Midwest dairy farms are receiving no return for unpaid labor and management this spring as high feed prices and anemic milk prices continue to squeeze everything but blood from budgets.
In April, dairies were losing anywhere from 50¢/cwt. to more than $2/cwt., even when unpaid labor and management are not included, according to a budge analysis done by Robert Tigner, a University of Nebraska Extension educator.
When unpaid labor and management are included, the losses mount to almost $5/cwt., depending on production level and housing method.
Still, that’s better than February budgets. “The cost of production for the 20,000 pound freestall dairy declined by $1.12/ cwt. since February,” says Tigner. “The decline is due to a small drop in corn prices and a decline in alfalfa hay prices as well as a small increase in cull cow prices.”
Tigner’s budgets are based on $16.75/cwt. milk, $6.43/bu. corn, $396/ton soybean meal and $200/ton hay. Cull cows are budgeted at $75/cwt.