Winter feeding season plays a big role in livestock performance. It’s also one of the most important factors in how your bottom line stacks up. As you prepare for this critical season, here are several considerations that can help you strike a balance between productivity and cost management.
Make a feed inventory
A feed inventory benchmarks your current stock of various feed ingredients. From there, feed inventory management can help you predict how long an ingredient will be available to feed so you can make adjustments accordingly. For example, you might consider reducing the rate of consumption to extend the feed ingredient or purchase more of that feed or substitute an existing feed ingredient into the ration, or a combination of these choices.1 Fall is a good time to complete this exercise, as it allows you to consider purchases when commodity prices typically are lower and gives you the flexibility to incorporate purchases into year-end tax planning.
Hay handling and storage
As you move and position your winter hay supplies, do so with an eye on minimizing waste and maximizing quality. Reducing waste is one of the best ways to hold down feed costs. Obviously, hay stored outside suffers the greatest losses — as high as 35 percent for round bales, depending on precipitation.2 This spreadsheet from the University of Wisconsin Extension Service can help you compare costs for various hay storage options.
Sampling and testing your forages is the only way to truly know the nutritive value of your hay or silage. That knowledge can help you make the best use of your feed. The University of Wisconsin’s Team Forage website offers several forage sampling and testing resources.
Reduce feed losses
Feeding hay to livestock is expensive, compared with grazing standing, stockpiled pasture grasses.3 It’s important to do all you can to minimize waste. The University of Missouri offers several recommendations to help reduce losses.
From labor and time requirements to preserving feed quality and quantity, the right equipment can help you handle winter feeding chores more efficiently. If you decide it’s time to upgrade, talk with your Case IH dealer about our full line of tough, powerful tractors and feeding equipment. Each piece is designed to help you cover a wide range of jobs across your operation. If it’s your hay harvesting equipment that needs an upgrade, consider how our full line of windrowers, mowers and conditioners, and the latest baling technology, from Case IH can help you put up better hay next year.
Winter is a critical time in the livestock production cycle. Breeding stock must maintain or increase body condition. Proper nutrition helps animals weather tough conditions. High-quality hay and forages are an important component in least-cost feeding programs. Be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
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