Some strategies to help you minimize expenditure on feeds
Dear Daktari, I am an avid reader of your articles, and retired teacher, and now a dairy farmer. I have six dairy crosses and three calves on my farm. I have planted some pastures, but they are never enough and supplement this by buying from sellers. I also buy commercial concentrates especially for the milking herd and the calves. Initially, I was spending a lot on veterinary costs. Thanks, so much for the article you did on biosecurity measures which have really helped me reduce diseases and costs. But as my herd grows I am realising a lot of costs are going towards feeds. The market prices have also shot up. What strategies can I employ to bring this down? Asante
Nyogesa Wamalwa, Bungoma County
Thanks so much, Nyogesa for this wonderful feedback. I am especially happy that you did implement biosecurity measures on your farm and you have reaped the benefits by reducing the cost of treatment.
Yes, costs emanating from veterinary services and feeds greatly eat into livestock farming profits.
Of these two feeds is the largest expense as it is the “fuel” that goes into milk production, growth, and maintenance of other physiological processes.
Feeds costs can sometimes go to a high of 70% of the total income from a livestock enterprise.
What does this mean? It means that if you take care of your feed expenses you can easily increase the profitability of your farming business.
There are strategies that farmers can use to minimize feed costs on the farm and increase their profit margins.
But this must be taken with a caveat from the beginning. – Don’t compromise feeding.
Keep Good Feeding Records
Every problem or challenge must be measured if it is to be solved. You need very good records about feeds and feeding that should be scaled down to individual animal feed intake.
Feed intake is determined by a number of factors that include livestock genetics, level, and stage of production.
Good records will help you to establish the feed intake required for optimal production.
Improve your pasture productivity?
Whenever I am called upon to draw a livestock farming plan my first question is normally – Do you have enough pasture? The mistake most farmers make is not paying much attention to their pastures' maximum forage production.
It is not uncommon to see pastures choked with weeds. This lowers their productivity and optimal use.
Livestock production has the advantage of readily available manure which can greatly benefit the pastures.
Seasonality is a big issue with feeds; invest in a borehole and do irrigation and you will have enough pasture all year round.
Work on waste reduction
Currently, there is a concern on how humanity is losing or wasting food when people are starving. The same can be said for farmers. visit most farmers and you are greeted by sacks of feed that have been rendered unusable by the animals.
Some of the reasons for the waste or loss are poor handling of feeds that greatly lowers their value or palatability.
The design of the feeding troughs can be improved to avoid animals from stepping inside and contaminating feeds. A good storage facility can prevent molding by raising it from the ground.
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