Milk quality is a popular topic in dairy profitability discussions. Dairy experts stress to dairy farmers they should evaluate their operations to see if any basic changes could help them capture quality premiums.
In this month’s Eastern Dairy Reporter, Lancaster Farming focused on milk quality and data management with feature stories on the region’s two DHIA systems and a farm focused on milk quality as part of its business plan.
In the dairy farm feature, Jimmy and Denise Carmack said the bonuses shored up their bottom line.
Milk quality bonus programs vary based on the individual cooperative or dairy processor. Yet, the difference between milk quality penalties to the top-level bonus can equal more than a dollar per hundredweight.
Looking at one cooperative’s pricing system, the most severe milk penalty is a deduction of 30 cents per hundredweight. In contrast, its highest quality payment is 80 cents per hundredweight.
So, what does that really mean? If an 80-cow dairy that ships 150,000 pounds per month is penalized 30 cents, it will have a deduction of $450 from its milk check. If a dairy achieved a midline quality bonus of 40 cents it would receive an additional $600. And if a dairy had a top herd, the payout would be an additional $1,200 per month. The top and bottom herds, based on milk quality alone will see a difference of $1,650 per month.
Still think milk quality does not pay? Consider that the cost to the dairy that does not manage milk quality also will include higher levels of involuntary culls, increased vet bills to treat mastitis and udder health issues, and lost milk production.
Milk quality is not easy and the wet spring weather can challenge even the best of farmers. However, working to improve milk quality can have a positive impact on the farm bottom line.