If you are a producer who gives supplemental feed other than grass to your livestock, you know that the cost of feed can be a high one.
It’s part of business to find ways to cut costs, but you certainly don’t want to cut corners (especially on feed), since that can lead to more expenses and less income down the road. If feed is on your list of costs to cut, be sure you consider all the advantages and disadvantages before making the decision.

Obviously, the biggest advantage to cutting back on feed is that you won’t need to spend as much money on supplemental groceries. You’ll also save on fuel and delivery fees if you do not have to pick up as many pallets of grain, range cubes, etc. from the feed store, or have as much bulk feed delivered. Another advantage to cutting back on feed is that you won’t require nearly as much space to store feed products and keep them from spoiling. Cutting back on supplemental feed, or removing it from your program entirely if you have the pasture, can also lead to a different type of marketing, such as grass finished beef or grass fed beef, and can lead to increased finished product prices and value for the producer.

Disadvantages If you rely heavily on supplemental feed within your operation, the largest disadvantage to cutting back on feed costs would be that your cattle might not finish as fast, or that they might have lower hanging weights at the end of the process. While you might be saving money instantaneously by cutting back on feed, you could actually lose money in the long run by cutting corners. Another disadvantage to cutting back on feed is the potential for health problems to develop within your herd due to improper nutrition, which leads to greater expenses in vet bills and medicine, and lost profits from trying to sustain lower performing animals.

Solutions Realistically, producers do need to cut costs, but it can be done without cutting corners. The University of Georgia Extension offers an effective method for determining how much you’re spending and where; these numbers can then be used to evaluate what costs might require some rethinking.

5 step process for “Understanding and Controlling Basic Input Costs in the Cow Herd”

1.    Determine the amount of money available to spend
2.    Calculate total cow calf costs
3.    Divide cow costs into different categories such as pasture, feed, hay production, veterinary care and minerals, labor, etc.
4.    Rank these categories in order from highest to lowest
5.    Begin by focusing on the larger numbers first. Once you have completed all five steps, you can begin to make adjustments.

If you want to reduce costs on supplemental feed, “forages are the cheapest source of nutrients available for cattle producers. Therefore, maximizing the nutrients harvested from forages can tremendously reduce the need for supplements,” according the University of Georgia Extension.


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