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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Feed and Nutrition > Management practices and feed costs in Minnesota dairy farms

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Management practices and feed costs in Minnesota dairy farms

Marcia Endres

It was about time for another survey of randomly selected dairy farms in Minnesota. Random sampling is a more accurate technique we can use to describe practices most commonly adopted in our state as this type of sampling will better represent the true population of farms. We also wanted to learn about milk production, feed costs and feed costs per hundredweight as a measure of milk production economic efficiency.

My graduate student, Lee Kloeckner, visited 82 farms in 2015 to collect on-farm observations and also summarized a year of cow records from each farm. Herds ranging in size from 150 to 2100 cows were included in the study. In addition, we performed a comparison of various management practices between two herd sizes: 150 to 400 cows and greater than 400 cows. What are some key things we learned?

Preliminary analysis of management factors associated with milk production showed that production of energy-corrected milk per cow was influenced by milking frequency, use of bST, type of stall base/bedding, stocking density (cows/freestall), TMR particle size, and type of TMR mixer. Feed cost per hundredweight of energy-corrected milk was associated with corn silage hybrid type, hoof trimming schedule, stocking density, type of stall base/bedding, and brisket board height. There was a lot of variability among farms on feed cost per cwt (Figure 1). We will conduct additional analysis to better describe what top dairy farms are doing to improve cow productivity and feed cost efficiency. Stay tuned!

Figure 1. Feed cost per hundredweight of energy-corrected milk yield.

September 2016

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