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Purchased and home-raised feeds: Where are we losing the most profit for the dairy?

Dairies can benefit from double-cropping strategies that produce more home-raised feed, but crops must be well managed to provide high yield with managed input costs and high-quality forage.

Profitable dairy production requires a very efficient conversion of feed to milk. A combination of purchased and home-raised feeds are frequently used to provide the needs of the dairy operation.

Many Northeast dairy producers have increased the use of double-cropped forages on their corn silage acreage to produce small-grain silages to replace alfalfa haylage in their rations. Removing perennial forages from their rotation has allowed them to increase the acreage available to produce corn grain. In many states, farms can grow corn grain for far less than the market price of the commodity.

One of the first strategies to consider is: How well do the cow numbers fit the crop acreage? When cropland acres are a poor match to cow numbers, the cost of purchased corn and a shortfall of hay crop forages pushes up the cost of purchased feed for the farm. If land available to rent is in short supply, using a double-cropping strategy can significantly increase the tons of forage a farm can produce on the same acreage.

Cassie Yost and Tim Beck

December 4, 2023



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