Feed budgeting

Feed budgeting

Feed budgeting (feed planning)

Understanding the interaction between feed supply and animal requirements at different times of the year is critical in improving animal productivity and farm profitability. 

The aim of feed planning is to relate the feed resource on farm to the animal needs during the year. It will identify feed shortages in advance which mean options such as applying nitrogen, reducing stock numbers, cropping or purchasing supplements can be taken. Some of these changes may occur over more than one season. Feed planning will also identify feed surpluses in good seasons.

  • Good feed planning means better use of the available pastures and greater deer productivity.

The following information needs to be calculated when performing a feed budget:

  • Average winter length
    Days where pasture growth drops below stock demand. Eg.North Auckland 80 days, Waikato 100 days...South Otago 120+ days 
  • Average winter growth rates
    18kg DM/Ha in the North to 5 in the South
  • Effective grazing area
  • Winter stocking rates
    Classes and numbers (including other stock) plus any winter sales policy 
  • Supplements available (and an estimate of feed quality)
    Hay, silage etc and including crops grown or possible grazing off 
  • Opening pasture cover
    This can only be an estimate as assessment may take place at a date widely different from the suggested May 1 start date. The best estimate can be gained from supporting information, such as previous winter growth rates for weaners and slaughter detail of yearlings killed.  Adapt the figures below to suit your own area:
    • 2000kg DM/Ha for high performance properties
    • 1700kg DM/Ha for moderate performance properties
    • 1300kg DM/Ha for poorer performance properties 
  • Nitrogen or N based fertiliser
    The time of application and expected growth rates. Nitrogen will not grow grass if applied at the wrong time, when temperature or moisture is limiting. 
  • Pasture and Feed utilisation
    Varies from 85% on intensive operations to 65% on extensive situations  

Other considerations 

  • Planning the winter feed
  • Managing spring feed surplus
  • Fawning and lactation
  • Weaning decision