanced ration for all classes of animals here, from the bottle-fed calves to the dry cows. The ration is programmed into EZfeed to ensure that each animal receives the amount of feed designated by our nutritionist.

We also use a bonus system to encourage accuracy in loading and unloading of the rations. The feedbunks are monitored very closely. They are checked several times a day to make sure there is enough feed for each pen, while keeping the rejected feed to a minimum.

Dairying is always a challenge. There are clouds in the sky and rain in the forecast, but I am feeling optimistic.



Hancock's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.48% bf, 3.01% prt) $14.93/cwt.
Cull cows $85/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Alfalfa hay (new crop) $295/ton contracted
Whole cottonseed $345/ton
Cottonseed meal $326/ton
Corn $257.70/ton (FOB)


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