This graph shows the typical errors in loading mixer wagons on nine dairy farms. The blue bars show the average deviations between the quantities of mixed rations that should have been loaded daily versus what actually got loaded(1). Farm 8 loads on average about 600 kg mixed ration in excess of what is needed, farm 6 about 50 Kg below the quantity needed.  

Assuming the same milk price and feed costs, which of these dairy farms is likely to generate the highest income over feed cost  (IOFC) per cow?  

At face value farm 10 looks like doing very well as on average it loads about the right, prescribed quantities of mixed ration in the TMR wagon. But is it also the most profitable farm?

Research has shown that averages hide a bigger issue: the daily variations of what gets fed to dairy cows is a significant issue. These daily fluctuations are represented on the graph by the vertical lines;  the longer, the bigger the daily variations. Farms 3 and 9 are clearly far more consistent day by day. By feeding about the same quantities of mixed ration every single day, the cows will tend to do better and produce more milk. This can easily be more than 3 litres of extra milk per cow per day. Per 100 cows this results in about €20.000 additional IOFC every single year.

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  (1): R. James, B. Cox. Proceedings 45th Florida Dairy Production Conference, Gainesville.