Cost of Nutrients: Ohio, May 2003,

Dr. Normand St-Pierre, Dairy Specialist, Ohio State University 

The cost of major nutrients remains high. The average cost per megacalorie (Mcal) of net energy lactation (NEL) has steadily gone up over the last 6 to 8 months. As of May 2003, NEL was costing an Ohio dairy producer an average of 7.5 cents per Mcal, a figure which is historically high. Effective fiber (e-NDF) is also relatively expensive at 9.7 cents/lb. Fortunately, these are counter-balanced by reasonable (rumen degradable protein, RDP at 3.3 cents/lb) to low prices (digestible rumen undegradable protein, D-RUP at 16.7 cents/lb; non-effective fiber, ne-NDF at -3.1 cents/lb) for other nutrients. This indicates that proper ration balancing, especially for energy and effective fiber, is currently an important factor in controlling feed costs in our dairy herds.

Table 1. Estimates of nutrient unit costs.

Nutrient name
NEL - 3X (2001 NRC)
Digestible RUP

- A blank means that the nutrient unit cost is likely equal to zero.
- ~ means that the nutrient cost may be close to zero.
- * means that the nutrient cost is unlikely to be equal to zero.
- **means that the nutrient cost is most likely not equal to zero.

It is also a time to look closely at the ingredients making up the dairy diets. There are some bargains out there, notably bakery byproduct, gluten feed, distillers dried grains, and wheat middlings. Any producer currently using beet pulp, canola meal, or citrus pulp should talk to their herd nutritionist. It may be time to strategically re-think the feeding program. Unless you are feeding high producing cows (>100 lb/day), the use of blood meal should be minimized. Even if one factors amino acids into balancing dairy diets, fish meal should be considered a grossly overpriced feed ingredient and the same results can be achieved using combinations of other ingredients at a much lower cost.



Table 2. Calibration set.

Table 3. Appraisal set.

Actual [$/T]
Predicted [$/T]
Blood Meal, ring dried
Fish Menhaden Meal, mechanized

These estimates were derived using the software SESAME Version 2.05 written at The Ohio State University. For additional information, please refer to Buckeye Dairy News Vol. 5, Issue 2, March 2003.