Dairy farmers face increased feed costs after drought - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Dairy farmers face increased feed costs after last summer's drought

More than 2,700 cows are milked three times a day at Plymouth Dairy Farms. More than 2,700 cows are milked three times a day at Plymouth Dairy Farms.
LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -

The Midwest Dairy Association says the average American drinks about 20 gallons of milk each year.

Consumers are paying a little more for that gallon these days, but farmers say they're not cashing in on it. In fact, some say it's actually harder to make ends meet.

Kurt Wierda is proud to watch his dairy cow operation in action.

"We're doing things today, that we didn't think we'd be doing ten, even five years ago," said Wierda.

His more than 2,700 cows get milked three times a day. Wierda monitors them to make sure every one is healthy and producing quality milk.

"We can always go back to the computer and we can find out actually what stall she was milked in, who the actual person was that milked that cow," said Wierda.

Plymouth Dairy Farms produces about 250,000 pounds of milk a day. That's enough to fill up to five tankers. Dairy farmers get paid based on 100 pounds of milk. While they're getting about 56 cents more per 100 pounds this year, farmers say those numbers don't tell the whole story.

"I would consider it a deceptive thing. Our input costs have also gone up dramatically. So, I would say it's a little tougher to make ends meet this year than it was a year ago," said Londa Boogerd, a farmer.

The environment is a big factor. Farmers say last summer's drought drove up the cost of feed.

"There's not as much hay out there. It's a supply and demand market, and when there's not as much supply, demand goes up, and the price goes up with it," said Boogerd.

"So, we had to scramble to try to find some silage. This year, right now, the crops look pretty good, but if we don't get any rain here, we might have a problem," said Feuerhelm.

"If we can get a rain or two in these next couple of weeks, it'll be exciting," said Boogerd.

Good feed for cattle could mean more milk, and more money, for those who work to deliver it to our dinner table.

Cows at Plymouth Dairy are rotated through about 4 or 5 times every hour. Crews work around the clock, but farmers say the cows spend at least half of their days relaxing, or sleeping.

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