When producers decide to purchase feedstuffs to balance diets, the first question often asked is, “Do I need a source of energy or protein or both to economically balance the ration?” Next is evaluating what is on-hand for feedstuffs compared to what might need to be purchased. The final question then is “What might be the most economical feedstuff if feed is to be purchased?”
Producers often classify feedstuffs into categories such as forages, grains, supplements, and minerals/vitamins. From these major categories we can decide what is needed to balance the diet. Is it protein, energy, or minerals/vitamins? In order to compare apples to apples you will need to look at the amount of each nutrient available on a dry matter basis so that an accurate cost comparison can be made for the desired nutrient. The following formulas allow you make this comparison when evaluating protein and energy in feedstuffs and their cost to the diet.
Pricing Feed Protein Sources:
Example: Evaluating Premium Alfalfa for Protein
- $122.50/ton delivered ÷ 0.85 dry matter = $144.18/ton dry matter ÷ 0.20 protein = $720.59/ton of protein dry matter
- $720.59/ton ÷ 2000 lbs. /ton = $0.36/lb. of protein
Example: Evaluating Corn Silage for Protein
- $29/ton delivered ÷ 0.35 dry matter = $82.85/ton dry matter ÷ 0.081 protein = $1022.83/ton of protein dry matter
- $1022.59/ton ÷ 2000 lbs./ton = $0.51/lb. of protein
Pricing Feed Energy Sources:
Example: Evaluating Premium Alfalfa for Energy
- $122.50/ton delivered ÷ 0.85 dry matter = $144.18/ton ÷ 0.62 Mcal = $232.54/ton of energy, dry matter basis
- $232.54/ton of dry matter ÷ 2000 lbs. /ton = $0.12/lb. per energy unit (Mcal)
Example: Evaluating Corn Silage for Energy
- $29/ton delivered ÷ 0.35 dry matter = $82.86/ton ÷ 0.72 Mcal = $115.08/ton of energy, dry matter basis
- $115.08/ton of dry matter ÷ 2000 lbs. /ton = $0.06/lb. per energy unit (Mcal)
Given the feedstuff comparisons at today’s prices, if one looks for forage to be utilized for protein in the diet alfalfa is more cost-effective; however, if you are needing energy in the diet from a forage base, you would want to look to corn silage.
Feedstuff Cost Evaluation Tool
SDSU Extension has a Feedstuff Cost Evaluation Tool available on iGrow. It is suggested to have a basic feedstuff analysis available when using the tool.