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How To Calculate The Feed Cost Of Dairy Cows

Date: 07/02/2020 08:36:39 From: Clicks:

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What feed costs?

One would think that it should be easy to calculate feed costs, but it isn’t for four reasons:

1) what costs should be used for homegrown feeds,

2) what animals should be included,

3) who pays for the left-over, and

4) costs per unit of what?

feed costs

For what animals

When calculating feed costs, some people include only the lactating cows, others include lactating and dry cows, and still others include lactating cows, dry cows, and replacement heifers. Good thing that the cost of feeding one’s family is never included…

What animals are accounted for while calculating feed costs makes a lot of difference.

Let us look at a simple example. Our virtual herd milks 85 lactating cows producing an average of 70 lbs/day and eating 50.5 lbs of dry matter (DM) priced at an average of $0.115/lb. The herd feeds 15 dry cows eating an average of 25 lbs of DM/d, priced at $0.10/lb. The herd raises 50 young heifers (< 12 months) that eat an average of 14 lbs of DM/d, priced at $0.09/lb, and 50 yearlings eating an average of 25 lbs of DM/day, priced at $0.08/lb.

The cost of feeding the 85 lactating cows is calculated as: 85 x 50.5 x $0.115 = $493.64/day, for an average of $5.81/lactating cow per day. The cost of feeding the 15 dry cows is: 15 x 25 x $0.10 = $37.50/day, or $2.50/dry cow per day. For the young heifers, the daily feed costs are: 50 x 14 x $0.09 = $63/day, or $1.26/young heifer per day.

Lastly, the daily cost to feed the older heifers is: 50 x 22 x $0.08 = $88/day, or $1.76/yearling per day. The herd produces 85 x 70 = 5,950 lbs of milk per day (or 59.5 cwt./day).

If one accounts only for the lactating cows, feed costs are equal to $493.64 ÷ 59.5 = $8.30/cwt.

If one also accounts for the dry cows, feed costs are now ($493.64 + $37.50) ÷ 59.5 = $8.93/cwt.

Lastly, if one also accounts for the replacement herd, then feed costs become ($493.64 + $37.50 + $63 + $88) ÷ 59.5 = $11.46/cwt.

So, which animals you are counting make a lot of difference.

dairy farm
dairy farm

How To Calculate The Feed Cost Of Dairy Cows

To illustrate with an example, we will use a 142-cow milking Holstein herd in Kentucky.


Feed costs:

Ingredient Cost per ton Cost per lb Inclusion in Diet (lbs) Cost in Diet
Corn Silage 40 0.02 60 $1.20
Balage 60 0.03 10 $0.30
Fine Ground Corn 175 0.09 11.5 $1.01
Soybean Meal 445 0.22 6.5 $1.45
Citrus 195 0.10 3.5 $0.34
Concentrate 495 0.25 5 $1.24
Total       $5.53

IOFC = $12.09 (income) - $5.53 (feed costs) = $6.56 per cow per day

IOFC is defined as the portion of income from milk sold that remains after paying for purchased and farm-raised feed used to produce the milk.

Information you need to calculate IOFC:

Milk price average per month

Total milk produced per day over the period of a month

Number of cows as it relates to production during that month

Inputs (amount of feed used)

Cost per ton of feed input (to purchase or produce)

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