University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Daniel Mallory said producers face many conditions beyond their control, but they can control costs by using effective management tools.
Mallory spoke to northeastern Missouri agriculture lenders during an ag lenders seminar in Hannibal.
The MU Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics sponsors a statewide series of seminars in cooperation with regional MU Extension specialists.
Mallory said agriculture producers have been hard hit by rising feed, fertilizer and fuel prices following the drought of 2012. But producers can counteract these increased costs by examining herd health, nutrition, genetics and marketing.
Feed testing is the most important thing a livestock producer can do to control costs, Mallory said. He recommended testing hay samples twice-once after baling and once before feeding-and using this information to provide herds with balanced proteins. Hay probes are available at local extension offices, he said.
How forage is stored partly determines nutrient value, he said. Hay stored outside can be compromised by as much as 30 percent by weather and wildlife. Mallory said studies are being done on different types of bunk management systems to determine efficiency.
Knowing the nutrient value of the forage can help producers make sure they don't overfeed or underfeed livestock. Cost for fair-to-good mixed grass hay is $100-$145 per ton, depending upon the location. Silage is selling for $60 per ton and dry matter may be $200 per ton. Farmers can save production costs by calculating the cost and nutrient value of each type of feed.