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Ten marginal milk quick tips

John Lee Published on 19 November 2009

All dairies may lose money in periods of extremely low milk prices. From my observations even the best-run dairies are experiencing losses.

During rough economic times, producers may feel compelled to reevaluate protocols and procedures to see if there are ways to cut costs. Here are ten tips that producers can look at when reevaluating their dairy during a downturn:

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  1. Don’t do anything that will reduce milk production per cow.
  2. Cull unprofitable cows.
  3. Take advantage of milk quality premiums by lowering SCC. This also should increase production per cow.
  4. Don’t skimp on reproduction for short-term cost-cutting gains versus long-term losses. Getting cows pregnant is still the number one priority.
  5. Transition cow management becomes more critical to production, reproduction and culling success.
  6. Delay long-term capital improvements.
  7. Try to determine a breakeven cost per hundredweight, and turn that into a breakeven milk production value.
  8. Feeding precision is crucial. Are the people involved in our feeding operation building the daily rations meticulously? Are they weighing out every ingredient?
  9. Decrease shrinkage in the feeding program. Dairies frequently waste feed by the ton, while feedlots usually only waste feed by the pound. Are we being diligent about feeding cows only what they need? What feed is left?
  10. Stay positive. Producers shouldn’t dairy dramatically differently in good times or bad times. There will be an upswing in prices and you need to be ready for it. PD

References omitted but are available upon request at

—Excerpts from Pfizer Animal Health news release

John Lee
Veterinarian
Pfizer Animal Health

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