A supplement program is important when backgrounding weaned calves. However, Gene Schmitz, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, says finding the most economical can be a challenge for beef producers. A new comparison calculator can help.
“Just because one supplement mix is the most economical today doesn’t mean it will be the most economical in one or two months,” Schmitz says in a news release. “Perhaps some ingredients have changed price or are no longer available.”
To help sort out changes in ingredient price or availability, MU Extension specialists developed the MU Beef Supplement Comparison Calculator. The calculator, an Excel-based spreadsheet, is designed to compare cost and nutrient composition between two different beef cattle supplements.
Schmitz says it is not designed to be a ration balancing program, nor does it contain a multitude of feed ingredients.
“The comparison calculator allows producers who are using byproduct feed-based supplements to compare two supplement options based on various amounts of common grain byproduct ingredients,” he explains. “It is to be utilized after a supplement has been formulated to meet animal nutrient requirements based on nutrient analysis of the forages being utilized in a particular feeding regimen.”
How it works
The spreadsheet calculates the percentage of crude protein, total digestible nutrients, net energy maintenance, net energy gain, calcium, phosphorus and rumen degradable protein in a supplement on an as-fed basis, as well as the cost per ton of each supplement option, Schmitz explains.
The current feed ingredient list is comprised of the following feeds: dried distillers grains, corn gluten feed, soybean hulls, wheat midds, corn grain, and 44% and 48% crude protein soybean meal. Additional ingredients may be added on request.
Users of the spreadsheet simply enter the price of each feed ingredient they have available and the pounds of each ingredient in the “Base Supplement Mix” section of the worksheet.
Then in the “Optional Supplement Mix” section of the worksheet, producers can enter various amounts of each of the listed ingredient options until they match the nutrient content of the base supplement, Schmitz adds. A cost comparison of the two supplement options is calculated based on current ingredient prices.
Offer supplement options
“The primary utility of the spreadsheet is to compare energy and protein content of the two supplement options,” Schmitz says. “Calcium and phosphorus levels for each supplement are calculated, but producers will need to adjust these minerals on their own based on the mineral supplements they have available in their local market.”
As feed ingredient prices change, this spreadsheet allows supplement adjustments to be quickly evaluated without rebalancing the entire ration.