Fertilizer Value of fed hay

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Otha

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Zero value if you overapply nutrients. So feeding needs it to be "uniform" and nutrients need to be limiting. Soil grid testing is very helpful with this.

Higher hay fertility value this year since salt fertilizer costs have gone way up. Was $28 per ton grassy hay a couple years ago.
I don't have any experience with soil grid testing but a google search explained it's often a soil test every 1-4 acres. At $10 a test (also google info) that would be $250-$1000 on a 100 acre place. I'm not sure every 4 aces would provide any usable info on this place and spending a $1,000 seems like a high price to pay for results that would likely tell me the sandy areas with more weeds are the problem areas. Am I missing something here?
 
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So if I can buy 4x5 rolls for $18 I'm way ahead just in nutrients?
That seems to be what the people are telling us. That's not a price I'll find in my part of texas though. I think junk hay is $40 a roll and "good" hay that hasn't been tested will be $75 especially if it came off an irrigated field.
 

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I think you’ve answered your own question. You know your land better than anyone. Do your hay feeding in those sandy spots and sit back and watch the benefits.
 

kenny thomas

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That seems to be what the people are telling us. That's not a price I'll find in my part of texas though. I think junk hay is $40 a roll and "good" hay that hasn't been tested will be $75 especially if it came off an irrigated field.
How is there any profit in feeding $75 a roll hay? Especially if someone is feeding several months.
 
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How is there any profit in feeding $75 a roll hay? Especially if someone is feeding several months.
I don't understand how some of my neighbors feed 4 plus rolls a year at that price either. Alot of them make their own hay and don't figure anything in but the cost of diesel, net wrap, and fertilizer. There are very few people in this area that make a full time living running cattle. Most of them that do have land and equipment that was paid for with peanuts back in the 80's when the government made it profitable. But back to hay, I think we averaged $52 a bale in ours this year with fertilizer, electricity for irrigation, custom baling, army worm spray, and some depreciation on the irrigation equipment. That's to make hay that would sell for $75 this winter. That's leaving out taxes and opportunity cost of the hay acres out. We do try to average 1.5 bales per cow per year, but the only way to do that is lower our stocking rate as compared to the neighbors and over seed some winter grain which seems to cost as much per day of grazing as feeding hay does.
 

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I don't have any experience with soil grid testing but a google search explained it's often a soil test every 1-4 acres. At $10 a test (also google info) that would be $250-$1000 on a 100 acre place. I'm not sure every 4 aces would provide any usable info on this place and spending a $1,000 seems like a high price to pay for results that would likely tell me the sandy areas with more weeds are the problem areas. Am I missing something here?
Ya. High input crop salt fertilitzer can run a couple hundred per acre, plus another hundred for lime...

But you say, I am not lay farming and that is way too expensive for cattle, so I am just going to bale feed on the poorest part of the field. Thats OK, but you will not immediately get the benifit of most of the fertility re cycling thru the cow (rather than going to the grain elevator on the way to China).

If you know how to use polywire - - you can create plant available P&K fairly quickly, but ph goes up much slower from MIG. So I would grid test before applying a lot of lime, and or renovating a paddock by growing grain.
 

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I don't have any experience with soil grid testing but a google search explained it's often a soil test every 1-4 acres. At $10 a test (also google info) that would be $250-$1000 on a 100 acre place. I'm not sure every 4 aces would provide any usable info on this place and spending a $1,000 seems like a high price to pay for results that would likely tell me the sandy areas with more weeds are the problem areas. Am I missing something here?
Ya. High input crop salt fertilitzer can run a couple hundred per acre, plus another hundred for lime...

But you say, I am not lay farming and that is way too expensive for cattle, so I am just going to bale feed on the poorest part of the field. Thats OK, but you will not immediately get the benifit of most of the fertility re cycling thru the cow (rather than going to the grain elevator on the way to China).

