|Harrigan, Timothy - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY|
Submitted to: Silage Production from Seed to Animal Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 11, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Feed production forms a major portion of the total cost of production on dairy farms. For most dairies, a primary feed is silage. Being a primary feed and a major cost, the economics of silage production can have a large influence on farm profit. To better manage their farms, producers need to know the costs of silage production, how these costs compare to other forage production methods and what can be done to reduce costs and improve profit. Determining feed production costs and their influence on farm profit is not easy. Dairy farms are complex systems with many components to manage. These include crop production, harvest, storage, feeding, milk production and handling, manure management, tillage, and planting. Many of these components interact with weather and each other, so a change in one part of the farm may cause changes throughout other farm components. DAFOSYM is a simulation model that accounts for all of these components, their interactions, and the resulting influence on farm profit. By simulating several forage systems for the same base farm and weather, the long-term performance and economics can be compared to determine the best options. Information generated guides dairy producers toward more well informed strategic decisions as they plan their future.
Technical Abstract: The long-term performance and economics of forage systems are best evaluated and compared using a simulation model of the dairy farm called DAFOSYM. Average alfalfa silage production costs range from about $85/ton DM on a 100-cow farm to $60/ton DM on a 500-cow farm. Corn silage production costs are lower ranging from $74/ton DM on the smaller farm to $57/ton DM on the larger farm. The major cost in silage production is that of machinery which includes depreciation, repairs and maintenance, and the next major cost is that of the storage structure. On dairy farms where small amounts of hay are produced, hay production costs are higher near $100/ton DM. Grazing is a less costly method of forage production with a typical cost near $30/ton DM. When grazing is integrated with hay and silage production on a dairy farm, the effect of grazing on farm profit is much less clear. When the same equipment and facilities are maintained, use of grazing increases the costs of producing hay and silage which offsets some or all of the potential improvement in farm profit