Cows at feeding bunk.
April 2, 2018

Western Corn Belt Dairy Budgets Turn Ugly

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Calculated dairy budgets for tie stall and freestall herds in Nebraska and Iowa turned an ugly shade of red in February, says Robert Tigner, and Extension educator with the University of Nebraska.


The lowest cost herd, the freestall herd achieving 24,000 lb of milk per cow, saw a total loss of 22¢/cwt. Tie stall herds achieving just 20,000 lb of milk per cow saw a budgeted loss of $3.25/cwt, says Tigner.


The budget was based on $15.38 milk (that included a positive 32¢/cwt PPD), corn at $3.47/cwt, soybean meal at $330/ton and alfalfa hay at $185/ton. Feed costs were running about 10¢/lb, but included replacement and dry cow feed as well.


The negative margins came as a result of increased feed costs and much lower protein prices.  The butterfat price and SCC adjustor also declined. “There was barely enough money available in the 20,000- pound freestall budget to pay all production costs and the employees needed for the dairy farm,” says Tigner. “In the tie stall budgets, only the 24,000-pound budget had enough cash to pay labor costs. Neither tie stall budget had positive economic returns.”