In 2014, we wrote in this magazine about how milk components affect the milk cheque. Ever since, the value of milk/hectolitre has changed substantially, mainly due to the value of milk protein. At the time, milk protein was paid at $8.92/kg and is now is paid at $6.45. Milk fat was paid at $9.88 and now it’s paid at $10.55. The value of milk butterfat therefore increased while the value of milk protein decreased substantially during these years.
Naturally, high levels of both fat and protein are important for the profitability of the farm. However, from a practical management/formulation stand point, it is much easier to manipulate milk fat than it is to manipulate milk protein. Moreover, it is usually less costly to achieve through diet formulation. If the farm is not filling its milk fat quota, working toward filling it should be a priority. Feed costs may increase but typically the return is favorable.
Let’s see how improving milk fat production, considering the current milk component price reality, can impact farm income:
As we can see, increasing milk fat production led to a substantial increase of the farm’s bottom lineby by almost $18,000/year, even with an increase of $0.50/head/day in feed costs. Since milk producers are paid per kilo of milk component, the objective should therefore be to produce the highest number of kilos of fat and protein while keeping the cows healthy.
Milk components are a key part of dairy farm profitability. To improve it, farmers need the right combination of milk components and milk production. Good genetics, proper nutrition and feeding management practices are essential to making the most of multiple component pricing.