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

Probably the most essential instruments for livestock producers is a pointy No. 2 pencil.

The pencil and a few fundamental arithmetic can assist take the emotion out of determined measures to search out feed. If 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 assume their solely choices are to pay no matter they need 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 might 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, gear and different assets they’ve.

Tucker and MU Extension beef vitamin 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 in your cash by calculating the 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. Evaluate every various on worth for a pound of TDN to determine under- and over-valued feeds, says Bailey.

If you put pencil to paper, you may discover variations in worth per pound of TDN amongst forage sources or that grain may be cheaper per pound of TDN. Have in mind, too, the bonus of grain having much less waste in comparison with forages. This lets you feed what hay you’ve and fill the hole with grain.

Think about lowering hay consumption to 10-15 kilos per cow every 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 dimension 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 potential, worth 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.

If you’re fortunate sufficient to have hay or can discover hay to purchase inside your price range, 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 save cash, 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 an excellent 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.