Drought and the ensuing high feed prices have put many livestock producers in a feed shortage going into winter. With high feed prices expected to continue at least until the 2013 harvest, what can producers do to get the best value for each feed dollar spent? Three simple steps to maximize return on your beef cattle feed expenditures are:
- Work with a nutritionist;
- Investigate alternative feed ingredients; and,
- Put a plan in place.
Work With A Nutritionist
The first step is to work with a nutritionist to refine your cattle feed rations. Some overfeeding may be seen as cheap insurance in a regular year but now it is extremely costly. Discuss your growth and performance expectations with a nutritionist and adjust your rations accordingly. You and your nutritionist should also brainstorm a list of possible alternative feed ingredients that could be fed.
Step two is to consider your alternatives. This includes alternative beef cattle feed ingredients but also alternative delivery, storage and suppliers should be considered. As an example, you may have kept very little inventory of purchased feed ingredients in the past but you may now want to consider how you can store ingredients if you find a good value.
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Also consider new delivery methods. If you have traditionally fed mainly home-grown forages but now find yourself short of feed, consider how you could replace some of those needs with bulk delivered byproduct feeds. The handling and storage may be more involved but it could be worth the investment to capitalize on a good value bulk feed ingredient.
Once you have a list of possible alternatives, continue to watch the market and talk to multiple suppliers. Just because an ingredient is not available this month doesn’t mean it won’t become available next month.
Put A Plan In Place
Step three is to put a written plan in place. Putting a plan in place now will help you to quickly make decisions and adjust to opportunities when they occur. A written plan should include an estimate of your feed needs, how you’ll cover those needs and an expense budget. Then re-visit your plan at least monthly to check if you are on track.
High priced beef cattle feed ingredients can be a difficult problem. But working with a nutritionist, investigating alternatives and putting a plan in place can help you get the most for your feed dollar.
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