Ration Audit Strategies to Reduce Costs
1. Does the additive affect health/ reproduction?
2. Does the additive or nutrient affect milk volume or component concentrations?
Strategies in Combination to Reduce Production Yet Maintain Protein Yield
1. Increase Culling
- Yes, protein yield → Leave in the ration.
– Protein remains valuable in most federal orders and for most processors (excluding some parts of the Mid-Atlantic
– Cost effective options: Animal proteins including feather meal and RP Met
- Yes, butterfat yield → Remove from the ration.
– Additive can be re-added when fat values return and response is rapid (i.e. MHA, Palm Fat)
2. Dry off early/alter milking frequency
- If the market exists for the animals, cull to immediately lower production.
- Focus on cows with high SCC and those requiring 3+ breeding services to achieve pregnancy.
3. Evaluate the ration
- Dry off cows that are 200+ days carried calf (DCC) to immediately reduce the herd’s milk volume.
- Another alternative is to switch from 3X to 2X milking.
– It is vital to start with fresh cows <21 DIM and late lactation cows >150 DIM to avoid unnecessary discomfort and
health complications during peak production.
– Utilizing this strategy will cause the longest delay in returning to normal production levels.
4. Feed milk to cows and calves
- Increasing forage uNDF30 and decreasing starch will naturally reduce milk yield.
– This strategy involves increased forage feeding which may require additional inventory/ purchase.
– As an example, increase forage uNDF30 to 6 lb/ head or greater, decrease starch to 20% of ration DM.
- Non-forage fiber sources can be used, however, in post peak cows it will be necessary to reduce non forage fiber to reduce
5. Use milk as fertilizer
- Over base milk can effectively be fed to cows, heifers, and calves.
- For calf feeding, pasteurization is required.
- For heifers and cows, please review the following guidelines: Feeding Unpasteurized Milk to the Dairy Herd
The recommendations provided herein are based on current best practices. Individuals should determine the suitability of the information for their own particular operation and assume all responsibility associated with implementation.