Fertrell Blog

Thinning Out the Herd

I think it is safe to state that many dairy farmers out there have been dealing with some tough times.  With some flooded markets out there, milk producers have been dealing with lower prices and quotas.  And sure, every situation is different.  Some folks may have very low debt or additional forms of income.   Maybe some dairy farmers are certified organic and are persisting with the higher organic milk prices.  But that is not the case many dairy producers out there.  Numerous farmers are focusing on spending less however they can.  Either way, it seems that many people are thinking “that it doesn’t pay” to put more milk in the tank.

                Even though that all may change, it is possible that situation will stick around for some time.  Therefore, this may be a great opportunity to thin out the herd, literally.  In my experience, getting rid of cows is not very exciting to most farmers.  However, in a time when there are quotas out there and higher production is not always rewarded, this may be the best time for it.

                How many of you may have been thinking about feeding less roasted beans to save money?  There are a few reasons why that may not be the best area to cut down cost.  First of all, breeding can begin to suffer.  The lack of protein from skimping on the roasted beans, can lead to lower conception rates.  Or possibly, things can begin to get messed up for the next lactation.  We all need to remember, how in cows, everything we do today can have huge effects down the road.  Once cows lose their reserves, it is extremely hard to build them back up.  Surly some of you have seen how difficult it can be to get some serious body condition back on to certain animals.  Even if you’re strictly grass fed, I am sure you are looking for some other way to cut down on cost in a big way. 

                So with all of that being said, the way to prevent all of that and still lower cost, would be to cull some animals.  This could be a great opportunity to get rid of some of the problem animals and poor genetics.   Some of these may be poor breeders or have a super high SCC, for example.   With doing this, you can focus on feeding your healthiest cows and have less labor to deal with.  Also, less cows at the same feeding rates will save money as well as keep production at the proper quota levels.  Another plus to this is that one could bring in the dry cows and heifers into the barn early.  This can better help them be trained to get into the stalls at an earlier time.  And also, having them fill the stalls can help prevent the pipes from freezing come winter.

                As always, this is just some good food for thought.  I realize that improving the herd is always on the forefront of the operation.  This potentially could be one of the best times to really focus on getting some of those poor genetics out the door and bettering the herd in the long run.

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The Fertrell Company blog is for farmers, backyard gardeners, and homesteaders alike. Learn from the experts on all things natural and organic for both soil and livestock.

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