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Dairy matters

June may be the official month to celebrate dairy, but dairies deserve recognition every month, says Steve Dick, executive director of Ag United for South Dakota.

They make big contributions to the economy and represent a significant market for grain in the region. “Many farmers may not recognize that dairies are one of their biggest customers,” Dick says.

Take Drumgoon Dairy as an example. It’s a 1,800-cow dairy near Lake Norden, S.D., operated by Rodney and Dorothy Elliott. The Elliotts don’t farm. They focus exclusively on managing their cows and young stock.

Key Points

Dairies are among the leading customers of grain producers.

Feed purchases are significant for dairies that don’t raise crops, too.

Some dairies use lots of the byproducts from ag processing.

“I’d be pulled in too many directions and probably wouldn’t do either well,” Rodney says. Instead, they buy all of their feed — nearly $4.5 million worth of corn, corn silage, hay and other grains and byproducts. It all comes from neighbors and nearby ethanol plants.

“That’s money that stays in the county,” Rodney says. Even the traditional dairies, which produce their own corn silage and hay, have a positive impact on their neighbors.

Entzminger Dairy, Jamestown, N.D., substitutes ag processing byproducts for corn in rations whenever it can. It uses potato waste, sunflower screenings, distillers grains and canola meal. The purchases are significant.

The 800-cow dairy, which also raises its own replacement heifers, buys 208 semiloads of potato waste, 32 semiloads each of distillers grains and canola meal, and 21 semiloads of sunflower meal each year.

“We’re lucky,” says Terry Entzminger, who manages the family’s dairy. “North Dakota is blessed with many great byproduct options, and we use as many as we can.”

WATCHING DOLLARS: Terry Entzminger feeds as many potato, corn ethanol, sunflower and canola processing byproducts to his cows as possible. Substituting byproducts for corn makes the dairy more efficient and provides a local market for ag processing plants.

This article published in the June, 2011 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.