“High dry matter intake solves a lot of problems on a lot of farms,” explained Mike Hutjens when referring to the best ways to capitalize on feeding opportunities in the new year.

Specifically managing the ration to accomplish that goal means better production, health, and a number of other benefits.

“The last pound of dry matter I get into that cow should give me 2 to 2.5 pounds of milk since I have already paid all my dues with the cow, maintenance requirement, growth, all those things,” he said. “If milk is 18 cents a pound, that would give me a 26-cent profit margin because that cow ate that last pound of dry matter.”

Why isn’t the cow eating that last pound?

Hutjens says it’s because of one of three factors.

  1. The cow is full. This is managed by undigestible neutral detergent fiber in the ration.

  2. Something tells the cow to stop eating metabolically. Too much starch, a low pH, or too much fat could all explain the cow stopping consumption.

  3. Non-nutritive factors. As Hutjens says, “The bunk is empty.” Other factors that fall under this category include heat stress, lameness, and such.

According to Hutjens, the No. 1 way to stay profitable or get profitable in the new year is to “never give up milk.” That begins with maintaining dry matter intake.

Along that same vein, his presentation at the recent Illinois Dairy Summit meeting emphasized the importance of maintaining a ration that capitalizes on good ingredients and smart additives. “If you would do something such as add a feed additive or regularly trim feet when you have $26 milk and found it economical, it should also be done when you have $16 milk,” he told the producers in attendance.

His other two points for profitability in 2017 were taking advantage of premiums available in your area and remembering that your farm is a business. Stay on top of finances by understanding feed costs per day and feed costs per pound of dry matter. The more you know the better it can be managed.

To comment, email your remarks to intel@hoards.com.

(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
March 6, 2017

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