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Using Precision Feed Management to Improve Profitability on Dairy Farms.

Grant Program: OAR
Agricultural Sector: Dairy
Region: Statewide
Project Duration: 4/1/2015 - 3/31/2017
Amount Awarded: $100,000.00
Lead Organization: Cornell University
Project Leader: Kevin Ganoe
Co-Leader: David Balbian
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Proposal Abstract

This project will use the precision feed management (PFM) benchmarks and their associated profitability and environmental indicators as a common data set for discussing feed management issues with 21 participating farms. Dairy farm owner/operators often indicate the value in learning from their counterparts so three discussion groups will be formed for the project.  Learning from others can be a valuable educational moment but too often farms discuss their practices among themselves but do not do so comparing "apples to apples".  This common data set should allow participating farms to better understand what another farm is doing in comparison to their own farm and to better assess the value of a practice from another farm.

This project will show participants that PFM can be a powerful tool to highlight opportunities to improve the economics of feeding dairy cattle. The expectation is that at least 75% of the participants will improve net milk income per cow minus total feed costs by at least $.30 /cow/day and net milk income minus concentrate costs by $.40/cow/day by the end of the project. Data from Cornell's Dairy Farm Business Summary program shows that herds with the highest net milk income per cow minus feed cost are typically the highest profit herds. In fact, the correlation is typically an r2 of .50 or slightly higher.

Final Report Summary Statement

This dairy farm project concentrated on the two most economically impactful areas of the business. Feed cost is the largest expense on dairy farms. Milk income is the largest income item on dairy farms. Financial data from Cornell shows that net milk income/cow/day minus feed cost has the highest correlation to overall dairy farm profitability than any other measure. 
19 farms completed the project. They saw an average improvement of $267.47 per farm per day in net milk income minus total feed cost and an average improvement of $253.83 per farm per day in net milk income minus concentrate cost. This translates into an average annual improvement per farm of $97,626.55 over total feed cost and $92,647.95 over concentrate cost. 

Organic herds (3) faired very well economically. For the most part, the better performing herds at the beginning of the project improved the most.    

Project Impact Data

Producers Participating: 21

Producers Advising: 6

Research/Extension Employed: 0.35

Increase in Gross Farm Revenue: $5,301.14

Capital Investment: $700,000.00

Potential Industry Impact: $5,490,000.00

Articles/Publications: 1

Presentations: 1

Total Producers Engaged: 1500

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