Field-to-Ration Quality

May 15, 2009 07:00 PM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Kevin Phillips
Waynesboro, Va.
The quality of forages we grow can make or break our year. It all starts with soil samples showing enough nutrients to grow the crop. Quality also comes from varieties that are proven for your area and harvesting at the highest nutrient value level.

We have the Virginia Tech corn silage corn plots and sample over 100 different varieties every year. We take the top few varieties from the year before and plant more acres to see if they continue to perform before they are entered into our regular rotation. We spend a lot of money, time and effort to make sure we have the most digestible tonnage and standability to produce the most milk per acre. This is the first part of the total package to produce milk from a crop standpoint.

Forages are tested monthly and our nutritionist makes recommendations. We try to keep our ration simple. Our milking cow ration consists of corn silage, alfalfa haylage, yearlage, roasted soybeans, soybean meal, wet brewer's grain, a 20% liquid feed and a mineral pack. High herd is balanced at the 80-lb. level and low herd at 70 lb. Amounts of ingredients have changed, but the ration has basically been the same for the last five years.

As usual, if you treat the ladies right, they will take care of you.

Phillips' March Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt): $11.55cwt.
Cull cows: $44/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,350/head
Alfalfa hay: $200/ton (if you can find it)
Cottonseed: $220/ton
Ground corn:  $180/ton
Soybean meal (48%): $375/ton

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