A No. 2 pencil is a beef producer’s finest feed shopping for device

One of the vital essential instruments for livestock producers is a pointy No. 2 pencil.

The pencil and a few fundamental arithmetic will help take the emotion out of determined measures to seek out feed. If you do the mathematics, shopping for grain or different different feeds could also be the most effective bang for the buck, says College of Missouri Extension agricultural enterprise specialist Wesley Tucker.

“Many individuals suppose their solely choices are to pay no matter they have to to purchase hay or promote their cows,” says Tucker. Not so, he says.

Producers even have a number of choices: 1) Purchase high-priced hay; 2) Restrict feeding of hay available and make up the distinction in grain; 3) Purchase straw and complement with grain; 4) Purchase corn silage/baleage from row crop neighbors.

Some producers could not have entry to each choice, or it could not work for them, says Tucker. Producers should determine for themselves what works with the time, manpower, tools and different assets they’ve.

Tucker and MU Extension beef diet specialist Eric Bailey say producers would possibly get monetary savings by shopping for grain and investing extra elbow grease to climate drought-related shortages.

First, ask what you’re getting in your cash by calculating the associated fee per pound of whole digestible vitamins (TDN). Measuring TDN is akin to studying the energy on the again of a sweet wrapper. It represents power within the feed. Examine every different on value for a pound of TDN to establish under- and over-valued feeds, says Bailey.

If you put pencil to paper, you would possibly discover variations in value per pound of TDN amongst forage sources or that grain is likely to be cheaper per pound of TDN. Take note, too, the bonus of grain having much less waste in comparison with forages. This lets you feed what hay you may have and fill the hole with grain.

Contemplate lowering hay consumption to 10-15 kilos per cow day by day, and make up the distinction with grain, relying on being pregnant and lactation standing. Cows nursing younger calves want essentially the most feed.

Don’t be fooled by dollar-per-bale costs, says Tucker. Not all bales are created equal. When pricing, all the time take into account measurement and weight. “A 4-by-5 bale of hay could solely weigh 750-800 kilos whereas a 5-by-6 bale weighs significantly extra. When attainable, value hay by the ton as a substitute of per bale, as a result of it’s not all the time apples-to-apples,” says Tucker.

If you’re fortunate sufficient to have hay or can discover hay to purchase inside your funds, save by not losing it. See the MU Extension information launch “Don’t waste precious hay during drought” for methods to take advantage of it.

Plan to roll up your shirtsleeves to economize, says Tucker. Put money into infrastructure and put together to place in additional time. Feeding grain is extra labor-intensive and requires some infrastructure, however the financial savings will possible repay.

This is likely to be an excellent time to put money into a bulk bin to keep away from carrying particular person sacks to the trough. Additionally, purchase a cake feeder as a substitute of carrying particular person buckets. “These investments make an operation extra environment friendly – and save your again,” says Bailey.