Dairy Cow Feeding - Increasing the Bottom Line Without Compromising Quality

Nov 03
Alltech's Global 500 - Mike Hutjens from the University of Illinois

Dr. Mike Hutjens from the University of Illinois spoke to dairy men and women about Feed Efficiency: Increasing the bottom line without compromising quality. Hutjens highlighted the benefits of the measurement and improvement in feed efficiency. This includes several measurable variables including: cost per cow per day, feed cost per cwt, and cost per pound of dry matter just to name a few.

The progressive farmer should aim to produce milk for less than 6 USD/cwt. In tougher economic times, the first inclination is to reduce the feed program. This can be detrimental to feed efficiency, as if you move from 80 lb to 70 lb feeding will become less efficient. Dr. Hutjens goal is to have cows between 1.4 - 1.6. However, that's not where it ends. Should you move 0.1 along the curve, you can make 0.56 USD/cow/day. Simply put, there's a lot of money to be made by measuring and improving feed effciency, with an ideal milk yield and feed efficiency being 75 lbs and 1.49, respectively.

In order to measure and track efficiency, Hutjens highlights three methods:

  1. Use a dairy software program
  2. On farm measurements
  3. Adjusted Feed Efficiency (AFE)

Nutrition does play a role in feed efficiency, so producers should consult with their nutritionist or feed company to see what ration and supplements can improve feed efficiency. For more information, you can visit Dr. Hutjens at University of Illinois' website ( http://aces.illinois.edu/ ).

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