Take Control of Your Feed Costs
“Get better before you get bigger”
We are all aware of the constant downward pressure on profit margin in the dairy sector and the increased need to become more efficient on farm. This can sound quite daunting, but don’t panic! Before we begin, it’s important to understand that you may not have to change what you are doing; but you may have to change the way you are doing it. As the late Professor David Beever said, “get better before you get bigger”.
The importance of feed efficiency…
With feed costs accounting for more than half of the milk price, this is one of the single biggest influences on margin.
Results collected from our InTouch technology systems in Scotland show that it’s not always about making the diet cheaper or getting the cows to eat more. In fact, those with the highest milk yield didn’t have the highest dry matter intake (DMI); the most expensive cost per tonne of dry matter of feed but more importantly, the lowest feed cost per litre and the best margin over feed. The single, most import measurement allowing this to happen is feed efficiency – or simply put, the amount of milk produced per kilogram of DMI. Although, while easy to define, it takes a lot more to achieve.
Consistency is key here. The concept of feeding total mixed rations (TMR’s), to the dairy herd is now well established. However, the actual practical delivery of consistent TMR’s to all milking and dry groups within the heard every day, is much more problematic; this could be for a number of reasons:
Why am I not delivering a consistent TMR?
- The design of the mixer wagon on farm may not be flexible enough to integrate the full range of desired ingredients for all batch sizes.
- The mixer wagon may not have been serviced regularly on farm and gives a poor mix due to missing or broken parts, or the weighing calibration is off.
- Lack of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), for milking and dry cow TMR’s leading to operator errors in loading sequence and mixing times.
- No regular measurement of forage dry matters on the farm to allow for fresh weight loading adjustments to the TMR. This is essential to maintain ration specification on a dry matter basis.
- Physically effective fiber (hay/straw), added to the TMR for digestive herd health reasons, is either cut too fine in the mixer, not mixed in properly, fed out inconsistently, or not completely delivered out of the mixer.
As you can see, the ability to combine a wide range of ingredients with different physical and chemical characteristics into a rumen healthy TMR, can be extremely challenging.
This is where the KEENAN system and InTouch technology excels; you can manage your herd health, ration formulation, weight gains/yield and costs in order to take control of your costs and improve your profits. The technology helps create a consistent mix that is neither over-processed nor sortable every, single time.
For more information on our InTouch technology, please click here.
Author: Denis Dreux