Absolutely absurd don’t you think? Basically impossible, there has to be a catch. And yet life seems filled with these illogical or contradicting circumstances. I bet you have a few examples of your own that come to mind. I know I have plenty!
This past winter, I heard that producers could reduce their feed costs by some $50,000 per year, and I’m not talking about herds with more than 100 heads… They’re selling a dream! It’s just as incredible as a brand new $10,000 pickup truck. But lets see…. During a presentation, even I declared that I could do better: I can guarantee 100% lower feed costs! Stop caring for the cows and it won’t cost a thing! A little extreme? Yes. Ridiculous? That too! But I wasn’t exactly serious. I can hear you say “The cows will just die.”
But what results are we looking for in the medium and long terms? When talking about saving money in feed costs we usually look to the type of feed we buy. However, are we also thinking about assessing the cost of feed produced on the farm? And more particularly, what happens to net income?
When a farmer buys $80,000 worth of feed every year, how can you lower the purchasing cost by more than 50%? Increase the quantity of corn silage and not exceed 30% of concentrates? This is both appealing and utopian! Because corn silage is not only forage but it is also part of concentrates. Furthermore, rations will need to be reviewed and protein and minerals will need to be increased. Nothing lost, nothing created!
The addition of a new ingredient available on the market at a very low price may also be another option. Do we have the storage capacity or do we need to invest to save? Do we need to buy equipment? How much time do we need to spend on these new operations? How long before we get a return on our investment?
What if we managed our time better?
We often have the mindset that we should do things ourselves to save money, but also because we believe that if we want something done right, we should do it ourselves! Some producers choose to simplify their work as much as possible: they focus only on what is profitable. We even see dairy producers whose only equipment is a small tractor. Everything is purchased or given according to a production contract, which means that any time saved can be better used doing other things to increase revenues.
We want the best of everything and more specifically, we want what we paid for! However, we are faced with certain dilemmas. To stay consistent in our thoughts and actions is not always easy. I’m not saying that we can’t improve animal feed costs, but change for the sake of change needs some consideration. And we’re right back where we started: is it better to decrease expenses or increase revenues? It’s all a question of business or personal objectives, however, the question needs to be asked: Can your time be spent more efficiently so as to reap the best benefits?
As a bonus, you can buy a new pickup truck regardless of price!