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There are ways to reduce your feed costs!

Dairy Pipeline: March 1996

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist
Virginia Tech

Feed costs have increased to levels not seen since the early 1980s. Both corn and soybean meal costs are elevated, and prices of $4.50/bu for corn and $250/ton for soybean meal are common. Everyone I talk to is trying to figure a way to reduce the cost of feeding. First of all, it would be foolish to reduce feeding at the expense of milk production. One pound reduction of feed resulting in two pounds decrease in milk would mean a savings of $.10 in feed but a reduction of $.27 in milk sales. Obviously this would not be cost effective. The following are some thoughts on how to economize. 1. Check your ration for nutrient balance -- Are you feeding the proper amounts of energy, protein, and other nutrients for the level of production? 2. Consider grouping --This may be the time to group cows by production and feed the lower producers a cheaper ration. 3. Use an economical nitrogen source to supply part of the protein requirement -- Urea can be used in lactating cow rations usually at the rate of .1 to .3 lbs. per cow per day, and poultry litter can be fed to replacement heifers as a cheap source of nitrogen. 4. Check alternative feeds -- There still may be a few good deals out there and whole cottonseeds are still cost competitive even at $180/ton. 5. Cull unproductive cows -- I know cull cow prices are depressed, but this may be the time to get rid of some unproductive cows. The bottom line is to know the economic impact of your decisions. Extension can help if you have a need.

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