Lower soybean meal and alfalfa prices, and slightly better milk prices, show dairy profitability improved 40 to 50¢/cwt for Midwest dairy herds, according to dairy budgets produced by Robert Tigner, an Extension dairy educator with the University of Nebraska.
Milk prices were up slightly, to $17.69, along with better feed prices. But cull cow prices dipped to $70/cwt, off $10 from September and down some $30/cwt from summer highs.
“The outcome of these price changes was that returns to management rose for the budgets, $0.44 per cwt for the 20, lb./cow pound freestall budget for instance,” says Tigner. The 24,000 lb./cow freestall budget performed the best, showing a $2.21/cwt return to management.
“The tie stall budget shows a $0.80/cwt loss to management for the 20,000 pound budget, but the 24,000 pound tie stall budget did have a $1.02 net return to management.” These tie stall herds are burdened with much higher labor costs—$3.50 to $4/cwt., well over $1/cwt higher than freestall herds.