Buying feed on a feed value basis

Remember that feed containing unacceptable chemical residue levels will cost you too much.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL

Users of agricultural (or veterinary) chemical products must always read the label and any Permit before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any Permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the Permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this publication.

DISCLAIMER

The product trade names in this publication are supplied on the understanding that no preference between equivalent products is intended and that the inclusion of a product does not imply endorsement by NSW Department of Primary Industries over any other equivalent product from another manufacturer.

Costing the ration

Buy all feeds on a weight basis (kg DM) rather than by volume or per unit. This allows more accurate price evaluation of feeds and ration formulation to meet animal feed requirements.

Where feedstuffs have to be purchased, a decision on which one to buy should be based on the landed cost per unit of metabolisable energy (ME) or crude protein (CP), as appropriate.

The cost of 1 kg of ME or CP can be calculated with this formula:

Step 1

Cost/kg DM (cents)=Cost/tonne ($) × 10 ÷ DM%

Example

If grain sorghum (90% DM) can be landed at $150/t, then it is actually costing:

150 × 10 ÷ 90=16.7c/kg DM

Step 2

Unit cost (cents/MJ ME)=cost/kg DM ÷ MJ/kg feed

Example

Using the grain sorghum example, at 13 MJ/kg, the cost of the energy can be calculated:

Energy cost=16.7 ÷ 13=1.3c/MJ ME

Designing the ration

Beware: As the feed values in Table 6 (in the section Suitability of feedstuffs) are only averages, always have feeds analysed for metabolisable energy (ME) and crude protein (CP) content before purchase or feeding.

The first step in designing a suitable ration is to determine the animal’s requirements from Table 5 (in the section The feedlot ration). List the metabolisable energy (ME) and crude protein (CP) requirements needed. The second step is to select feeds from Table 6, noting their ME and CP contents. Thirdly, estimate the amount of each feed, dry matter (DM), to include in the ration, and calculate the quantities of ME and CP supplied.

When all components have been calculated in this way, total the ME and CP levels.

Finally, compare these values to the animal’s requirements: should either ME or CP be too high or too low relative to the animal’s requirements, adjust the quantities of individual components until the ration is more accurately balanced.

Example ration A

(Refer to Table 7 below.)

To lotfeed a 400 kg steer to gain 1.4 kg per day:

Step 1From Table 5, the steer requires a ration containing 10.8 MJ/kg and 11% CP.
Step 2Select feeds for the ration (see Table 6 and Table 7).
Step 3Calculate nutrients supplied in the ration (see Table 7).
Table 7. Balancing the ration — ration A
Fodder and additives Quantity in ration
(kg)
Metabolisable energy,
ME (MJ/kg)
Crude protein,
CP (%)
As fed As DM Of feed In ration Of feed In ration
Grain sorghum 38.9 35 13 (13×35)÷100=4.5 9 (9×35)÷100=3.1
Barley 42.0 37.8 13 (13×37.8)÷100=4.9 11 (11×37.8)÷100=4.2
Sorghum stubble 27.8 25 7 (7×25)÷100=1.8 3.6 (3.6×25)÷100=0.9
Urea 1.1 1 280 (280×1)÷100=2.8
Lime, salt
and/or premix
1.3 1.2
Total 111.1 100   11.2   11

This ration is balanced because it meets the ME and CP requirements of the 400 kg steer.

Salt is included at a level of 0.2% only, and lime at 1%.

Finally, to determine the quantity of ration to feed daily, note the daily dry matter requirements of the animal from Table 5 (e.g. 2.8% × 400 kg = 11.2 kg dry matter per day).

As the feeds included in the ration were all 90% dry matter (from Table 6), the actual weight of ration to feed daily will be

11.2×100 ÷ 90=12.4 kg

The crude protein of grain sorghum can be as low as 5%. If the actual CP value of the grain sorghum in the example were only 5%, then it would supply only 2% CP and the ration would be deficient in CP. This would have to be made up by the addition of a protein meal or by using a better-quality roughage, or both.

Example ration B

(Refer to Table 8 below.)

To lotfeed a 250 kg yearling to gain 1.3 kg per day.

The protein requirements of young cattle are greater than those of older cattle (see Table 5). A protein meal such as cottonseed meal should therefore be added to the ration. These meals have energy contents similar to those of grains and can be substituted for part of the grain portion of the ration.

Step 1From Table 5, the yearling requires a ration containing 11.5 MJ/kg and 12% CP.
Step 2Select feeds for the ration (see Table 6 and Table 8).
Step 3Calculate nutrients supplied in the ration (see Table 8).
Table 8. Balancing the ration — ration B
Fodder and additives Quantity in ration (kg) Metabolisable energy,
ME (MJ/kg)
Crude protein,
CP (%)
As fed As DM Of feed In ration Of feed In ration
Grain sorghum 81.1 73 13 (13×73)÷100=9.5 9 (9×73)÷100=6.6
Maize silage 51.7 15.5 8.5 (8.5×15.5)÷100=1.3 8 (8×15.5)÷100=1.2
Cottonseed meal 11.4 10.3 10.5 (10.5×10.3)÷100=1.0 41 (41×10)÷100=4.1
Lime, salt and/or premix 1.3 1.2
Total 145.5 100   11.8   12

This ration is balanced because it meets the ME and CP requirements of the 250 kg yearling.

Salt is included at a level of 0.2% only.

Again, to determine the quantity of ration to feed daily, note the daily dry matter requirements of the animal from Table 5 (e.g. 2.9% × 250 kg = 7.25 kg dry matter per day).

In this ration, the maize silage is only 30% dry matter, while the other components are all 90% dry matter (from Table 6). The ration dry matter is 69% (100 ÷ 145.6). The actual weight of ration to feed daily will be:

7.25×100 ÷ 69=10.5 kg

Further information or assistance with ration formulation can be obtained from your nearest beef cattle adviser.

A simple interactive feed cost calculator is available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

Manufactured feeds (pellets and meals)

Manufactured feedlot mixes are readily available. These are high-grain mixes, typically 85–90% by weight, with roughage supplied as cottonseed hulls. We suggest that you inquire about the level of roughage in the mix you will be buying. Always introduce manufactured pellets and meals carefully by providing additional roughage (hay or silage) for the first 3 weeks.

Manufactured mixes are ideal when you do not want to invest in feed processing/mixing equipment. They are also balanced feeds containing energy/protein/minerals and vitamins/rumen modifiers for growth/finishing.

Grain by-products, such as brans/pollards (often sold as a mix called ‘mill-run’) can be utilised at up to 50% of the diet.

These are often more finely ground, so take care to avoid digestive upsets (introduce carefully) and watch for respiratory problems.