skip to main content

It's all about the nutrients

Sequim, WA

Dairy Focus Consultant: Jackson Parriera

Key Highlights:

  • Progressing herd health and cash flow
  • Identifying cost savings with farm grown forages
  • Finding profitability with dairy MAX

Cash flow and herd health are frequently two competing factors on any dairy farm. Ben Smith of Maple View Farms in Sequim, Washington, puts it like this:

“Herd health and cash flow are often the angel and devil on our shoulders—we want to save money but we must raise and maintain healthy animals.”

Ben and his brother Troy Smith are the fourth generation to own and operate their family’s farm in northwest Washington, where they currently milk 400 Holsteins and farm 900 acres. Like most dairy farms, cash flow and herd health are a daily challenge and opportunity. One way they have found success is by working with their Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, Jackson Parriera, and Cargill’s MAX™ software to improve feed management.

Feed is a dairy producer’s greatest expense, but Jackson notes managing it on a nutrient level can lead to both savings and improved animal health. Jackson uses MAX and its mountain of data to examine the nutrient quality of every ingredient, from every supplier in the Cargill global nutrition network. MAX even evaluates data beyond ingredients—from on-farm forages, rumen pH, facility layout, physical inputs, herd production, and more.

“MAX is a tool I use every day,” says Jackson. “Every forage sample I take goes into MAX and is instantly compared to the farm’s previous sample, identifying differing nutrients, dry matter, degradable protein, and so on.”

A “what-if scenario” is another MAX tool Jackson uses. A specific “what-if scenario” he tested on Maple View Farms was substituting different protein options in a ration. MAX sorted through the data and found substituting a pound of protein with a pound of homegrown alfalfa provided cost savings of 10 cents/head/day.

“Having Cargill use their MAX software we can get down to a whole deeper level of details in our rations, and with that, make cost-effective decisions,” says Ben.

The deeper level is what Ben refers to as the “trickle-down effect.” When MAX is given a ration change it calculates and shows nutrient level changes to all the other ration ingredients like minerals, DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference) supplements, amino acid balance, and so on. 

“The MAX software allows Jackson to get this information for our farm in a heartbeat,” explains Ben. “We feel like we’re making smarter decisions affecting cow health and profitability.”

Jackson notes that the Cargill Tech Team developed MAX based on years of animal nutrition and consulting experience. In particular, he values the software’s capabilities for identifying nutrients, looking at predictions, and formulating rations.  

“I'm fully confident when I put a diet together that it's going to be the best cost diet with the greatest results based on what the dairy producer wants, and that gives me tremendous confidence,” says Jackson.