“You can’t save your way into making money, you have to make milk,” said Gordie Jones on the August 5 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream. This advice normally applies to all dairymen, everywhere. Yet, when the COVID-19 pandemic began its detrimental path through the milk market, many dairy producers were asked to cut their milk production.
“COVID-19 has given us winners and losers, depending on where, and by who, your milk was marketed and processed,” explained Jones, the owner of Central Sands Dairy.
Many dairyman turned to Jones for advice on how to cut their milk production without harming their herd. “Everyone who called me was sitting in one of two boats – either they preferred to dump the milk and hope for a government payment or they dropped their production from the bottom of the herd,” he said.
Jones’ advice to those in the second boat was simple, change the overall ration to have lower energy or simply feed the low cows the dry cow diet. He favored the latter option. A high-fiber, low-energy diet, like that of the dry cow diet on most farms, would keep the cows in the best health and cut their milk production significantly without harming the health of the overall herd or requiring a new ration formula.
“I had a few good dairyman who decided to cut the top off of their milk production. They went from balancing rations for 110 pounds of milk to 100 pounds. Today, they’re mad as heck because processors want more milk and they can’t get the production back up,” Jones exclaimed. By balancing the whole herd to produce less milk, these farmers put a lag on their rebound. “Now, they have to wait for 90 days of new fresh cows to make milk and you’ve hurt all the cows across the curve, rather than just the bottom percentile.”
The bottom line – if your co-op or processor is requiring a milk production cut back, the best way to do it is with a high-fiber, low-energy diet that will keep your cows healthy.
An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast will be on Wednesday, August 19 at 11 a.m. CST. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.