Well April is here! The weather has really improved in the past few days! We are enjoying more moderate temperatures and sunshine! Needless to say, we are working overtime on projects and getting a lot accomplished, but today was for planning ahead. Often times on a dairy farm, we need to plan ahead, schedule tasks, and make sure that we are using our time and resources to their fullest potential for our cows. Our dairy consultant/nutritionist Jeremy stopped in for his monthly visit and a planning meeting.
When Jeremy visits, he first walks through the groups of cows and makes observations. He evaluates how fat or thin our cows are, he watches them eat, he watches them pass manure (and checks that too), he checks our feed, and collects data about the milk we produce. All of this information helps him to make decisions about what to feed our cows and how much. Good nutrition is so important to our cows, so we depend on Jeremy's expertise everyday. Today's report was good: cows are chewing their cuds well, they are passing excellent manure and they are all in great condition (amount of weight they carry-we don't want them too fat or thin). After talking about the good news we got down to business.
With the recent increases in the corn price, our feed costs are out of control. The milk price is slowly keeping pace, but it will be hard to make a living milking cows in the next couple months. Knowing this we needed to develop a plan for our 2011 growing season. We will be planting our crops in the coming weeks, much of which will be harvested as alfalfa haylage or corn silage for our cows (forages). After going through all of our options to keep our costs low, while making sure we keep our cows healthy and productive, we decided that we will need to chop more corn silage for 2011. It is currently more economical to feed corn silage rather than dry corn to our cows, plus cows prefer forages anyways! We will still feed dry corn (cows need some dry corn too!), but at least we can cut the amount. We will need to continue to focus on making the best possible feed for our cows this summer, and pray for good growing conditions. We have a plan, to keep costs low while producing a great product (milk) from healthy cows. So as we start planting in the coming weeks, we will stick with the plan...stay tuned!