Landmark's Forage Forecasting and Conservation Strategies

John DavisAgribusiness, Conservation, cooperatives, Dairy, Forage

landmark_logoMargins for dairy producers are expected to stay pretty tight in 2015, so the folks at Landmark Services Cooperative are offering some advice to better forecast forage production and conserving the feed on hand.

“One of the biggest areas of improvement that we continually see is that producers do not conduct an animal inventory or a forage usage projection,” says John Binversie, dairy specialist with Landmark Services Cooperative. “If we know livestock inventories and have a balanced ration in place, creating a budget for total tons of forage needed for the season is a fairly simple task.”

Build a budget

To build a forage usage projection or budget, all forage consuming animals must be accounted for. Rations fed will dictate the total tons of forage needed to satisfy the overall forage demands on the operation.

Don’t overlook taking normal levels of shrinkage into consideration when creating a forage budget. Producing approximately 15 percent more than your anticipated forage needs will allow for ample carryover in emergency situations, says Binversie…

Evaluate harvest and storage

Poor harvesting and storage techniques ultimately lead to the loss of countless tons of forage each year. A variety of tools are available to combat these costly expenses that often go unaccounted.

Forage inoculants are one such tool that can help reduce shrink. “While the upfront cost of preservatives may cause some to second guess their economic return, studies have consistently shown a 3:1 cost advantage,” says Binversie…

Creative solutions

Review the nutritional demands of the livestock on your operation. “Perhaps, there is an opportunity to grow a crop that produces higher tonnage at a lower nutritional value,” says Binversie. For example, feeding sorghum sudan, oatlage or ryegrass in a heifer ration.

Binversie adds that it’s never too early to begin planning.