If you know how to use polywire - - you can create plant available P&K fairly quickly, but ph goes up much slower from MIG. So I would grid test before applying a lot of lime. and or renovating a paddock by growing grain.
 

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How is there any profit in feeding $75 a roll hay? Especially if someone is feeding several months.
Assuming a 1200 lb bale if you feed 35lbs/cow a day you're looking at $437.50
for a 200 day feeding period. If you're selling $1200 calves there's almost $800 left to work with.

So how do you make a profit? Most of us who feed for long stretches put up our own feed - so we can pay wholesale instead of retail for hay. We learn about nutritional requirements so we can feed as little of that $75/bale hay as is reasonable and fill them up on less expensive feed. Shorten and time our calving windows to utilize the grass growth to maximize calf growth (high weaning weights). Concentrate on maximizing $/calf without expending excess feed (I like $1200/calf average). We figure out that generally speaking beef cattle production is a high volume, low margin business so average herd size generally increases. Big herds that don't figure it out often don't exist very long, small ones don't grow beyond their owner's ability to subsidize the operation.

I'm fully in favour of doing whatever's practical to minimize fed hay and I think many of you have the climate to accomplish that. But there's definitely room to be profitable in environments where feeding is necessary but it requires scale and efficiency.
 

Stocker Steve

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How is there any profit in feeding $75 a roll hay? Especially if someone is feeding several months.
Maybe. I ran the numbers this summer before I started selling pairs. Higher feed prices and a longer drought caused feeding period gets really really ugly.

My operation would have negative cash flow,
unless,
I was gambling on $$$ 3 calves or a goverment bail out or big cow appreciation soon. So feeding (only) expensive hay is often a going out of business move. Most people have just not run the numbers yet.

BTOs will buy a TMR and buy a semi - - committing to mixing a lower cost ration during the day and hauling in the dark, As Rydero pointed out this takes scale.
 
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KAstocker

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I don't have any experience with soil grid testing but a google search explained it's often a soil test every 1-4 acres. At $10 a test (also google info) that would be $250-$1000 on a 100 acre place. I'm not sure every 4 aces would provide any usable info on this place and spending a $1,000 seems like a high price to pay for results that would likely tell me the sandy areas with more weeds are the problem areas. Am I missing something here?
You could combine individual grid points to have fewer overall tests.
 
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Ya. High input crop salt fertilitzer can run a couple hundred per acre, plus another hundred for lime...

But you say, I am not lay farming and that is way too expensive for cattle, so I am just going to bale feed on the poorest part of the field. Thats OK, but you will not immediately get the benifit of most of the fertility re cycling thru the cow (rather than going to the grain elevator on the way to China).

If you know how to use polywire - - you can create plant available P&K fairly quickly, but ph goes up much slower from MIG. So I would grid test before applying a lot of lime, and or renovating a paddock by growing grain.
I do use polly wire. Try to do daily moves in the spring and summer and about 2-3 days this time of year on stock piled coastal bermuda. I'll go back to daily moves when the grain is ready. Can you explain how the P&K can be made available.
 
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Assuming a 1200 lb bale if you feed 35lbs/cow a day you're looking at $437.50
for a 200 day feeding period. If you're selling $1200 calves there's almost $800 left to work with.

So how do you make a profit? Most of us who feed for long stretches put up our own feed - so we can pay wholesale instead of retail for hay. We learn about nutritional requirements so we can feed as little of that $75/bale hay as is reasonable and fill them up on less expensive feed. Shorten and time our calving windows to utilize the grass growth to maximize calf growth (high weaning weights). Concentrate on maximizing $/calf without expending excess feed (I like $1200/calf average). We figure out that generally speaking beef cattle production is a high volume, low margin business so average herd size generally increases. Big herds that don't figure it out often don't exist very long, small ones don't grow beyond their owner's ability to subsidize the operation.

