Calculate Feed Levels Now to Adjust Ration, Crop Plans

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Calculate Feed Levels Now to Adjust Ration, Crop Plans

Numbers Are Key to Management Decisions

About this time of year, many dairy and beef producers take a look at their feed stockpiles and wonder how long they will last.

Dairy and livestock specialists from DuPont Pioneer recommend that producers determine the volume of feed currently on hand. First, producers need to measure their storage structures and the remaining height of the feed column. The next step is to measure the actual density of the feed with a silage density probe, or to use a commonly accepted estimated value.

By multiplying the volume in cubic feet by the density, producers can calculate the approximate pounds dry matter (DM) of feed on hand. Dividing that result by 2,000 pounds will calculate the DM tons of feed. Producers can convert to as-fed tons by dividing DM tons by the feedstuffs’ dry matter percentage. They should also include an estimate of the percentage of dry matter lost during storage (shrink) as part of the calculation. The result is the amount of feed in storage. Armed with this information, producers can answer the following key questions:

  • Are any ration adjustments are required?
  • Is there a need for an emergency forage source to help cover gaps between old-crop corn silage and new-crop corn silage that is fully fermented and ready to be fed?
  • What are the options for forage products?
  • What feedstuffs need to be produced — and at what quality?
  • What inventory levels are needed this year?

Cropping plans can be adjusted, for example, to take one cutting of alfalfa and then plant shorter-season corn for silage.

Producers should remember to follow all safety protocols when working in front of silage faces, as shifts in the feed can happen.

For more information on estimating and managing feed levels, please contact your local Pioneer sales professional.

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3.12.2014