Put your money in the bank
by TOM WALKER
VERNON – Mike Witt, owner of Witt Precision Ag in Lavington, says the first step to cutting feed costs in winter is to cut waste. Producers need to do their best to combat silage shrink.
“Silage management and your feed-out management are the two low-hanging fruits,” he says. “You are going to lose nutrients as well as volume if you are not taking care when you store your feed.”
The second consideration is feeding waste.
“Are you using feeders or bunks; are you grouping your cows together based on their feed needs; are you watching out for overfeeding?” asks Witt. “You may be leaving wasted hay on the ground for organic matter but that’s a pretty expensive soil supplement.”
Witt gave ranchers a number of hypothetical examples to consider. He was able to compare ingredients by looking at their energy values and suggest some combinations that might save a producer money.
If a rancher had only produced lower-quality hay at 8% crude protein (CP) and 52% TDN, that would be sufficient for cows of good condition only through their second trimester of pregnancy, Witt suggests.
“For a cow in her third trimester, it would be borderline,” he says. “After calving, it would definitely be short of both protein and energy.”
Witt suggests mixing up the feed combination, blending high-quality hay with barley.
“That would give you the best price and nutrition combination to feed after calving.”
Alternatively, a hay and supplement combination could work, too.
In a second example, Witt looked at a rancher with high quality hay of 19% CP and 61% TDN. The herd’s nutritional needs are actually exceeded by feeding this hay and at a high market price of $225 a ton, the rancher could be throwing money away.
“This might be an opportunity to sell that hay, purchase some cheaper feed ingredients and put money in your pocket,” says Witt.
Witt’s suggestions included purchasing some straw to mix with the high-quality hay, limit feeding the cows so they are only getting the minimum feed requirements with little waste, or selling most of the high-quality hay, purchasing cheaper but adequate hay at say14% CP and 57% TDN. Ranchers would only need to supplement this hay with some barley after calving, which could net savings of around $100 per cow.
What about a producer who has good quality hay – say 15% CP and 57% TDN?
The combination would meet third trimester needs, but would be marginal after calving.
Witt briefly discussed some other options ranchers might consider.
A mix of cereal silage and alfalfa silage would be around $30 less, for example, while corn silage, cereal silage and straw would be $40 less. Combining corn silage, cereal silage and good quality hay could see a cost savings of over $80 per animal.
“It’s all about finding a balance between what you grow and what your cows need,” says Witt. “You may find yourself changing your forage production.”
Vol. 105 Issue 3
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
What on earth?
Opposition slams ALC bill
Sidebar: Protection & pushback
Editorial: Truth in labelling
Back Forty: So you don’t believe in climate change
Viewpoint: Don’t blame the cows for global warming
Ag council’s lobbying efforts produce results
Learning a new skill
Foundation’s nest egg for funding projects increases
Province will hold the line on piece rates
New CEO aims to kindle team spirit at co-op
FIRB decision prompts rethink of pricing scheme
Beekeepers see potential in technology transfer
AgSafe markes quarter century
Raspberries hit hard by harsh February
Blueberry growers anxious for new varieties
Biological controls for pests in demand
Sidebar: Pesticides in play
Growers urged to focus on fresh
Westgen celebrates 75 years of excellence
Top seller was no-show at Holstein sale
Spring show attracts exhibitors from Quebec
Cheesemakers unite to grow niche market
Range use permits under greater scrutiny
Sidebar: Range use plans go digital
Market Musings: Top bulls sell for top dollar at spring sales
Grapegrowers share sustainability objectives
Grape specialist honoured for dedication
Hazelnut production expands across BC
Sidebar: Pest pressures
Supporters take to AITC’s Sips & Sprouts
Research: Cultured meat fails to impress researchers
UAVs undergo testing for pesticide delivery
Sustainability goes beyond saving farmland
Father and daughter roll with the last of the steel wheels
Woodshed: Susan Henderson is warming to country life
Wannabe: Farming is more than just a job
Surplus, cull fruit finds new purpose as tasty snacks
Jude’s Kitchen: Special food for special moms