Strategies to help you improve feed efficiency in livestock
One of the largest expenses for a farming operation is feed. Having the right feed can make the difference between breeding a heifer this month or a few months down the road. It allows your chickens to grow quickly to reach their full size. It helps your sheep produce beautiful wool instead of an unmarketable mess. But how do you balance the scale between feed expense on one end and superior productivity on the other? By improving your feed efficiency.
Minimize Nitrogen Loss
Why is it so important to minimize nitrogen loss? Nitrogen is the key ingredient in amino acids and proteins, which allow your animals to reach their full growth and production potential faster. However, it also often passes through the digestive system and is excreted on the other end, producing a loss. As an example, dairy cows will often only use about 25% of their protein intake to produce milk. Though the farmer may spread the manure across the field to retain some additional amount of that nitrogen, rainwater runoff can carry it into waterways, causing an algal bloom that eventually sterilizes the waterway.
Keep an eye on Nutritional Balance
Livestock flourish and reach their full potential faster when fed the right nutritional balance. This means they`re able to reach a productive size earlier on, reducing the overall feed cost to get them to that point. Though it can be tempting to substitute less expensive energy-focused feed ingredients for more expensive protein, the short-term gain in feed costs will actually become a larger cost as the animals take more time to mature. By providing a better-quality feed for livestock, the length of time they`re on that feed is reduced, while the delayed maturity of poorly-fed animals may be more expensive in the long run.
What do the Genetics Say?
Though there are general feed formulas for classes of livestock, they don`t always deliver the right combination for the specific population in question. Even within a specific species of livestock, there can be significant differences in nutritional needs from breed to breed. A breeder of Suffolk sheep will use a higher-protein ration because their sheep require a lot of protein to reach their mature size quickly. The slow-growing, fine-wool producing, Shetland sheep don`t need as much protein due to their small size and slow growth rate, and are often only fed small amounts of grain to prevent fatty liver disease issues.
A Glance at Form and Additives
Why are horse oats crimped? Changing the form of the feed may often make it more digestible, improving feed efficiency. There are also a wide range of feed additives that are used to improve uptake, nutrition and gut health to help improve feed efficiency. However, what works for a ruminant, chicken or pig may not cross over to other species or types of livestock. It`s important to keep up with what is working and what isn`t in your livestock type.
By improving feed efficiency through these strategies, you can improve outcomes by using the right feed for your situation. But what if you need a specialized mix for a particular issue? One option to consider is creating new rations with feed formulation or overseeing a slow change in feed with recipe management using feed software. At Adifo Software, our job is making sure you get the right solutions for your feed needs. If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to contact us today to learn about our feed software.