As youth go to pick up feed for their fair animals this summer, they’re finding the price tag has increased several dollars over last year.
The increase price of corn is not just effecting livestock producers, but also the show animal industry. Those in the industry tell me the cost of show feed is up anywhere from 10 to 20 percent this year.
Some argue that many youth that show animals are not in it to make money. Heck, it can even be hard to make money showing animals when feed prices are low. This year, though, seems to be an especially good time to go back to the basics and work on efficiency.
After speaking with several contacts in the show feed industry, here are 10 tips to help cut cost and things to keep in mind when feeding your show animal this summer.
1. Hand Feeding
One of the easiest and simplest ways to cut cost is to make sure you are not wasting feed to begin with. Christa Scarbrough, District Manager with Purina says think like your feeding the animal in meals, instead of a self feeder. She says by hand feeding, “you have better control and can feed a diet that is more efficient. The feed may cost you more per bag, but by hand feeding, you’re feeding less over all. Your animal is also getting more nutrition per bite and you’re getting a better outcome on less feed.”
2. Price of Feed Isn’t the Same as the Cost of Feeding your Animal
People think that when grain prices increase and cost of feed increases, the thing to do is go to a cheaper option. Scarbrough warns, “people find out when grain is expensive, everything is expensive. Your higher end feeds have technology that make them more efficient. Cost per gain and what you get out of them is typically better.”
3. Do Not Neglect Worming
Everyone I spoke with said it does not pay to skip on animal health by not worming the animal. You’re not saving money by feeding a parasite. The investment of good health will pay in the end.
4. Don’t Feed the Back Up Animal the Good Stuff
Often a family may have a back up animal in case something goes wrong with one of the animals they intend to show. That animal may not be worth the cost of show feed. Scarbrough says the cost to feed a show animal is approximately $50-$70 (more for steers) more than a commercial animal. If you switch that animal to a commercial feed, that’s a quick savings.
5. Keep Records
Weigh your animal weekly and grab a clipboard to record the weights. This will help you monitor your animal’s progress and you can fine tune your feeding program knowing where your animal is at. This will also help calculate the rate of gain for the animal, so you can have it at the ideal weight on show day.
6. Specialize the Feeding Program for Each Animal
Feed to the individual animal. First of all, separate them when feeding if possible. This in itself can reduce waste from animals fighting over food.
Every animal has different needs. Feeding based on each animal’s physical composition and weight gives the animal what it needs to preforms its best and your not wasting money on additives or items not all the animals need.
7. Weigh your Feed
Let’s be honest, the coffee can and even the feed scoop are not exact measurements. Take the time to measure out your feed and weigh it to come up with a standard measurement. Then, you know exactly how much you’re feeding your animal and can easily avoid over or under feeding it. You could think your feeding the animals 6 pounds, when in reality your feeding it 8 pounds each feeding.
8. Don’t Duplicate Ingredients; Read the Tag
When you start adding additives to your feeding program, be careful not to duplicate ingredients. Mike Speaker of Kent Feeds says, “Be sure to compare the ingredients in your bag of feed and your additives.”
Speaker says, “A lot of feed companies sell additives. They sell fiber to make an animal bolder ribbed and sell fat in many different forms.” One thing he sees is people being redundant in buying. An exhibitor might buy one product from one company and another product from a different company. He says, “often they are feeding the same ingredient from two different company’s and they are feeding it at a rate twice as much as they should.”
9. Pelleted Feed Can Actually be Cheaper Than Ground Feed
“Often your less expensive feeds are mashed, but if you figure in waste, a pelleted diet can be cheaper because of the reduced waste,” Scarbrough says.
Brian Forest with Kalmbach Feeds says hogs, goats and sheep, “will convert a pelleted diet better than a ground feed one.”
10. Make Sure Ingredients Aren’t Counteracting Each Other
When using supplements, make sure they aren’t counteracting each other. Forest says, “Educate yourself on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you need to get more energy to get them finished with some extra fat top dresses, that’s great, but don’t at the same time be feeding them a really high protein which will burn off fat.” That’s having dollars work against each other.