Home-produced feedstuff ‘cheaper’ than feeding concentrates – Teagasc
The cost of home-produced feedstuff VS concentrates was the focus of part of this year’s Teagasc Beef 2022 national open day, which carried the theme of supporting sustainable beef farming.
In light of record-high input costs – fuel, fertiliser and feed – Peter Doyle, researcher, and a team at Teagasc, analysed five commonly grown feeds on beef farms in Ireland using its Grange Feed Cost Model.
It reviewed prices from March 2022 VS September 2021, which signal an increase of 22-33% in feed costs this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
However, the state agency stressed that the prices it provided on the day are subject to high levels of volatility.
One of the main messages from the day is that growing and efficiently utilising high-quality home-produced feed, rather than purchasing concentrates, which are also increasing in cost, “remains the most cost-effective option” for feeding livestock.
Speaking on the day, Peter Doyle said:
“We can see major increases in prices. Firstly, this year, we can see that round silage bales went from €24/bale to make, excluding land charges last year. This year, it has increased to €35/head.”
“This has mainly been due to the increase in fertiliser prices and contracting charges, driven by higher diesel prices.”
“Despite this, grazed grass remains our cheapest feed resource on Irish farms. But, we can further decrease the cost of grazed grass. Incorporating white clover into our swards will subsequently, reduce our requirement for nitrogen.”
“However, if we look at our indoor feeding options, we can see that first and second-cut pit silage and baled silage work out the same price per energy utilised.”
“They are both 3.4 times more expensive than grazed grass. It really develops the option that we want to increase our grazing season and maximise the proportion of grass in the diet to reduce feed costs for the year.”
“We can reduce silage costs by incorporating red clover, which will reduce our nitrogen fertiliser requirements. All these forage options do remain cheaper than purchasing concentrates for the winter, so we really want to focus on making quality silage this year.”
“The take-home message is to focus on growing and utilised high-quality home-produced feed – grazed forage – to maximise profit on your farm,” Doyle concluded.
What is cheaper?
In a booklet that it circulated to attendees, Teagasc acknowledged that while the cost of home-produced feed has increased “substantially”, the rising cost of purchased concentrate feeds is also noteworthy.
“For example, rolled barley has increased in price to €390/t fresh weight in spring 2022 and may be liable to further increases.”
“When expressed on a DM basis and taking into account feed-out costs to be comparable to the forage crops evaluated, the total feed costs of concentrate rations is estimated to be €470/t DM.”
The state agency highlighted that emphasises the importance of:
- (1) Producing sufficient quantities of home-produced feeds, especially forages;
- (2) Ensuring that the quality of the feed you are producing is suitable for the animal type you are feeding.
“If you do not achieve these two objectives, then supplementary concentrate feeding will be necessary at a higher cost than the home-produced alternative.”
“In this regard, detailed fodder budgeting (grazing season and indoor winter feeding) is even more important now,” the spokesperson concluded.
- Following grazed grass, costs of grass silage and fodder beet are “relatively similar” when expressed on a per tonne basis;
- Fodder beet has somewhat lower production costs compared to grass silage when expressed on a per-unit energy utilised basis (protein and mineral supplementation demands not included in this analysis when compared to grass crops);
- Purchased concentrates such as rolled barley remain an expensive feed resource. Teagasc claims it costs about five times the price of grazed grass (excluding land charge) on a per tonne DM basis.
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