A quick, easy and free method of evaluating your dairy herd’s feed consumption or cost of production is being made available by University of Wisconsin Extension.

“Constructing feed budgets for the heifer or lactating cow enterprise separately or for both combined can be particularly challenging,” says Ken Bolton, UW Extension dairy/livestock agent.

“Whether you are approaching decisions affecting cost of production or building enterprise or whole-farm analysis budgets for FINPACK, quick access to a simple but accurate approach to determining expected feed usage amounts and cost of production can help facilitate the process,” he says.

Called “Estimated Dairy Cow Feed Consumption and Cost,” the program is in an interactive Excel spreadsheet format. It can provide estimated cost and usage (intake plus waste) amounts specific to the annual milk production level of a herd.

The Feed$Cow spreadsheet takes a quick look at daily feed costs/cwt of milk produced based on the mature cow herd, lactating and dry, for default- and user-inputted feed values. The Feed$Heifer spreadsheet uses a similar approach and both are combined on the Feed$Herd spreadsheet.

Feed cost sensitivity tables for forage, corn and soybean meal are produced from default- and user-defined input based on feed cost per cwt per day on each page.

The Feed$Budgets spreadsheet guides users toward realistic feed usage levels for the lactating, replacement heifer and combined whole-herd enterprises.

Download the program free; click on Spreadsheets.