I'm fully in favour of doing whatever's practical to minimize fed hay and I think many of you have the climate to accomplish that. But there's definitely room to be profitable in environments where feeding is necessary but it requires scale and efficiency.
No one around here is selling $1200 calves. The wean them on the trailer and get $700-$900 tops. I assume you are weaning calves to get that 1200. So what would the weaning program pay the cow calf program for a calf? I have trouble thinking about how to allocate cost unless I break it down into different enterprises. We are working on a shorter calving period in the spring as we grow alot of forage for about 3 months. My goal is defiantly efficiency as I would like to grow my cattle herd while keeping a full time job for the foreseeable future.
 

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I do use polly wire. Try to do daily moves in the spring and summer and about 2-3 days this time of year on stock piled coastal bermuda. I'll go back to daily moves when the grain is ready. Can you explain how the P&K can be made available.
Grazing can be an industrial process (where you buy lots of minerial raw materials) or a biological process (where you stimulate living organisms) to have more minerals available to plants.

True belivers refuse to buy any inputs, using high grazing density grazing to the trample tall shitty forage that feeds the living soil. Cheaters buy a little lime and clover seed to kickstart the process. In either case - - you use need high grazing desities at times. This is where the temporary poly wire comes in.

The jacked up living soil breaks down unavailable P&K using acid secretions and pixie dust, and that makes more minerials availalble to plants. Fancy folks growing custom cover crop mixes will alter their mix to increase the effect on a limiting forage factor. Might add sweet clover if you have hardpan, might add buckwheat if you are really short on P...
 
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Rydero

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No one around here is selling $1200 calves. The wean them on the trailer and get $700-$900 tops. I assume you are weaning calves to get that 1200. So what would the weaning program pay the cow calf program for a calf? I have trouble thinking about how to allocate cost unless I break it down into different enterprises. We are working on a shorter calving period in the spring as we grow alot of forage for about 3 months. My goal is defiantly efficiency as I would like to grow my cattle herd while keeping a full time job for the foreseeable future.
No, I'm not a fan of weaning calves, i don't find it to be a very profitable practice in most cases. I'm trailer weaning 7-8 month old calves at about 650lbs.My $1250 (cdn) calves this year were about $1000 US but it sounds like half as many hay bales get fed/cow in your area so the $ works out much the same after feed is taken out.

My point is there's room to make a profit with cattle even when you have to feed 200 days a year when hay is on the expensive side but your operation may have a different make up and focus. To survive we have to be good at efficiently feeding cattle and maximizing the $/h we bring in before we start adding value that costs $. We're constantly trying to learn how to extend the grazing season to lower feed costs. On the flip side there might even be things someone with close to year round grazing could learn about the business from people who can turn a profit while spending about a third of what comes in per year on feed if they wanted to. 😉
 
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Grazing can be an industrial process (where you buy lots of minerial raw materials) or a biological process (where you stimulate living organisms) to have more minerals available to plants.

True belivers refuse to buy any inputs, using high grazing density grazing to the trample tall shitty forage that feeds the living soil. Cheaters buy a little lime and clover seed to kickstart the process. In either case - - you use need high grazing desities at times. This is where the temporary poly wire comes in.

The jacked up living soil breaks down unavailable P&K using acid secretions and pixie dust, and that makes more minerials availalble to plants. Fancy folks growing custom cover crop mixes will alter their mix to increase the effect on a limiting forage factor. Might add sweet clover if you have hardpan, might add buckwheat if you are really short on P...
Interesting stuff. I've done a lot of reading about the true believers as you call them. I think there is a middle ground that's best for me. I have found with coastal bermuda it is very hard to put down much material. Even with very mature grass and only a days grass fenced the grass that's laid down doesn't die. It will just green back up, stand up or just put out new shoots. Hard to put the material down like a bunch grass would.

I do no till in a "cover crop" started out with just wheat. This year I've got wheat, oats, daikon radish, hairy vetch, yellow blossom clover, and austrian winter peas. Pretty expensive blend. Not sure if it will cash flow long term. I'd like to hear people's thoughts on that too.
 
