Cut Costs, not Quality!

Everything is so expensive! For some time now that's all we've been hearing! And with the price of grains and protein sources that keep going up or just stay high, that's no surprise! However, there are some significant issues that go along with these high prices. Such as wanting to feed less concentrates to each cow in an effort to cut down feed costs is just one example.

This may be an efficient solution in the short-term, but is it just as good in the long term? In my opinion, it’s kind of like putting less gas in a car and expecting to go just as far, it’s just not going to happen! You can try to maximize dairy production with fodder, but a cows’ rumen not only requires fibre it also needs starch, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

Obviously, some will say that as feed suppliers we are biased and it is to our advantage to promote our products. I believe we are professionally conscientious and our work is to maximize farm revenues. This year production costs will certainly be higher than last year, but among the solutions available, we need to consider the one that will be best for you. Grain prices are high and so are protein sources and for some, choosing a complete food as a replacement for grains and supplements will be a judicious choice. The price of complete foods this past July was the same as it was in September of 2011. And the use of various sources of by-products is a plus for composite products

Never Give Up Milk
Those who subscribe to the American magazine "Hoard's Dairyman" have probably read articles along these same lines. Among others, Mike Hutjens from the University of Illinois, who was also a guest speaker at the latest Rendez-vous laitier of AQINAC, wrote an article on this topic titles "Never give up milk".

Whether it's due to the high price of inputs or because milk is sold low, it's best to focus on improving management aspects than to try and save money on food and diet. Even in a quota system, increased dairy production on a per cow basis tends to reduce the total cost of food for the herd as a whole. We just need to find the best solutions that will cover the increased cost of concentrates, which, on average, will be $5,000 to $10,000 higher per year for a 60-head herd Furthermore, it's difficult to do better when we don't know the real cost of feed and how much money is sometimes left on the table. With this in mind, La Coop network has a specific tool, a balanced scorecard, which is very useful to monitor and improve farm cost-effectiveness. Simply register with your expert-consultant and you will be able to make decisions based on facts instead of impressions.

It's important to always insist on elements that will have a significant impact on your farm's results. Having a good transition program to adequately prepare your cows for calving and to minimize metabolic disorders is certainly one of these key elements. Then, target the best lactation peaks, since that's where a good part of your annual production occurs. The image that comes to mind is that of a tractor pulling contest I watched this past summer: The ones that didn't get a good start didn't get too far. Essentially, you need good preparation, an experienced driver and don't skimp on gas!

Zero Tolerance
Because the price of concentrates is very high there should be zero tolerance for unproductive cows. There's no room for boarders! It costs you two dollars for each day that an over 24-month old cow is unproductive. Cows that exceed 450 days between calving are also very expensive to keep. Compare your barn to a factory: Employees who cost you money aren't necessarily those with the biggest pay check, but rather those who are unproductive!

Your La Coop expert-consultants are there to propose solutions that will always help you improve your situation.


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