Fall is in full swing and one of the most talked about topics in dairy production is whether or not dairy farmers can make their autumn milk production. Again this year, the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec (FPLQ) instituted an incentive program to drive up milk production in a time when the market is deficient. As you read these lines, some dairy farmers are making the most of this possibility to increase their incomes. However, they are but a small minority
For the rest, there is no lack of excuses: inadequate fodder quality, not enough calving during the summer, or the milk’s fat content isn’t as high as usual. Whatever the reasons, we need to do something. I invite you to take a step back and gain some perspective, analyze the opportunities being presented and once and for all, do what needs to be done. Two day of additional quota per month represents a rather interesting bonus by year’s end. For an average business with 50 kg of quota, that translates into a possible 400 kg of additional milk fat produced without having to invest $26,000 to get it. That’s 10,000 litres of milk or about $8,000 in additional income!
Obviously, the best strategy is to synchronize quite a bit of calving during the summer to maximize fall milk production. Another option is to encourage as many heifers to calve as possible at this time of year. It may be too late now, but there are still some interesting options open to you in terms of feed rations.
I know, you’re probably thinking that prices for protein supplements and other feed products have become quite expensive recently and you would be right! Nevertheless, most feed strategies that provide for an increase in milk production of one or more litres are worth the extra expense.
First, make sure to oversee the calving transition period in the best way possible. Well prepared cows will be able to generate their full production potential. When in lactation, your best bet is to maximize the consumption dry matter from available feed. Well-preserved fodder combined with proper frequency and sequence of feed will definitely help. It may also be a good idea to challenge the cows early in lactation to drive production. Your expert-consultant can also discuss the benefits of using products from the Pulp-O-Lac line. Adding them to group 1 cows’ basic ration generally results in an increase in total consumption, all the while maintaining protein, energy, mineral and vitamin levels and increasing fibre intake. An increase of 0.7 kg of milk for cows in early lactation is enough to justify your investment in one kilo of consumed Pulp O-Lac, and you can generally expect even more!
Another short term strategy is to use lacto-replacements in replacement heifers. At the cost of 40¢ per litre of reconstituted milk, this option lets you sell more milk at the regular price: a 2 for 1 gain or about $1,500 net for an average herd of 50 cows over 4 months. Bottom line, it’s up to you to make your herd work for you.
This fall, don’t hesitate to call upon your team of La Coop expert-consultants, they’re job is to help you find the best economic strategy to manage and feed your herd.