How to Save

over $100/ton on Feed

Well that's it. It's been more than a week and the deadline has come and gone and I'm still looking at a blank page. Of course I have plenty of ideas and topics I could expound upon, but this time, it just seems harder. It's probably because I've been nursing a really bad toothache for about ten days. Despite a cocktail of colourful pills, the pressure on this damned tooth is stronger than the one pushing me to write this text. Let's just say that my concentration level is not at its highest!
Of all the challenges facing us this year, the price of inputs seems to be a recurring topic. In fact, we have been stuck with relatively high prices for the past two years. But this is not our first time facing such conditions When these conditions are present, we are particularly aware of the different deals on the table. It's always the same story: another supplier stops by with the 'same' proposal that would allow you to "magically" save $75 or even $100 per ton. Is this really possible? Are their products really worthy of comparison? I have my doubts. Unfortunately, we can't exclusively rely on the analysis provided.

I know a lot of farmers who can't wait for the price of dairy supplements to drop. Truth be told, we just don't have a lot of control over what happens on the markets. What is important is to select the most cost-effective and practical strategy that is right for you. In fact, there are many factors that will have a greater impact than a change in the price of supplements and some of these are more significant than others.

The quality and the price of fodder are two crucial elements under your control. There are hugely significant gaps between high performing farms and those with lesser yields. The following formula is simple yet effective: one cow consumes less than 1,000 kg of protein supplements per year compared with 5,000 kg of dry fodder. To achieve savings equal to $100 per ton of supplement simply improve dry fodder by $20 per ton. This data comes to us from Groupes-conseils agricoles du Québec. Yet the data shows a gap that ranges from $146 to $323 per ton of dry fodder, based on whether we are looking at the 20% highest group or the 20% lowest. Imagine: a gap of more than $170 per ton. The gap is almost the same with corn silage: $150. This represents more than $750 per cow per year! Enough to pay for all of the supplements your cows need.

Other important elements: maximizing milk components. Simply varying milk components will have an impact on two fronts. First, it's the difference between making your quota or not; and additional days in the fall to achieve some interesting premiums representing around $60 to $75 per cow. Second is profitability. When we know that a variation in milk fat content usually leads to a similar variation in protein content, the difference on your overall revenue is huge. Again, these elements will have a greater impact on your business' overall net revenue than saving $100 per ton on supplements.

It's completely normal to be concerned with the cost of inputs, particularly when you have to pay your monthly invoices. However, let's not forget that profitability is often hidden behind other yearly expenses on which you have much more control.

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