The top three costs of producing milk are feed cost/cwt, replacement cost/cwt and labor cost/cwt, says Greg Bethard, PhD, G&R Dairy Consulting, Inc. and Dairy Records Management Services, Raleigh, N.C.

At the Diamond V breakfast at the 2012 American Association of Bovine Practitioners’ conference in Montreal in September, Bethard spoke to bovine veterinarians about dairy economics, including ways to lower those milking cow feed costs. 

Bethard’s suggestions for lowering those costs include:

  • Minimize shrinkage and waste in storage
  • Avoid excessive weighback and wasted feed at bunk
  • Avoid overfeeding minerals, vitamins, protein, additives
  • Develop rations that maximize income over feed costs
  • Get cows pregnant (which equals low days in milk)
  • Cull aggressively (fewer sick cows, fewer hospital cows, more milk)
  • Avoid long dry periods (which increases percent of cows in milk)
  • Minimize maintenance costs