There are no magic bullets when it comes to profitable dairy herd management, but AgSource's Profit Opportunity Analyzer® (POA) provides AgSource members and dairy consultants with powerful ammunition to make profit-minded decisions. Even the most successful dairy operations have opportunities for improvement. The POA provides an objective assessment of eight management areas, including reproduction, udder health, production, transition cow management, dry period length, turnover and genetics. Key measurements from each area are compared to benchmarks set by all AgSource herds of similar size or production level. Actual performance is compared to what herds at the 80th percentile are achieving. Colored graphs illustrate the difference between the two, offering a clear picture of where improvement is possible.
Robert Fourdraine, AgSource Vice President of Product Services and Development, points out, "The true value of the POA lies in the fact that it also calculates how much income could be realized by making improvement in each of the key management areas. Each Profit Opportunity Analyzer is tailored. It uses the member's price inputs and herd data along with unbiased, research-backed formulas to calculate potential profits. In some cases it has identified $500 or more per cow of hidden income opportunities. Regardless of herd size, the POA can make a difference in surviving today's challenging dairy economy."
Recent improvements to the report include enhanced summaries, a new set of benchmarks for the top producing AgSource herds, a more in-depth analysis of production management using peak milk performance and milk persistency information and a new heifer reproductive management analysis using age at first calving distribution. All summaries show herd values and benchmarks combined in the same graphs.
Because the 15-page report clearly identifies where time and capital might be focused on the dairy for the greatest return potential, it is often the centerpiece for successful capital investment loan proposals. Many dairy herd management teams utilize an annual POA to measure the previous year's success and prioritize goals for the coming year.
AgSource member John Backhaus manages a 200-cow herd in Boyd, Wisconsin. He notes, "We use the POA to measure success on our farm. Every February we host a team meeting. Everyone sits down at the table with me, including my banker, nutritionist, breeder, vet, and key employees. We go through it (the POA) page by page and we compare from one year to the next. That's really how we set our goals for the new year."
While most dairy herd managers have a good notion where improvement is needed, the numbers sometimes paint a different picture. Backhaus adds, "A lot of times it is very interesting. The things you think you made big improvements on didn't really improve much, and things you thought were going well aren't going as well as you thought. I think it's very important to do at least once a year."
Visit www.agsource.com/POA to see a sample POA. Free training is available to veterinarians, consultants and nutritionists interested in providing Profit Opportunity Analyzers to their clients. To order a Profit Opportunity Analyzer or learn more about training, contact your DHI Field Technician or AgSource Representative or call (800) 236-0097.
AgSource Cooperative Services provides agricultural and environmental laboratory analysis and management information services to clients located throughout the United States and across the globe. AgSource is a member-owned cooperative and a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International. Find out more at www.AgSource.com.