Reducing Feed Costs
Dan Buskirk is a beef specialist at Michigan State University and says high fuel prices for transportation are one reason for soaring feed costs. He recommends buying feed locally to save on shipping. Also, consider striking a deal with neighboring livestock farmers to buy feed in bulk.
Keep careful records
Record your livestock's feeding patterns. "This helps you keep track of consumption of different feed stuffs," Buskirk says. "It would be very important for the forage-based diets in terms of knowing what the animals are consuming vs. knowing what they're wasting. A lot of people tend to think that their animals are consuming everything when they don't see it being trampled into the ground."
Evaluate how you feed
Do you throw feed on the dirt, dump it in a trough, or put it in feeders? Adjusting your feeding process might have an impact on how much you spend on feed.
Buskirk says Michigan State did a study on round bale feeder designs and discovered some differences.
"We compared a cone or ring-type feeder and had about a 4% to 6% loss in hay. Whereas a trailer or cradle-type feeder had an 11% to 15% loss," Buskirk says. "There are a lot of different feeders and many manufacturers, but the design of feeders can have a pretty large effect on how much feed is ultimately wasted."
In order to save money, you may need to move livestock to pasture more frequently or reduce the herd.
Another option is to feed livestock things such as soybean residue, cornstalks, or corn stover. When supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and protein, these feedstuffs meet the nutritional needs of healthy animals.
Work with local crop farmers on devising some schemes that are beneficial for both you and your animals.
Dan Buskirk, 517/432-0400
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