How Managing Forages Can Impact Feed Costs
Feed costs account for over half of the total costs of milk production. Additionally, the utilization of high-quality forages will improve the dairy cow's productivity. The best way for producers to improve feed efficiency and lower costs would be to increase forage quality. The quality of the forage is impacted by harvest and storage, maturity, and the forage species chosen.
Harvest and Storage
Harvest and storage losses can be due to improper harvesting techniques and poor storage processes and will significantly impact farm profitability. Storing the forage with improper moisture content or improper ensiling of the forage will dramatically lower the forage's quality. The economic loss per ton of feedable DM can range between $9.30 and $9.80 from improper storage. Moisture ranges for ensiled forages are 40-60% for low moisture silage, 60-70% for wilted silage, and 70-85% for direct cut silage. Moisture levels that exceed recommendation can cause butyric acid formation or a foul odor that will reduce intake. Excessive handling or improper setting of equipment can cause leaf shatter and dry matter losses. These improper harvesting techniques can lead to an economic loss between $1.90 and $5.90 per ton of feedable DM.
By BRIANNA JUAREZ AND DEREK NOLAN
May 26, 2023