Feed Budgeting

Managing a cows diet during dry times can be tricky.

How do you make sure that you have enough of what she requires when you have limited feed available for your use?

Now more than ever it is important to be undertaking a feed budget, reading your feed test results and working out the best way to manage your herds feed requirements without compromising on next years feed. Not sure where to start? The first step is to have a good handle on your situation by doing a thorough feed budget. Feed costs, both home grown and purchased, on average represent around 50 per cent of a dairy farms cost of production. Investing some time in your feed management is a good investment for your future profit.

If you don’t already have in place a feed budget, now is a good time to start.

Rather than starting from scratch and making your own, use the Dairy Australia Feed budgeting tool. Most of the heavy lifting has been done for you and all you need to do is fill in the yellow squares on the excel spreadsheet to reflect your farms situation. As the old saying goes “rubbish in - rubbish out”. Which means the more accurate your assumptions are about your current situation the more confident you can be about a forecast deficit or surplus in your feed budget.

Where to start is establishing the accurate feed demand. For this you need to get an accurate head count of all the stock that need feeding over the given period. Once you have an accurate head count you need to make some predictions about how many kilos of dry matter to allow for each class of stock on the farm to achieve growth and production targets.

Once you have established the demand side of the equation you need to get an accurate handle on the feed supply available to meet that feed demand. To ensure you know your feed supply you will need an accurate count of the feed on hand (including what concentrates are in the silo), pasture cover and it is also a good investment to get feed tests done on the different feeds. While feed tests will cost you money it will help you manage where you are going to use your better-quality feed and when you might be able to get away with using your lower quality feed sources.

So, now that we’ve established the monthly demand and supply of feed for your farm for the given time period, its easy to see when you will have surplus feed and approximately when you will have a feed shortage, and the size of the shortage you will have. The power of this budget is that now you have an estimate ahead of time, of when you need more feed and how much feed you will need.

With this knowledge of requirements and feed on hand you can make informed decisions about drying cows off and which cows get which feeds, remembering to pay special attention to your young stock.

With feed tight at this time of year, it is important that you make informed decisions to make the most of your feed and get the best outcome for what is available.


To help further with your knowledge and understanding make sure you take part in the upcoming Nutrition Fundamentals courses. Register now:


North East – 29 & 30 June – Register HERE

North West – 26 & 27 June – Register HERE




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