Nutritionist Jess Argyle of Jerome, Idaho, says despite higher prices for rolled corn and regionally imported ration components, dairy producers should push for more milk and higher components, being careful not to lose milk production while looking for good buys on commodities. “Don’t short-change the cows. Push for production,” Argyle says. “I’ve never been able to cut out or cut back on feed and save money. We always lose more in production than what we can save in cutting back on feed.”

Argyle can tell experiences about previous clients who decided to pull or cut back on high-priced ration components during commodity upswings, only to lose more in milk production. Despite his protests and warnings, he said he has witnessed a client’s high-producing cows go from 80 pounds of milk per day to 65 pounds of milk when pulling out and lowering the amounts of commodities in the ration to save about 30 cents in ration costs.

Argyle, a nutritionist for 14 years, consults 32 dairy producers throughout southern Idaho and northern Utah as an employee of Standard Nutrition Co. Like other nutritionists and dairymen, Argyle has seen rolled corn prices increase from $125 per ton last crop season to over $180 per ton this season. Most whole corn is shipped from the Midwest to Idaho, and there are very few options available when trying to cut back because it is such a critical component of the ration, he says.

As transportation costs and most other imported commodity prices increase, Argyle looks for opportunities to utilize home- or local-grown forages and feeds. Argyle suggests taking advantage of local byproducts and locally grown feeds.

When clients get antsy about the cost of their rations increasing, he reassures them that the highest possible production, not least cost, is best. Dairymen should be looking at income-over-feed costs and milk efficiency to measure their profitability and productivity, he says. PD


Jess Argyle

Nutritionist Standard Nutrition Company