Research shows that up to 40 percent of feed is wasted in some feeding systems. Cutting back on that waste is a simple way to put more dollars in your pocket. Feed waste isn't always as apparent as it seems to be and can be just one more way to tighten up management.

Feed waste depends on the type and quality of feed, how often it's fed, the equipment used to feed, the weather and the surface of the ground where it is distributed.

Cattle tend to waste lower quality feed by rummaging through for the best parts. Here are several ways to limit waste:

* Assess how much feed is wasted. Get an idea of how much feed your cattle require and then compare that to what is provided. Watch for feed that is trampled into the mud or snow. For good quality forage, a 5 percent loss is an ideal goal. For poorer quality feed, up to 10 percent is acceptable.

* Keep cattle hungry. Feed cattle a little each day, instead of providing enough feed to last several days. Hungry cattle will do a better job cleaning up what is offered.

* If a few days' worth is fed, minimize rummaging. You can do this by setting up good barriers and racks to stop cows from sorting through feed.

* Grind and mix feeds. For course feeds, grind them in a way that encourages cattle to eat the entire ration.

* Provide a solid feeding base. Feeding on mud or snow allows cattle to trample and waste feed. Bunks, wagons, concrete or solidly frozen ground will allow cattle to clean up feed that's dumped or spilled.