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Looking For A "Good Buy" On Feeds?
Dairy Pipeline: June 2008
Extension Dairy Scientist, Dairy Nutrition
(540) 231-4770; firstname.lastname@example.org
Increases in the price of corn and soybean
meal have changed how we view feeding the
dairy herd. High prices are likely to continue
for the foreseeable future which increases
the value of sound economic decisions regarding
feeding programs for the dairy herd.
However, price is only one part of the decision.
The following factors need to be considered
before purchasing a commodity.
- How long will the product retain its value
in storage? Substantial storage losses add
to the cost of a feed. For instance. If wet
brewer grains cost $55/ton, but 20% is lost
to spoilage, the true cost is really $66/ton.
- What is the variability in dry matter and
nutrient content? Wetter feeds are worth
less/ton and their price should reflect this.
If trailer loads of commodities are being considered,
purchase them with a guaranteed
minimum protein and energy content on a
dry matter basis. Analyze all loads of commodities
delivered to the dairy, with the exception
of whole cottonseed which is difficult
to sample and analyze.
- How palatable is the feed? If it reduces intake
and consequently milk production, it
might not be worth it.
- Is the supply dependable? Wet brewers
grains is an example of a feed which has seasonal
supply fluctuations. There’s more available
during the summer beer drinking season
and less during cooler months. Long time users
of the product rarely experience supply interruptions.
However, failure to receive the
product when promised causes changes in the
ration and drops in milk production.
- How is the commodity handled? Will it flow
through gravity flow bins or does it require a
commodity shed? Can it be stored in bags?
Alternatives to corn and soybean meal involve
more than evaluating cost/ton. Perform
some fundamental price comparisons and
then consider the more practical considerations
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