“Cows don’t need feed, they need nutrients,” shared Ohio State’s Bill Weiss at the recent Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin annual meeting. “If an ingredient is too expensive, get rid of it and find that nutrient somewhere else.”
It’s important to note that Weiss wasn’t talking about purchasing or putting up cheap feeds. He was quick to make that clarification saying that the question “What’s a cheap feed?” is not a good one to be asking.
Rather, he suggested that in tight financial times, producers need to be looking for the feed ingredients that provide the most bang for their buck. “Ask this question instead — What combination of feeds has the highest income over feed cost?” Weiss asked.
In order to find those feeds in your area, it’s important to look at ingredients as a sum of the value of its nutrients. Particularly consider the ingredient’s ability to provide energy, protein, and fiber.
Take for example corn. Weiss explained that it has perennially been on the list of “bargain feeds” or those that have great nutrient values for the cost of the ingredient.
On the flip side, there are some feed ingredients that regularly fall on the side of overpriced for the nutrient value they bring. One example of that would be beet pulp.
That being said, Weiss was quick to emphasize that some ingredients provide more value than what they provide in energy, protein, or fiber. Those additional benefits can sometimes make overpriced feeds a breakeven on your farm.
You can find out more about overpriced and bargain feeds in Ohio by visiting their website. On a bimonthly basis, they provide lists of ingredients that are bargains or overpriced.