Electronic spreadsheets can be used to evaluate the performance and profit potential of cattle confinement operations. This publication describes the methods for estimating cattle performance and financial aspects of cattle feeding using a spreadsheet program. The program described was written using Excel.
Gains can be estimated from past experience or by using net energy equations, which have been used for years to predict feedlot gain with a high degree of accuracy. When predicting gains with the program, the user is asked to calculate the Net energy for maintenance (NEm) and Net energy for gain (NEg) using values of the diet on a dry matter basis.
The user then inputs the expected average daily feed intake for the feeding period. Cattle feeders will often estimate feed intake from past feeding experience. If in doubt, custom feedlots can usually help cattle owners estimate feed intake. The following rules of thumb may be helpful. With light-weight cattle, dry matter intake approaches 3 percent of their weight. Most larger feedlot cattle will not average over 2 to 2.5 percent of their mean feeding weight.
Estimation of average daily gain can be checked using energy values calculated from the ration. If feed energy values or feed intakes are set too high, calculated gain will be too high, and conversely if set too low. Data are expressed on a pay-to-pay basis.
The original version of the program used the 1974 NRC equations, which were developed in the 1960s for steers and heifer calves. Over the years, additional growth potential has been bred into cattle. By providing the additional six equations published in the 1984 NRC Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, the user should be able to better match this program to the cattle being fed. Both original equations are retained for reference and for the many cattle to which they still apply.
Inputs necessary to evaluate a cattle-feeding venture involve the usual cattle and financial information, along with the cost, moisture content, and net energy values of the feedlot ration. This program is designed for the user to enter data on a trial basis, which involves making an entry and seeing what impact it has on the cost of gain or profitability.
For more of the article, please click here.
Article made possible through the contribution of Oklahoma State University