Texas Agrilife Extension
It’s that time of year when many review their current situation and make resolutions to improve on something during the next year.
For dairies, this means looking at benchmarks and tackling areas that can use improvement. Some dairies are using cohort groups to find benchmarks while others use DHI data.
Recently, Minnesota researchers observed 15 very large dairy farms in four Upper Midwest states. Farms had to have more than 2500 cows (range 2606 to 13,266) to be evaluated. Mortality, culling, pregnancy rate and clinical mastitis incidence were determined from on-farm records. Cleanliness, hock lesions and lameness were determined by scoring select pens on the dairy.
Table 1 provides a summary of information gleaned from the dairies. The proportion of cows by breed was 80% Holstein, 13% Jerseys, and 7% Holstein – Jersey crosses. All the herds were using artificial insemination and some type of synchronization program.
From evaluating the financial records of the 9 dairies that provided information, feed costs were 53 % of the total cost of producing milk; while labor was 11%, interest and depreciation expense 10 %, and replacement costs 9.5 %. Average milk price per hundredweight in 2012 for these herds was $19.02 and other sales added $0.33 per cwt of income. Total cost of production was $17.88.
Take time to benchmark your herd performance against these large farms. Identify where you can make improvement. Then work with your consultants to develop a game plan for improving your herd’s performance.