Feed Costs Still a Large Percentage of the Cow Budget

Nov 29, 2023

By Heather Gessner

Feed costs account for most of the expenses for anyone feeding cows. Summer pasture rental rates and ownership costs continue to climb, and winter rations that rely on harvested forages face price fluctuations due to demand issues caused by drought.

Even amid profitable cattle prices, prudent producers will monitor these costs and investigate various feed options to develop a least-cost winter ration.

Steps to creating a least-cost ration.

The first step in the process is to take feed samples of all available forages and grain on hand. This knowledge provides critical information. Understanding the nutritional composition of these feeds allows producers to determine how much additional energy, protein, or essential vitamins and minerals need to be added to the cow diet.

Next, producers can compare available feed products that provide those missing nutrients.

SDSU Extension has created a Feed Nutrient Comparison Calculator to assist with this step. The calculator uses a standard energy and protein feed to make this comparison. For example, corn is commonly used to balance the energy in the diet. The calculator uses a feed analysis, the price of the feed, and delivery expenses to compare several feed options on their energy value.

Why is this important?

Comparing feed options by their energy or protein value assists producers in making feed decisions and creating a low-cost, balanced ration for their herd.

Feed is sold in various forms, including: 50-pound bags, by-the-pound, or by-the-ton. There may also be delivery differences to consider. Even bulk feeds sold by-the-ton will have a different “delivered price” once mileage is added on.

This could make a lower dollar-per-ton feed more expensive than another source after adding delivery charges to the total cost.

Feed Nutrient Comparison Calculator

Monitoring, managing, and minimizing feed costs while maintaining a balanced ration is one way to maximize profit potential in the cow herd. To get started on your operation, view the Feed Nutrient Comparison Calculator by clicking or tapping the blue button below.

Source : sdstate.edu
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