Five Things You Should Be Asking Your Dairy Nutritionist

Cow : Management

Alex Tebbe, Ph.D.

Dairy Technical Specialist and Consultant

1. How much will it cost to feed my cows? 

Feed is the single greatest expense of a dairy, and it also arguably has the most far-reaching impact. While a seemingly simple question, this is one producers should be asking more frequently. This is especially true when it comes to preparing premixes or concentrate mixes using additives. It’s important to know what additives are being included in a ration. In times of financial strain, knowing what exactly an additive does and the value it’s providing you and your herd can help you make important financial decisions.

2. What is the value of my forage?

Oftentimes, producers understand how much it costs to make forage, but the final value of the forage can sometimes go unnoticed. Are you getting the best value to enhance your rations? As we near harvest and are seeing rising feed costs, now is the time to focus on not only your forage quality, but quantity so you have plenty to feed your cows all year around.

3. How often will you be on my farm? 

The greatest tools a nutritionist has are their senses and the ability to use them while they’re walking through your barns. Is the feed being delivered being eaten? How is the cow handling the nutrition? Do the cows appear comfortable? What does their body condition score look like? It’s important to make sure your nutritionist is spending the time to look for these types of things.

 4. What can I be doing better? 

Your nutritionist sees a lot of farms and different operating systems. From labor efficiency to better cow comfort, ask your nutritionist if they have ideas on how you can make improvements on your farm because the last thing you want is to become complacent and fall behind industry standards. Work with your nutritionist and their team to discover the latest and greatest practices that can help you and your cows.

 5. How can you help me turn insights into action? 

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Measuring data on the farm allows you to evaluate where you can make improvements and develop benchmarks. Important metrics to track and benchmark include production at each stage of lactation, health and reproduction. Your nutritionist should be able to look at this data with you to evaluate it, adjust variables and set goals for overall health and profitability of your operation.
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