Submitted to: Progressive Dairyman
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2022
Publication Date: 6/14/2022
Citation: Miles, A.M. 2022. Getting milk yield right. Progressive Dairyman. https://www.progressivedairy.com/topics/management/getting-milk-yield-right.
Interpretive Summary: Milk, fat, and protein yields are the primary drivers of dairy farm revenues. Arguably, milk and component yields are the most important metrics producers have for farm success and cow health. How do we measure yields, and how can we be confident in those numbers?
Technical Abstract: Milk, fat, and protein yields are the primary drivers of dairy farm revenues. Knowing yields at the herd level helps owners estimate their milk checks and guides economic decisions. Knowing yields at the cow level helps managers estimate how a cow’s health, nutrition, social environment, and milking conditions are affecting her production level. Yields inform daily decisions like milking management, operations management, and culling, and yields have long-term implications for business planning and genetic progress. Typically, only one milking in a day is sampled so this reliably measures only part of her yield. A cow’s total daily (24 hour) yield is estimated from these partial yields. Daily yields are further extrapolated to project total lactation yields. With no standard practice for estimating yields, milking equipment manufacturers, on-farm software platforms, and Dairy Records Processing Centers all use a variety of equations and assumptions to predict daily and lactation yields. This means the same cow could have completely different yield estimations depending on the sources. It is critical that we standardize methodology and update ME factors to reflect the dairy world in 2022 and evaluate new methods to accurately estimate daily yields, predict future yields, and enable fair comparisons between cows.