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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Income over feed cost is a very important measurement because typically feed makes up over half the cost of producing milk

Dairy Pipeline: January 2003

Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
(540) 231-4758

It represents what is left to pay labor, interest, and other expenses plus profit. The October Virginia DHI average milking cow income over feed cost was $5.33 down from $6.15 in June 2002 and $7.50 in June 2001. Total feed cost in October was $3.08 per milking cow per day for 63 lbs. of milk produced. Declining milk prices have certainly resulted in reduced income. Also feed prices have increased. Another factor impacting income over feed cost is level of milk production. Below I have calculated rations at 50, 60, 70, and 80 lbs. of milk per cow per day. I priced alfalfa at $120/ton, corn silage at $30, whole cottonseed at $120, corn at $110, protein supplement at $220, and a 4:1 mineral at $300. More production will result in more feed consumed but the increased income more than offsets the extra feed and also the increased nutrient density needed at higher productions. In calculating income over feed cost I used a milk blend price of $13.14 (Oct. DHI average). Notice for each 10 lbs./cow /day increase in milk the income over feed cost increases a dollar or more.

Milk, lbs./cow/day 50 60 70 80
Feed, lbs./cow/day
Alfalfa hay 4 4 4 4
Corn silage 60 65 65 60
Whole cottonseeds 5 5 5 5
Corn 5.5 5.5 7 11
Protein supplement 4.5 5.5 7 8.5
Mineral .7 .8 .9 1.0
Value of milk, $/day 6.57 7.88 9.20 10.51
Feed cost, $/day 2.39 2.57 2.82 3.13
Income over feed cost, $/day 4.18 5.31 6.38 7.38

Another expression of income over feed cost on the DHI report is for all cows including those that are dry and not producing milk but are consuming feed. The DHI Virginia average was $4.10 for October 2002 compared to $4.88 in

June. These numbers are significantly less than those for milking cows only and points out the need to know how the income over feed cost is calculated before comparing. Most reports on ration printouts will be for milking cows only. If dry cows and perhaps replacements are included the numbers need to be adjusted for comparison. The bottom line is income over feed cost should be above $5 per cow day for milking cows and $4 when dry cows are included. If it is not ask why. Is it because of low production or high feed inputs or both?

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