Fiber Factor

IABF – Pelleted Feed Pays Off

In today's many livestock producers of all types are struggling to make ends meet.  Operational costs are high relative to what livestock is bringing on the market.  The main question for many operations is, “how can we improve our operations to weather the tough times?”  The natural tendency is to see if they can cut the cost of their feed.  After all, feed represents a large and “easy to see” expense.  However, is this the first or best place to be looking to improve the bottom line of an operation?  There is strong evidence to suggest that “cheap” feeds are not really the least expensive way to go and that there are a number of other cost factors that need to be looked at as part of making a total cost decision.  There are consequences that need to be carefully evaluated if you use the least expensive feed available:

•        Cost of poor herd health  
•        Cost of imbalanced ration  
•        Cost of animal mortality  
•        True costs of current feed ration (shrink, grinding, waste, rot etc.)  
•        Total cost of feed handling and feeding labor  
•        Cost of machinery, fuel and machine time  
•        Cost of pre-purchasing and storing forage feeds  
•        Cost of indoor storage or loss of feed with outside storage  
•        Cost of infrastructure (bunk space etc.)  
•        Cost of feed sorting

Another aspect of livestock feeding and dairy operations is, where do you get the most “bang for your buck?”  There is mounting evidence that highly processed feeds including pelleted feeds and pelleted crop residue, are more beneficial for livestock than the same feeds and forages in an unpelleted form.  It has generally been assumed that processed and pelleted feed was automatically more expensive, even if it was more convenient.  A total accounting shows that this is not necessarily a safe assumption. 

Why are processed and pelleted feed better choices for feeding livestock?  It has been documented that feed processing techniques such as fine grinding and pelleting alter the molecular structure of nutrients in feed ingredients making the feed easier for a ruminant to digest.  We call our unique processing methodology Fiber Fracturing™.  This breakthrough process has significant effects on nutrient utilization by the animals, which can result in improved production performance.

In the Journal of Animal Science it was reported that, “Feed required per hundred pounds of gain on lambs was lower for all rations fed in pelleted form”.  In a book entitled, Animal Production Based on Crop Residues by Meng Qingxiang, he concluded that, “The net benefit of feeding pelleted crop residues is increased energy intake and animal performance.”  This performance improvement is most likely the result of the fact that the animals gain more because they want to and do eat more feed.  Another clear implication of the research in the book is that processed forage should be treated as feed, not just as filler.  The end result is that cattle and sheep producers can experience long term significant benefit to the bottom line of their operation from feeding a complete pelleted ration alone or as part of a well balanced ration with other types of feeds.  Similar benefits from pelleted feed were reported in 2008 by Yegani in Poultry Research studies.

There are a number of Critical Issues and Factors in a Successful Livestock Operation.  In addition to the readily apparent total accounting and nutrient efficiency factors mentioned above, here are other less obvious critical issues that need to be addressed:

•        What is the importance of feed quality?  
•        How important is palatability to gain/performance?  
•        What is the overall impact of feed sorting?  
•        To what degree does consistency of feed matter?  
•        How important is overall herd health to weight gain?

The answers to these questions can help make the decision as to what types of feed are most beneficial to your herd and what is the best way to go with your operation.  Existing evidence regarding the above issues points to the following findings:

•        High quality processed animal feed leads to more gain/production  
•        A good ration should, by definition, be palatable  
•        Ruminants have a need and a desire for forage as part of their diet  
•        For every animal in your herd that you treat for sickness, there are two others that are affected but left untreated
•        Feed sorting leads to nutritional deficiencies  
•        Consistency of feed affects the efficiency of the rumen in converting feed into gain  
•        A good quality feed ration must start with good quality ingredients
•        You can’t have moldy hay or rotting corn stover as part of your ration and still have good feed quality

Pelleted feeds also benefit the medium and small producer in ways that are important to quality of life.  Many medium sized producers and virtually all small producers are working another job.  The work and expenses associated with the cattle operation often come at the expense of something else the family values.  Pelleted feeds can make the process of operating a small or medium production facility much less time, labor and machinery intensive.  This also means that getting someone to oversee and feed your livestock for the big family reunion weekend is much easier and the lucky person doing the feeding is much less worried that he/she will make a costly feeding mistake.  The resulting peace of mind is valuable and may be the factor that makes it possible for a producer to stay in the livestock business.

IABF sells Fiber Factor® pelleted feeds and forages at both the wholesale and retail levels. IABF sells to other feed providers as well as to producers because we make a unique product that other feed providers can benefit from.  Also, IABF feels strongly that it may help keep more producers in business for the long term, which is good for all concerned.  IABF can make virtually any combination feed/forage pellet and do so at a competitive true cost.  Custom rations can be provided to any customer with a reasonable size contract.