Evaluating Forage Costs and Management

Project entitled:

Tool for Assessing the Cost of Producing and Using Fodder

Édith Charbonneau, Doris Pellerin, Guy Allard, Philippe Savoie, René Roy, Diane Parent, Daniel Lefebvre, Caroline Collard, Marielle Laferrière


Several studies have demonstrated the economic benefits of having ideal fodder on dairy farms. However, the methods to efficiently produce and use fodder are slow at being implemented optimally within Quebec businesses. Several factors may be involved, including the dearth of tools available to adequately identify areas for improvement in fodder management and thus select the appropriate corrective action. An evaluation grid to diagnose the valuation of fodder in dairy farms was therefore developed.

The grid was designed by a group of six experts and validated with seven agricultural stakeholders. In 2010, 20 Quebec dairy farms put it to the test. Using four main indicators and nine secondary indicators, four aspects of fodder valuation were assessed: fodder production, fodder production cost, the efficiency of harvesting sites and the use of fodder by the herd. The grid proved functional under every fodder, stabling and feeding management modes encountered on the farms that participated in the test. It met the expectations of advisors and farmers. It identifies the strengths and weaknesses of businesses and allows a diagnosis. By contributing to the improvement of technical and economic performance in fodder management, the grid will be a valuable tool to increase the profitability of Quebec dairy farms.

In this project, exploratory research on the motivations for and obstacles to the adoption of four fodder management practices also showed that the mere presence of the evaluation grid encouraged the use of the practices proposed to participants. The study also highlighted the role of advisors in the adoption of agricultural innovations.