Is the grass always greener?
Macalister Demonstration Farm Update 540 (16th April 2021)
This report, using real and current information, endeavours to calculate and assess meaningfully one part, a very influential part, of the farm profit story, i.e. the feed margin for the MDF.
This week, the report compares the MDF feed margin with another farm’s performance (near Busselton, WA). There is no grass growing, nor being grazed, at the WA farm. The cows are being fed only with supplements. The “back-calculation from milk production” of grass consumption per cow is -0.1 kg per cow, which is effectively zero. This shows that the calculation method used in this report is a fair representation of what is happening on both farms.
The milk price for both farms is using the same payment system (Fonterra). The supplement (conc and silage) price is a little higher in WA. The margin over all feed costs per cow at the MDF is $6.10. The margin over all feed costs per cow at the WA farm is $7.21. It is a bit pointless to compare the feed margins “per hectare” when the WA is not using any hectares to grow or supply feed.
The WA farm is in a more profitable position, even with no grazed grass, because of much higher cow intake and milk production. Its extra dollar per cow should easily cover feeding infrastructure and machinery.
The WA supplements (silage, canola, wheat, barley, lupins, minerals) are high quality and the mixed ration provides a good balance of energy, protein and fibre, fed in a system that has a low level of waste.
The WA cows have a very high intake level because the herd’s capacity to eat has been well developed, high quantity is available/offered, and the diet quality, particularly fibre %, allows this high level of intake.
Note that the WA cost of feed “per kg of MS” is higher, and the proportion of grazed pasture is zero, so these don’t appear to be useful indicators to monitor or chase. It has been suggested that profit ratios should be worked out “per kg of MS”. The MDF feed margin “per kg MS” is $4.04 and the WA farm’s is $3.48 per kg MS so that doesn’t appear to be useful indicator to monitor or chase either. Grass consumption per hectare and milk per cow do drive the margin. Either one, but both even better.
|FEED MARGIN PERFORMANCE||MDF TEN DAYS AGO||MDF THIS TEN DAYS||ANOTHER FARM||Units|
|Ten days to date:||31-Mar-21||10-Apr-21||10-Apr-21|
|Milker graze area||61||61||110||Ha|
|Average graze rest time||31||32||0||Days|
|Estm’d pasture consmp’n||32||31||0||kg DM/ha/day|
|Pasture consum’d per cow||6.9||6.6||0.1||kg DM/cow/day|
|Pasture growing spend||$6.19||$5.74||$0.00||$/ha/day|
|Estm’d pasture price||$194||$187||$0||$/T DM|
|Conc (incl additives)supp fed/cow||6.8||6.8||8.7||kg DM/cow/day|
|Conc (incl additives)supp avg price||$393||$393||$434||$/T DM|
|Hay/silage supp fed/cow||2.3||2.3||13.0||kg DM/cow/day|
|Hay/silage supp price||$222||$222||$258||$/T DM|
|Feed Conversion Efficiency||102||96||95||kg MS/tonne DM|
|Total feed intake/cow||15.5||15.2||21.3||kg DM/cow/day|
|NDF Fibre in diet||29.8%||29.7%||35.4%||% NDF|
|Milk Solids per cow||1.63||1.51||2.07||kg/cow/day|
|Milk price (less levies)/kg MS||$6.75||$6.98||$6.92||$/kg MS|
|Milk price (less levies)/litre||$0.59||$0.59||$0.50||$ per litre|
|All feed cost/cow||$4.53||$4.43||$7.14||$/cow/day|
|Margin over all Feed/cow||$6.46||$6.10||$7.21||$/cow/day|
|MOAF /ha /day||$29.86||$28.22||$21.23||$/ha/day|
|Farm MOAF per DAY||$1,821||$1,721||$2,335||$/day|
|Feed cost $/kg MS||$2.78||$2.94||$3.44||$/ kg MS|
|Proportion of grazed grass in diet||45%||44%||0%||%|