With grain prices at all-time highs and hay prices not far behind, livestock producers need to find ways to become more efficient to stay profitable. Producers are also receiving less for feeder calves today than in recent years.
The University of Minnesota Extension Beef Team has released the Beef Cow Ration Balancer to help producers more closely examine the feed costs of their operation.
The free, computer-based program helps producers study the feed costs of their operation and can be downloaded from the University of Minnesota Beef Team website at www.extension.umn.edu/Beef.
The tool is pretty simple to use. After entering information about their individual operations, producers can balance a ration that will meet the requirements of their cattle, utilizing the feedstuffs available to specific operations.
The program also summarizes daily feed delivery for entire herds and will forecast how much of each feedstuff is required to feed at a specified level throughout the feeding period.
A cost analysis feature breaks down the cost of each feed ingredient on a "per unit of energy" and "per pound of protein" basis. This can be helpful as producers try to find less expensive alternatives to some of the more common feedstuffs. It allows producers to compare apples to apples when considering alternative feed ingredients.
The Beef Cow Ration Balancer is not designed to replace a professional nutritionist. It should be used as a management tool for producers to more closely monitor the nutritional needs and feed costs of their operations. When used correctly, the program can help producers determine what times of the year require the highest level of nutrition, when they can utilize lower quality, less expensive feeds, and the most efficient time to manipulate the body condition of their cows.
If you experience any technical difficulties or have questions about the program, please e-mail Extension livestock educator Mike Boersma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Boersma is a livestock educator with University of Minnesota Extension.