Diets for dairy cows and heifers need to supply nutrients, not specific ingredients, to support growth, milk production, and the needs of the animals themselves, known as maintenance by nutritionists.  With corn and soybean meal prices increasing tremendously, substitutions in diets for these ingredients may be financially beneficial.  Elanco Animal Health weekly calculates the nutritive value of various by-products, grains, and forages.  To complete these calculations, they use current market prices sourced from USDA data and then use a computer program to predict a nutritive value or price for selected by-products, grains, and forages.  The difference between the market price and predicted price can be a starting point to determine if a particular ingredient is a good buy to consider along with the advice of your nutritionist.  Those ingredients with a positive difference are good buys and those with negative values are overvalued.  

Ingredient Name
Midwest Prices ($/ton)Southeast Prices ($/ton)
Canola Meal455256-199475269-206
Corn Gluten Feed22023111266241-25
Corn Grain, finely ground dry226187-39241221-20
Corn Silage, 35% DM559035629331
Cottonseed Meal 383366-1733337946
Distillers Dried Grains2162796322228563
Hominy Feed1601791917520025
Legume Hay, mid, 40-46% NDF2202238357237-120
Soybean Hulls192186-6197162- 35
Soybean meal, 48%CP449337-72479416-63
Soybean meal, expellers489485-4519516- 3
Wheat midds1681724205173-32
Whole Cottonseed345333-1232035636

* Values in this table were sourced from Elanco- Knowledge Solutions - Feed Decision System website and reflect ingredient prices as of 3-18-2022.

** Prices for grains and by-products reflect those sourced for either the Midwest or Southeast. Prices include freight but do not include margins commodity brokers or feed mills may add. Hay prices reflect regional USDA forage price reports. Corn silage price was determined based on Dec future prices.