Keeping livestock feed fresh and uncontaminated is a constant challenge. It’s a top priority for farmers to feed their cattle the much-needed nutrients and vitamins they need, but saving money has become an essential part of the process. While feeding in a drought isn’t ideal for any farmer, having the right farm equipment to preserve your feed is the first step to reducing waste. If you’re looking for ways to overcome this challenge, without stretching your budget, here are a few farming tips to consider:
- Store feed in a cool, dry place: Place your livestock feed in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, to preserve the long-term quality. By placing feed in a dry area with proper ventilation, you will be able to keep the feed fresher for longer and it will remain safe for animal consumption. When moisture gets into your feed, it causes mould to grow which spoils the feed. This can be harmful to feed to your cattle. If you don’t preserve your food, you’re going to have to keep topping up your feeds which could lead to over-eating and money wastage.
- Grow your own forage: Many farmers have started farming their own livestock feed because it costs less than commercial feeds, and you can control the quality and the ingredients that you put into your own feed. Having access to your own feed, with the right ratio of ingredients, means that you could be producing less food but better quality food that is richer in nutrients for your cattle. This is also an opportunity to be self-sufficient and not have to rely on other sources to produce enough feed for your cattle. Economic and climate conditions will always cause the commercial feeds to spike in cost but decrease in quality, so it’s time to start making your own.
- Buy grains in bulk: One of the staples in most livestock and poultry rations is corn. This high-energy feed gives animals the energy they need, however it does not give animals the right amount of protein. To prevent last-minute shuffling for feed, you should stock up on corn in bulk, so that you always have access to grains for your cattle. Remember to keep your grains in a dry storage room as they can last up to one year if preserved properly.
- Purchase only what you need: Purchasing feed in advance can be beneficial for your budget, however, it tends to result in wasted money and feed. If you need to stock up, try not to do it more than two to three months in advance as some feeds are known to spoil faster than others. As mentioned previously, having the right ratio of ingredients means that you won’t need to be spending money on extra food. When you over-feed your livestock, you’re creating health problems for them, so make sure you have a carefully planned out feeding programme.
- Feed needs to have accurate labels: When you purchase feed for your livestock, the label should include the correct amount and specifications for your animals. For example, the amount of food you should give to cattle of a particular age and weight. If you do not have these specifications and you continue to feed your cattle the same or even a guesstimate amount, it could be detrimental to your livestock’s health. You need to have a clear understanding of what you should be feeding your animals to get the best possible outcome.
- Feed according to a programme: Farmers need to have a strategy around their feeding methods. The way you feed your cattle plays a major role in your budget and the amount of food that gets wasted. Depending on the size of your feed groups, it’s important to ensure that every animal gets the amount of food they need. For example, monitor the amount of food that dominant animals get, so shy animals aren’t pushed away or deprived of food. Another thing to consider is your feeding areas. Fresh, clean water must always be available alongside food, but separate from feeding as the food needs to be as dry as possible. Once there is manure, urine or water found in the food, it will start to contaminate your feed.
While it may be costly and challenging in the beginning, your livestock feeding schedules will quickly become easier to manage. You will learn how to maximise your costs, and the minute environmental factors start to influence your feeding, you will know how to plan ahead for these tough times. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have a balanced ratio of nutrients to keep your cattle healthy.
There are many agricultural machinery dealers in South Africa and surrounds which can direct you in purchasing the right agriculture equipment to benefit your feeding programme. With high-quality resources, you’ll be able to save money and reduce feed wastage quickly and effectively.