NDSU develops protein, energy feed calculator

Nov 16, 2012
by DTN

Anyone trying to decide what feedstuffs to purchase to achieve the lowest cost rations will now have a valuable tool to assist them thanks to researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU).

The calculator was developed for anyone working with livestock rations—including producers, nutritionists and extension agents—and was designed to be a tool that will assist them in evaluating feedstuffs that are available to them, according to Chanda Engel, research specialist of animal science at the Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC) of NDSU.

The calculator is an expanded version of an energy calculator developed by Dr. Vern Anderson, research animal scientist at the NDSU CREC, Engel said. She and Anderson together developed a new Excelbased energy and protein evaluation tool that can evaluate multiple feedstuffs on their cost per pound of protein and energy as well as evaluate the value of one feed compared to other feedstuffs based on a protein and energy equivalent.

The calculator can be used for any type of livestock, as it is intended for anyone trying to buy feedstuffs.

The tool is easy to use, Engel said. Users have to know the units of whatever feedstuff they are considering buying (i.e. tons, pounds, etc.) as well as the price per unit on an as-fed basis. Users then enter the real dry matter value, protein and energy concentrations (on a dry matter basis). Users can get those values from their source; however, if those values are not known, they can enter the book values, she said.

The program will then calculate the price per pound of crude protein and price per pound of energy on a dry matter basis.

“The tool makes everything equal, so you are not comparing apples to oranges,” Engel said.

Additionally, if users have one particular feedstuff they are really interested in, they can enter that in the top (yellow) line and the tool will calculate, according to all other feeds available, how much the user can afford to pay based on the cost per pound of crude protein and energy.

“The calculator gives real values and allows you to evaluate feedstuffs in real dollars,” she said.

Tool valuable for DDG

The calculator can also be used to calculate the value of dried distillers grains (DDG), Engel said.

Users can enter DDG in the top line and compare its value to other similar protein and energy sources, such as corn, soybean meal, field peas, canola meal, etc. Users can change the feedstuffs in the list or add additional feedstuffs to meet their needs.

“You can see if the value you can buy distillers for is in the ballpark, or if you can get other feeds at a better price,” she said.

Engel added that producers should not automatically rule out DDG just because of price, especially with the record-high prices that DDG has seen in recent months. It is not always solely the price, but the cost per unit of protein that is important as well.

While some producers may have thought DDG was out of their price range, when they see the price per unit of protein, it often is a good value. Engel added that DDG is typically about 4 points higher in energy than soybean meal.

Engel urged producers to get nutrient information on the DDG they are purchasing from their source.

“You can also use book values, but if you are buying DDG from the same plant, the values may be pretty similar,” she said.

She noted that the amount of solubles ethanol plants add in to their DDG can change the nutritional value.

“We figure 28.5 crude protein for distillers, but I have also seen it come out at 30 or 25,” she said. “Producers really need to talk to their source to be more accurate and get a better picture of what it will cost them.”

Link to calculator

The Combined Feed Value and Protein and Energy Calculator is available on the NDSU website (http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/CarringtonREC/news/combined-feed-value-and-protein-and-energy-calculator). Engel said the calculator will be updated periodically for prices, but for the most accurate evaluation, users should enter their own pricing information.

Directions for using the tool can be found on the “Info” tab on the spreadsheet, but anyone with questions is welcome to call Engel at 701/652-2951. — Cheryl Anderson, DTN