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No, I'm not a fan of weaning calves, i don't find it to be a very profitable practice in most cases. I'm trailer weaning 7-8 month old calves at about 650lbs.My $1250 (cdn) calves this year were about $1000 US but it sounds like half as many hay bales get fed/cow in your area so the $ works out much the same after feed is taken out.

My point is there's room to make a profit with cattle even when you have to feed 200 days a year when hay is on the expensive side but your operation may have a different make up and focus. To survive we have to be good at efficiently feeding cattle and maximizing the $/h we bring in before we start adding value that costs $. We're constantly trying to learn how to extend the grazing season to lower feed costs. On the flip side there might even be things someone with close to year round grazing could learn about the business from people who can turn a profit while spending about a third of what comes in per year on feed if they wanted to. 😉
I think I am following you now. I've read the books about year round grazing. I see what they are talking about but I don't think it's the most profitable way to run cows on a given amount of land. What I am struggling to figure out is what is the right ration or grazed feed to fed feed?
 

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I think I am following you now. I've read the books about year round grazing. I see what they are talking about but I don't think it's the most profitable way to run cows on a given amount of land. What I am struggling to figure out is what is the right ration or grazed feed to fed feed?
Right or wrong here's how I approach it. It's normal to feed 200 days a year here. Before we started droughting we could generally feed cattle with bought hay for $2/h/d including yardage if we were being efficient. $400/cow/year feed cost, I can live with that as a benchmark for now. Anything I do to extend grazing is judged vs $2/h/d. Every time I have to buy in feed I'm looking to be into the ration for $2/h/d or less WITHOUT sacrificing performance. I love grazing covers. Add up all the costs divide by the number of days divide by the number of cows, less than $2/h/d? Tells you if it's working for you or not - Has to be reducing the number of feeding days obviously.

# of days feeding and cost vary by where you're located and so does the $/h/ calf you bring in but set goals/expectations, ambitious ones. @Silver weans bigger calves than I do, when I match him I'll set another goal. I think I could feed 60 days less/winter if things go right. My boss feeds chopped silage for less than $2/h/d most years, I want more $ for my calves. I'm not satisfied with anything, there's no excuses for my cattle not performing, nobody can do it cheaper or better. That's how to make a profit when hay's selling for $75/bale.
 

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Pretty expensive blend. Not sure if it will cash flow long term. I'd like to hear people's thoughts on that too.
Hard to make a stand alone CC profitable. It could compared to $75 a roll hay, but in that case you may be asking the wrong question.

Figur'in profitable CC is usually done this way:
1) You start with a "partial budget" of direct CC costs only. The overhead is carried by the first crop.
2) You graze the CC forage to increase the short term year one benefits
3) You also calculate the long term benefits, and then do some kind of prorating or discounting back to year one.

Dirt surfers usually skip parts 2 and 3, so they have a very hard time making it work on paper. Renting very low cost land for U$S 20 to 40 per acre, or transitioning to organic grain, are special cases where you should be able afford all the OH.
 

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I definitely respect the fact of how well both you and Silver do with your calves. But tell me where I'm figuring wrong.
1200 lb cow at 3% of body weight is 40 lb of hay per cow per day.
40lb x 200 days = 8,000 lb of hay per cow.
If rolls are 1000lb that's 16 rolls per cow.
16x$75 is $1200 per cow.
You said your calves averaged $1,000.
Where is the profit with $75 per roll hay?
 

kenny thomas

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Rydero, I'm gonna bet most producers in the southeast do not average a weaning weight much higher than 500lb on heifers and 550 on steers.
Currently 500 lb heifers are around 1.25 with many less. That's $625
550 lb steers around 150-160. At 1.60 that's $880.
That's an average of about $750 per calf.
Many many producers will not meet that average.
I wish I could grow and sell calves like Silver does but I don't know of anyone here that does.
So I try to cut costs to make up a little of the differences. I'm definitely not the most profitable but I'm way above the average in this area.
 

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