A continuous feed supply for livestock is a dominant desire of all livestock producers. Producers can make this possible if they put in place systems and mechanisms to ensure continuous feed supply. One of the very important ways to achieve this is through feed planning and budgeting for livestock. In the process the producer guarantees that the animals are well fed and hence meet set production targets.
Feed planning and budgeting is the practice of planning the livestock feed supply to meet the nutritional requirements of the herd and production targets of the farm. In the process you as the producer will be able to:
Producers rely on pasture and fodder as a cheap source of feed for their ruminant animals where it constitutes 60 – 100% of feed intake. As fodder and pasture comprise 60 – 80% of the total production cost, farm profits depend on how well they are managed.
When planning for feed, take into account the farm plan, grazing plans and feed budget. Farm plans are long term plans that set production targets for homegrown feed and farm produce. Feed budgets are medium term plans that inspect management options that can overcome feed imbalances and make the best use of pastures and fodder, supplements and conserved feeds. Grazing plans are short term plans that maximize production and utilization of pastures and fodder through various grazing strategies. Integrate all these plans in a manner that maximize profit for the farm.
You will need to have an accurate knowledge of the seasonal pasture and fodder growth in the farm, the ability to estimate the pasture forage mass in the field, and knowledge of the grazing habits of dairy cows to be able to accomplish these.
As a first step, calculate the daily feed requirements of all the animals. Having estimated the total amount of pastures and fodder in the farm determine the length of time that the pastures and fodder can sustain the animals in the year. Finally draw a feed budget that takes into account any needed supplementation.
Differences in productivity and income between farms arise from differences in continuity of feed supply and level of feeding. Feed planning and budgeting foresees periods of surplus and deficit hence preparing the producer to maximize feed utilization and minimize wastage during surplus, and mitigate low feed intake during periods of deficit.
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