14 Ways to Increase Profits on Today's Dairy Farm Without rBST
Written by: Thomas Schoenfeld - Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist
Today, in most businesses across the world, we have tighter profit margins, and that includes America’s dairy farm. This is due to increased demand for lower prices by the public and the ever-increasing exit of the dairy farmer out of the industry. Fewer and fewer folks are milking more cows, bigger feedlots and larger swine operations, and running more land to make more food than ever before for the world.
As most of us know, there have been many technologies used over the years that have increased pounds of milk or pounds of beef produced per animal in an efficient and healthy way. This has resulted in less feed needed, less manure produced, and less green-house gases produced than 50 years ago.
One of these technologies is rBST. rBST is a natural hormone made by the cow to make more milk, however, it can be given by injection to help increase profits through increased milk production. Using this technology, many producers have seen around a 10% increase in milk production. As you know, many milk plants have given notice that on January 1, 2018 they will no longer accept milk from cows given rBST. For some, this will make us research how to maintain profits without this technology. We as nutrition consultants, along with the producer, will need to evaluate, strategize and monitor the whole dairy operation on what can be done to maintain and improve milk production without the use of technology such as rBST.
Here are some suggested areas to evaluate:
- Cow comfort: An extra hour of laying can result in four more pounds of milk.
- Feed bunk and feed center management: One more pound of dry matter can equal two pounds of milk, and less feed shrink equals more profit. (See: Two Management Practices that Impact Dry Matter Intake in Dairy Cows)
- Lighting: 16 hours of high quality light can equal 4-5 lbs. of milk.
- Milking three times a day: Can lead to a 10% increase in milk production.
- Water quality and quantity: Water is the nutrient of life and can increase milk production.
- Correct dry period length: This can save upwards of $3.00 a day.
- Transition period: Less metabolic issues equals more milk.
- Record keeping: It’s impossible to manage it if we don’t have records. It has been shown record analysis can increase profit by 33%.
- Fresh cow milking: Milking fresh cows four times a day for first 21 days equals higher peak milk.
- Days in Milk: Keep this to under 170 days year round. Work on improving your reproduction program.
- Heifers: Correct age at calving to 24 months or earlier. Every month sooner equals roughly $300 more profit. (Read: The Cost to Calving Springing Heifers After 24 Months)
- Healthy cows: Lower SCC, take care of foot health, and correct body condition score.
- Amino acid balancing: This can increase components which equals more profits. (Read: Feed an Amino Acid Balanced Diet for Transition Cow Performance)
- Heat stress program: Increased hydration in the summer months maintains milk, intakes and profits in summer. (See: Have a Comprehensive Plan to Beat Heat Stress)
Form-A-Feed has the tools and knowledge to help you with maintaining profits on your dairy farm by supporting you with a team of experts that cover nutrition, analytics, and many management aspects on your farm. Contact us for help with any of the above 14 areas and more to help increase your farm profits!