Smart Swaps To Manage Feed Costs

With feed ingredient prices climbing Drew Johnson, an independent dairy consultant in Western Wisconsin, shares some of the smart swaps and moves he’s seen farmers make. From adjusting ration inclusions based on falling protein prices, updates on some of the possible byproducts out there, and plans for spring planting, he shares what he sees as the best options to better manage feed inputs.

Cotton seed and brewers grains are quickly falling out of favor in dairy diets. Pricing and availability have caused farms to drop those options in favor of other byproducts. But what options are out there? Wet beet pulp and cereal grains are being used in Minnesota and the Northeast, but are generally unavailable here. Distillers grains are available to us, but often come with their own challenges. 

Knowing your energy corrected milk is important. But how do you figure out how diet changes will affect your components and your bottom line? Drew shares that he uses a website that allows you to enter in ration changes and it computes pay prices. 

Some farms are changing up how they feed their younger animals. Switching from calf grain to TMR is one option. Other farms are combining grain and TMR or pulling high priced ingredients out of their grain mix. 

Heavy feed carryover on many farms leaves room for trying something new, if farmers will take the chance. Programs funding cover crops is one way to mitigate some risk trying some new forages on farms. 

As always, the best option for protecting your margins is to manage them. Drew says that both milk and feed contracting is increasingly more important for farms.