November 5, 1998 | By: Randy Weckman

Butter prices are higher now than they have been in years. And that's due at least in part to the fact that cows just haven't been chewing their cud enough lately.

What?

"Cows need to chew their cud to help microbes in their rumen, or stomachs, create the nutrients needed to produce butterfat. Poor quality cow feed produced this past summer when growing conditions were terrible has meant that many dairy farmers are feeding more grain and less--or lesser quality--hay to their cows. The consequence is that their cows just aren't getting enough hay in their diet to chew their cud sufficiently to produce high butterfat milk," said Donna Amaral-Phillips, Extension dairy specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

That fact, plus lower supplies of milk nationally, has meant that butterfat--and butter from which it is made--is more expensive for consumers.

Amaral-Phillips is telling farmers to increase the amount of quality hay in their cows' diets to improve butterfat content. Doing so could improve butter supplies as well as profits for dairy producers.

"Dairy producers are paid for the volume of milk they produce and the butterfat in the milk. When butterfat content is lower, so is their milk check," she said.

Currently, she said, farmers are paid 27 cents per hundred pounds of milk they produce for any one-tenth of a percent over 3.5 percent butterfat.

Contact: 

Writer: Randy Weckman
(606) 257-3937

Source: Donna Amaral-Phillips
(606) 257-7542