Steps you can take to help your bottom line

I often write about improving the bottom line through feed ad- justments and forage selection. Both are necessary when trying to improve the bottom line in an uncertain market. Now, as feed prices are rising dramatically and kids are on the ground and growing, each producer must make hard decisions to reduce costs and risks. With warmer weather just around the corner and the commodity markets expected to rise all summer, let’s discuss a few options to improve profitability this year.

First, we must address the elephant in the room. Feeding pro- grams can be as much as 60% of the yearly operating budget for goat producers. As such it should be the first place any producer reviews when costs are rising.

Many grain mixes see little to no changes year over year yet they should be reviewed at minimum once a year to make sure they still meet a farm’s needs, both nutritively and financially. In these reviews, considerations should be made as to the performance level desired and the price point that needs to be maintained.

I often tell producers if the feed man is telling you to feed less or feed something that costs less, you can take that advice to the bank! So how can the average producer cut some of the feed costs? • Cut the protein of the grain mix by 1%. Protein promotes the development of size, structure and muscle. All are immensely impor- tant when growing and developing kids for market. That said, most mixes are formulated at 16-18% protein, yet kids will still grow well down to 15% protein. Cutting the protein content of the feed by 1% will make minor changes in the growth pattern of the kids but will make an impact on the overall feed costs. Protein is the leading cost of any grain ration. When ingredients like soybean meal go up over $200 a ton in 60 days, reducing protein product inclusion by even small amounts can make a sizable difference in the costs of a formulation. • Substitute costly ingredients where possible. Depending on your location in the U.S., some traditional protein sources may be the most costly option available. If for example canola meal or lin- seed meal were to be cheaper than soybean meal, look to substitute part of the soybean meal with the less costly ingredients. Additionally, adding a little fishmeal or bloodmeal to a mix will reduce the nec- essary inclusion of products like soybean meal and may further re- duce the costs of the formulation. • Adjust the quantity of feed offered. This can be a touchy sub-

ject. When grain is needed, it absolutely needs to be offered. I am not advocating for shortchanging productive or growing stock! However, if kids, for example, are currently fed on self-feeders resulting in ex- cess grain consumption and minimal forage consumption, adjust- ments should be made. Growing kids should consume 3-4% of their body weight in dry matter a day. This means a growing kid weighing 50 lb will consume 1.5-2 lb of dry matter per head per day. Ideally, a

Look for new markets

In addition to considering feed input costs, producers may look to cultivate new markets. Diversity is king in any industry and goat production is no exception. Outside of the meat market there are many other marketing opportunities for producers. Not every pro- ducer can utilize every market, however expanding into additional markets can improve profitability and reduce the impacts of rising commodity markets. Here are a few marketing options. • Breeding stock. There is a demand nationally for breedable does for new producers and existing producers looking to expand. Marketing the top 10-15% of the doe kids born (that a producer does not personally need for replacements as breeding stock) can be a great option to increase profits. This market will require excellent record keeping of birthing and performance data. The better the stock per- forms, the greater the earning potential for the buyer and seller. • Recip market. Each year thousands of commercial does are used as recipients in embryo transfers across the nation. The reg- istered industry is in constant need of CAE, CL and Johnes negative does with great mothering ability and milk production. This can be an opportunity to market large groups of does at one time and in many cases can be a consistent business opportunity for a producer. Much like selling breeding stock, rigorous record keeping is nec- essary as well as a biosecurity screen on each animal sold. • Restaurant markets. This can be a hard market to cultivate, especially following all of the shutdowns and closures through and following Covid. Restaurants can be a very consistent market once established though. Restaurants in the last few years have been slowly transitioning to greater transparency in their supply chains and look- ing to buy more locally grown products. A restaurant market can be a very consistent revenue stream for producers in most cases. This year may present new challenges for all producers with all of the rising costs. In spite of this there is still hope. By making ad- justments in our feed and feeding practices and cultivating every available market, each producer can still make money. Take the time and consider all costs and opportunities today.

(Gregory Meiss raises Boer goats and is head nutritionist for

his family’s company, Meiss Feed and Supply, Sibley, Ill. He can be contacted at 217-379-7985, through Facebook: Meiss Boer Goats or by e-mail at

April 2021 | Goat Rancher 23


minimum of 25% of the dry matter consumed will be from forage per day. When kids are put on a self-feeder they can, at times, over- consume on grain and under consume on forage, increasing the costs per head per day. Review consumption totals and adjust where nec- essary to improve the costs per head per day.

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