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Grain shortages and shipping uncertainties highlight the importance of planning ahead

With calving underway, dairy farmers are being urged to plan ahead, as feed availability is affected by global shortages along with slow and intermittent international shipping.

“We are continuing to see the impact of a grain shortage, especially relating to starch-based feeds for this season,” says GrainCorp Feeds General Manager Daniel Calcinai. “There may be a few options available in some areas, but generally starch is short until next years’ harvest.”

Starch is an important source of energy for dairy cows as it is quickly absorbed and enables rumen fermentation so that pasture and other sources of energy are more easily digested.

“We have a couple of starch products available, but we are being cautious with our offering, based on intermittent international shipping,” says Daniel.

“To offset this starch shortage and poor pasture quality in many regions, we are seeing increased demand for fibre-based feeds, such as Soyhull or Oat Hull, complemented with high energy bypass fats, such as Polyfat.”

Energy is a critical requirement post calving. Daniel advises farmers to include additional products in their feed blend to help maintain optimal rumen function to improve the efficiency of converting feed to energy.

“Tailoring your feed blend to meet the nutritional needs of your herd and to suit your farm system can provide a significant return on investment.

“Using the right blend can also help in situations where high energy starch-based feeds are in short supply.”

Maximising the return on investment

As farmers are seeing increasing costs across the board, Daniel says it is becoming difficult to achieve a cost-effective balance between inputs and production.

“It’s becoming more challenging to balance the increasing range of input costs while maximising the return on investment. Despite the higher milk price in the current market, the rising cost of milk production could still place pressure on the margin and the return.

“Farmers who use feed planning and monitoring tools can maximise the margins more effectively in this volatile environment, by making proactive, fact-based feeding and farm management decisions, supporting the end goal.

“While it can be challenging to plan ahead, it can add a lot of value in the long term and can help you make sound decisions with positive outcomes. With some of the tools on offer, this process is becoming easier.”