Tips to maximize profitability in dairy

An improved feeding strategy is likely a better route than simply cutting costs

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Given the speed of shifts in demand in the Canadian dairy industry this year, it’s hard to predict with any certainty of accuracy what the next five years might look like, and how the industry might evolve.

Nevertheless, during Canada’s Digital Farm Show in September, Pioneer dairy specialist Ashley Knapton hosted a virtual round table discussion with industry experts Michael Barrett, CEO of Gay Lea Foods, and Matt Groen, dairy nutritionist with Cargill/Purina.

The discussion covered many topics of interest to Canadian dairy producers, reflecting on the importance of maintaining flexibility and profitability in these ever-changing times.

“COVID is a substantial crisis we’re all dealing with, but it’s not the only game in town. In fact, it’s ‘masking’ so to speak, some of the other challenges the industry is and was already facing,” Michael Barrett said.

During the round table discussion, Barrett provided a summary of some of the most significant challenges facing the industry now and in future years, calling for dairy farmers and processors to be efficient and innovative, and to support industry investment in processing, which will be essential to manage new trade challenges.

“We need to make sure we’re aligned and able to work together as producer and processor organizations. I will continue to advocate for one dairy voice that recognizes that this is not us versus them, it’s being able to respond to challenges in the marketplace, and focusing on what’s right for the entire industry,” Barrett said.

During the discussion, Knapton and Groen discussed effective ways to manage feed costs, which are among the highest costs in any dairy operation.

Groen emphasized the importance of optimizing feeding strategy overall rather than just attempting to reduce ration costs.

“It’s not just the ration, it’s the environment, it’s cow comfort, it’s genetics, and it’s the whole integrated big picture. If we get all those things right, we can often find key opportunities to reduce or optimize costs so we’re spending the right dollars in the right place to get the right return at the right time,” he said.

Groen and Knapton also discussed feed inventory, TMR mixing, alternative forages, the highest yielding ratio options, and much more. To watch the full round table discussion, visit the content for Canada’s Digital Farm Show, still accessible online through

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