Less Can Be More With The Right Supplement | Kent Feeds - Blue Seal
Less Can Be More With The Right Supplement

Less Can Be More With The Right Supplement

As the season changes, producers are making plans for winter-feeding. Unless the plan is to dry lot with a total mixed ration (TMR), the cows will need additional protein to get the most out of the crop residue, stored or stockpiled forages being fed. The question is which type of protein supplement will give cattlemen the most bang for their buck.

More often than not, the cost per ton is the deciding factor when choosing a supplement program. However, it provides a more complete picture to add in all of the other on-farm costs along with the cost per ton of supplement. These costs include labor to handle the supplement and mileage to and from the pasture. Derek Bailey, Montana State University, looked at two supplement strategies, range cubes and low-moisture blocks, to determine cost effectiveness. 160 cows were divided into two treatments, 20% range cube fed three times per week and a 30% low-moisture block offered free-choice, on pasture October through December.

The study results showed cattle supplemented with the low-moisture block ate less while performing the same as cattle supplemented with range cubes. The low-moisture block cattle consumed an average of 0.70 pound (with 0.46 pound of free-choice salt) whereas the range cube cattle consumed an average of 1.69 pound (with 0.13 pound free-choice salt). The exact driver behind the performance results was not determined in this study, but it does leave producers with a lot to think about.

Another interesting observation in this study is pasture utilization. The low-moisture block cattle were tracked utilizing pastures at higher elevations than cattle fed range cubes.

From this research, we can pull out three criteria for determining the economics of supplementation.

  1. Supplement Cost – The total supplement includes cost per ton of supplement, cost per ton for delivery to farm/ranch and storage cost per ton. When determining the total supplement cost, also consider how many pounds per head per day are fed during the supplementation period.
  2. Labor Cost – How many hours does it take to put out the supplement for each feeding, and how many times per week do you do this? What is your or employee’s time worth when other tasks could be completed?
  3. Equipment Cost – How much does it cost you in fuel and wear and tear to drive your truck/tractor to the pasture round trip to feed the cattle?

The bottom line is that there is more to a supplement program than just the cost of the supplement. Too often, producers don’t include their time and equipment use into the total cost.

For more information on determining the total cost of a supplement program, contact your local Kent representative, or call our service team at (866) 647-1212. To learn more about which Kent protein supplement works best for your operation, visit your local Kent dealer or visit our website at kentfeeds.com.

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