Feed cost account for approximately 40-70% of the annual cow costs involved in producing a weaned calf. Purchased and supplemental feed can be a significant portion of feed costs for the cow herd. When comparing possible feed options for purchase, compare feeds on a price per unit of total digestible nutrients, which is energy, and a price per unit of crude protein. To accurately compare feeds to each other, do so on a dry matter basis, all water being removed.

Accurately comparing and pricing feed options for the cow herdThere are other things to consider when comparing possible feeds to one another. These include cost of delivery to the operation, storage and feeding expense, as well as loss and waste. Once all of these costs and losses have been calculated, feeds can be compared to one another on a cost per unit actually consumed. This gets to the true cost and allows for the most accurate comparison of feeds to one another.

The UNL Extension Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator is an Excel® spreadsheet that allows producers to accurately compare feeds to one another.

When the inputs have been entered into the spreadsheet it will calculate and compare feeds to one another based on the following criteria.

  • Purchase Cost of Nutrient
  • Delivered Cost of Nutrient
  • Fed Cost of Nutrient
  • Consumed Cost of Nutrient
  • Amount of Feed Needed for the Herd
  • Total Cost of Feed for the Feeding Period

Producers have found the Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator tool to be an efficient way to accurately compare feeds and purchase those that are most cost effective. To learn more, please view the webinar “Using the Feed Cost-Q-Lator.”