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Saving pennies to make dollars

Laura Kieser

Published in Dairy Star July 11, 2009

When times are tough in the dairy industry, we try to find ways to become even more efficient than we already are. We have to do more analyzing and monitoring of all aspects of the dairy operation. We still have to do the same amount of chores but have less time for them if we are devoting more time with business management. We have the same bills to pay with a smaller milk check. So, what can be done to make more dollars from the dairy at this time? One solution might be to look for those small items that can save pennies per animal, which can add up to saving you money in the long run. Here are a few places to start:

Reproduction

Milk Yield

Milk Quality

Table 1. Calculation of production losses due to subclinical mastitis (Ruegg, WI).
Lact Group # Cows Linear Score Goal Est Milk Loss/unit LS Milk lost per group (lbs) Monthly production losses due to subclinical mastitis
1 50 4.0 -2.0 X 200 lbs 20,000
2+ 50 5.5 -2.5 X 400 lbs 50,000
Milk price per lb: $0.10 X Total lbs lost: 70,000 ÷ 12 = $583

If you want to calculate this information for your herd visit http://www.uwex.edu/milkquality/Economics/index.htm.

Retention value

If the retention value is determined to be greater than zero, then you should keep this cow. If the value is less than zero, then this cow should be replaced.

Graph 1. Relationship of retention value and cost per day open (click to enlarge)Graph

What do you note in Graph 1? First, the costs per day open are going up (the retention value is decreasing) as the time after calving gets longer. Second, the costs per additional day open are higher for lower producing cows (Groenendaal and Galligan, U of Penn, 2005).

What influences the retention value of a cow?

Reproduction, milk yield, milk quality and retention cost are just a few items that can be consistently analyzed and monitored to save pennies per animal, which can add up to more dollars to improve your bottom line during these difficult times.

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