A dairy farm family says shifting production towards quality over quantity has definitely increased profitability.
Julie Maurer manages the people, the milking parlor, and many office duties for Soaring Eagle Dairy near Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She tells Brownfield she noticed some farms were making more money for their milk. “I had noticed that some of our peers had better pay prices in their milk checks last year, and so I asked our rep at our co-op to take our components up to what my peers had seen that year and the result was about a 55-cent increase per hundredweight.”
And with 900 Holsteins, Maurer says that adds up fast. “Yeah, they’re real dollars, and so we worked really hard to try and figure out what the hole was in our system that needed some attention. As a result, we’ve made a pretty large investment in a corn storage and drying operation here so that we have better flexibility and hope (we) can achieve those higher components.”
Maurer tells Brownfield they previously had more high-moisture corn in the rations, but their on-farm trials showed dried corn boosted the herd’s ability to achieve the desirable and more valuable milk component levels. She says they have also invested in parlor upgrades to lower the somatic cell count. Maurer tells Brownfield the older meters and controllers might have been part of the problem. “There was some concern that the meters that we had were restrictive, not allowing cows that were producing 35 or 40 pounds of milk in four minutes, not allowing ample space for that milk to pass through resulting in too much vacuum fluctuation.”
Maurer says they had been running about 225-thousand for their somatic cell count before the change, but the early numbers look good. “We’re 30-days in (with the upgraded equipment) and our somatic cell count is down to about 175 (-thousand) so certainly, we’re seeing some positive early results.”
Maurer is optimistic the somatic cell count will continue to drop, making the new equipment a good investment.
Soaring Eagle Dairy is a supplier to Land O’ Lakes Cooperative.