Crops to Cow

Examines cropping strategies, the connection with feed management, and ultimately how this can be a win-win situation for profitability and improving the environment.

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Course Details

The dairy operation is a "system" with many parts intertwined. There are an increasing number of outward pressures that impact this system:

  • The market volatility from milk and feed prices
  • The environmental issues encompassing water and air quality, which determine how land and cows can be managed

The decisions made on the cropping enterprise have significant implications to animal performance. The ultimate result is how whole farm profitability is affected.

Crops to Cow Webinar Series

What’s involved


  • How to select silage seed balancing yield, cost, and quality parameters
  • Adjusting cropping strategies to utilize cover crops or alternative forages
  • Calculate costs to grow home raised feeds
  • Practices related to harvesting and storage
  • Sampling corn silage at 2 different time points
    • Fall – after a few weeks fermentation
    • Spring – after several months fermentation

Feed Management

  • Evaluate forages for fiber and starch digestibility
  • Calculate forage inventory
  • Monitor silage dry matter and adjust rations
  • Sample total mixed ration at time of corn silage sampling
  • Actual ration vs. formulated
  • Batch weights with cow numbers to determine dry matter intake


  • Calculate and monitor income over feed costs
  • Make decisions based on economic parameters
  • Beginning and ending balance sheets – cash flow plan


Improve understanding by producer and consultants regarding:

  • Connection between decisions made on cropping practices with feeding management with nutrition and the impact on cash flow and Income Over Feed Costs (IOFC).
  • Crop consultants have improved understanding on their influence with cow performance and economics.
  • Nutritionists have improved understanding how cropping decisions influence nutrition and economics.
Consultants utilize what they learned with other clientele:
  • What did they learn and implement from this project?
  • What were the Successes and Challenges?

Upcoming Webinar Schedule

All webinars are 9 to 10 a.m. EST.

Harvesting and storage practices for corn silage

August 5, 2016
Review the information to collect prior, during and post-harvest. Presented by: Nicole Carutis, Ron Hoover, Rob Goodling, and Virginia Ishler

Feeding management practices and rations fed to the lactating herd

December 2, 2016
Review protocols on determining dry matter intake and collecting the various ingredients being fed. Presented by: Virginia Ishler and Tim Beck.

Recorded Webinars

View Recorded Webinars and Supporting Documents

This webinar series is part of NESARE Project ENE15-136: "The impact of corn silage harvesting and feeding decisions on income over feed costs (IOFC)".

For more information, please contact Virginia Ishler.

Dairy Team

Virginia Ishler, Heather Weeks, Tim Beck, and Rob Goodling, J. Craig Williams

Crops Team

Nicole Carutis, Chris Houser, Dr. Jessica Williamson, Dr. Greg Roth, and Ron Hoover