A No. 2 pencil is a beef producer’s greatest feed shopping for software

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

The pencil and a few fundamental arithmetic may also help take the emotion out of determined measures to search out feed. While you do the maths, shopping for grain or different various feeds could also be the very best 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 readily 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 might not have entry to each choice, or it could not work for them, says Tucker. Producers should resolve for themselves what works with the time, manpower, gear and different assets they’ve.

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

First, ask what you’re getting on your cash by calculating the price 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. Evaluate every various on value for a pound of TDN to determine under- and over-valued feeds, says Bailey.

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

Contemplate decreasing 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, at all times contemplate measurement and weight. “A 4-by-5 bale of hay might solely weigh 750-800 kilos whereas a 5-by-6 bale weighs significantly extra. When doable, value hay by the ton as an alternative of per bale, as a result of it’s not at all times apples-to-apples,” says Tucker.

In case you are fortunate sufficient to have hay or can discover hay to purchase inside your finances, save by not losing it. See the MU Extension information launch “Don’t waste precious hay during drought” for tactics to profit from it.

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

This may be a very good time to spend money on a bulk bin to keep away from carrying particular person sacks to the trough. Additionally, purchase a cake feeder as an alternative of carrying particular person buckets. “These investments make an operation extra environment friendly – and save your again,” says Bailey.