Should a Dairyman Grow High Moisture Corn?

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Under favorable circumstances the production and use of high moisture corn by dairymen can be a profitable practice. Considerations are: 1. A dairyman should first determine the best size of herd for him and produce the roughage needs of the herd. Corn silage and hay crop silage yield more nutrients per acre at a lower cost per unit any other source and they are easiest to mechanize. 2. Then the farmer can consider high moisture corn. 3. Dairymen who cannot obtain an average yield per acre of 60 bushels of dry shelled corn should not consider producing high moisture corn. At lower yields costs per ton increase rapidly and will likely exceed feeding value per ton. Production will be more profitable as yields increase. 4. Herd size should be at least 50 cows. A dairyman with a smaller herd would likely have a problem maintaining quality in warm weather even with a small diameter silo. Profit potential increases as quantity fed increases. 5. Present equipment and existing storage may enable a dairyman to use high moisture corn with a minimum of new investment. 6. Quantity of high moisture corn handled becomes more important when new investment in equipment and/or storage is necessary. 7. At least 40 acres of 60 bushel corn should be harvested to justify new harvesting equipment when dry shelled corn costs $60 per ton ground and delivered. Smaller tonnages may result in harvesting equipment costs high enough to cause the total costs per ton of high moisture corn to exceed the feed value per ton. Smaller acreages could be feasible if the yield was correspondingly higher. 8. Within the above limitations high moisture corn and cribbed ear corn are likely to have a higher feed value per dollar of cost than commercial dairy rations. 9. Nutrient value of high moisture corn varies with the moisture content and the amount fed must be adjusted accordingly.
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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
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