For many dairy farmers, extracting the most money from your milk check means being successful with components like fat and protein. Depending on the region and the product the milk is being made into, farmers may want to consider indices like Net Merit (NM$), Fluid Merit (FM$), or Cheese Merit (CM$).

Each of these indices includes a combination of favorable traits and converts it into a monetary value. While many traits remain rather constant, the production portion of NM$, FM$, and CM$ varies based on returns to one’s milk check. For many, NM$ is the place to start. During the July 7 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLiveStream, Chris Wolf, agricultural economist at Cornell University, shared,“A genetic index simplifies the process of selecting sires based on some combination of economically important traits.”

Routinely used by many dairy producers to select the bulls to sire the next generation, NM$ helps produce well-rounded cows. When explaining the index, CEO of Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding João Dürr said, “We want to select the most profitable cow that we can have in our commercial herds.”

NM$ includes a variety of traits focused on the health and production of the offspring. Dürr stated, “We want our heifers to be healthier and survive and be profitable later on.”

What’s the best index?

“If you are in the skim fat order, such as Florida or those in the Southeast, there’s an index called Fluid Merit,” informed Corey Geiger, managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman. When compared to NM$, FM$ leans more toward health traits and an enhanced overall milk yield.

Being the highest cheese-producing state, Geiger noted that those in Wisconsin may want to incorporate traits that aid in cheese production. “You’d probably want to use Cheese Merit (CM$),” stated Geiger. Opposed to NM$, CM$ doubles down on its emphasis for protein and production.

“It depends on your market,” shared Geiger. “You’re not getting paid for the fluid part,” he explained for those in major cheese production states.

“Milk yield and component increases in the United States have been a real success story,” mentioned Wolf. Producers should use those traits to their advantage in the milk tank.

To watch the recording of the July 7 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is also available as an audio-only podcast on Apple Podcast Spotify, Google Podcasts, and downloadable off of the Hoard’s Dairyman website.

An ongoing series of events

The next broadcast of DairyLivestream will be on Wednesday, July 21 at 11 a.m. CDT. 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 for free. Registering once registers you for all future events.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
July 12, 2021
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