Natural Feeding Comparison Back »

This tool allows cattle feeders to compare the relative costs and returns to feeding cattle in a natural program (without antibiotics and/or growth promotants) compared to a conventional program. The quality of the evaluation depends on the assumptions used to estimate performance and costs between the two systems. Each operation and set of cattle is different; your inputs may be different than what is suggested here.


Entering Values

Data Needed:
In order to perform the analysis to determine costs, users will need the following data:

  • Initial body weight
  • Initial cost per cwt.
  • Any premium that needs to be paid to source qualifying (i.e. NHTC) feeders
  • Interest rate
  • Cost of Ration ($/ton DM, without any medication or growth promotant cost)
  • Yardage Cost ($/hd/day)
  • Medication Cost ($ per head). This would include any antibiotics given as injections or fed.
  • Costs and number of implants used
  • Ionophore cost ($/hd/day)

Beta-agonist costs are not specifically listed. If these tools are going to be used, the cost could be included in either the Medication Cost or Ionophore Cost category.

Estimating Performance:
Estimating the performance differences between the two systems is critically important. In order to compare the two systems, we need to estimate the following:

  • Average Daily Gain
  • Feed:Gain Conversion
  • Target Market Weight

The exact response to growth enhancing technologies can vary depending on cattle type, management, environmental conditions and other factors. Table 1 provides estimated ranges in responses to implants, Ionophores, and beta-agonists. Keep in mind these responses are additive, so feeding an ionophore to implanted cattle that are also fed a beta-agonist during the final portion of the feeding period could show an increase in live weigh up to 120 pounds with 25% improved feed efficiency.

Health & Death Losses:
The final two fields relate to any differences in health and death losses. Cattle that require treatment with antibiotics cannot be marketed in a natural program, so there needs to be some estimate of how many cattle are treated to account for performance losses and loss of expected premiums.

  • Percent removed from the program.
  • Death loss.

Viewing Results

Your Output Results will appear after clicking the Calculate button.

  • The tool calculates the initial feeder cattle cost and all associated feeding costs for the two alternatives.
  • The number of days on feed and the total amount of feed required are derived from the estimates for gain, ending weight, and feed conversion.
  • The report includes and total cost per head, total cost of gain, and the breakeven price. This value shows how large the premium for a natural program would need to be to make up any differences in performance and efficiency.

Table 1. Estimated performance response to growth enhancing technologies.

  ADG Feed:Gain Live Weight
Implants 10 to 25% 10 to 15% 50 to 100 pounds
Ionophores 0 to 5% 3 – 5%  
Beta-agonists 2 to 5% 2 – 5% 10 to 20 pounds
Derived from 2016 Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle
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