Oct. 11 2011 08:19 AM

"Precision feeding" was the focus of the tenth Hoard's Dairyman webinar.

Mike Hutjens photo Although feed input costs have been declining recently, dairy producers need to effectively and efficiently manage their feeding programs. These actions maintain milk production and keeps costs in check.

Hutjens stressed the importance of knowing these key statistics on your operation:
• feed cost per day
• feed cost per hundredweight (cwt) of milk produced
• feed costs per pound of dry matter (DM)
• income over feed cost
• feed efficiency (pounds of milk per pounds of DM).

What are some areas of potential improvement?
Feed variation is one. This includes allowing for differences in harvesting and chopping. Also, nutrient variation encompasses forage differences (fields or sections) and inconsistent nutrients in feed ingredients. He encourages producers to include only 2 to 5 pounds of DM of feedstuffs with inconsistent ingredients, lessening their ration impact. Also, routinely checking with forage testing labs for averages in your area is a good idea.

With bunker silos, Hutjens strongly suggests taking silage from top to bottom of the face, mix it, and then add it to the mixer wagon. "Dry matter at the top of the pile is different than the silage dry matter at the bottom," notes Hutjens.

"Next to the owner and herdsperson, the feeder is the most important individual on the dairy," says Hutjens. The manner in which the ration is prepared is vital to optimizing production. When preparing the ration, make sure you are not overfilling the mixer, add ingredients in the correct order, and allow adequate mixing time (but do not overmix). Also, address adding ingredients such as premixes that are fed at less than 2 pounds per cow for ideal distribution throughout the ration," suggests Hutjens.

Hutjens encourages producers not to sacrifice quality feed in times of high ingredient costs. But carefully and effectively manage the forages, the ration ingredients, the mixing process, and the cow herself for maximum production and profit.

To watch the webinar in its entirety to learn about the specific topics addressed, we encourage you to visit the archived link. The "Precision feeding" webinar was brought to you by Zinpro Performance Minerals.