Challenges or opportunities?

June 22, 2008 07:00 PM
Rick Lundquist

I met with one of my clients last week to do some feed budgeting. He has his corn booked at a reasonable price for the next couple of months.

We wanted to do some "what ifs" on feed costs and rations for the upcoming year, so we called to check current corn pricing. That was the day corn went over $8/bushel due to the Midwest flooding.

My client enjoys turning problems into opportunities. He has been very successful by doing this for many years. He makes you look at a problem and its potential solutions from different perspectives.

One thing this dairy/businessman was adamant about is that when diesel fuel is almost $5/gallon, it doesn't make economic sense to buy your feed too far away. That $8 corn gets a lot more expensive the farther you ship it. So, he's looking for local alternatives. He's growing as much of his own corn as possible.

He's considering putting in a steam flaker to maximize the available energy from his corn. If steam flaking increases the net energy of corn, then it's worth more to steam flake $8 corn than $3 corn.

In addition, he's contacting local farmers to shore up contracts on grain and forage. Even though the farmers will base their prices on the current or future market, the freight will be minimized by contracting locally.

We're also looking at supplementing the ration with locally grown grains like milo, wheat and barley, and he'll keep his eye open for distressed loads of grain or byproduct feeds.

My clients plan to utilize more kinds of forage in his crop rotation to maximize use of his land all year; from grasses to corn silage and green chop to hay. He'll plant alfalfa outside the wheel ruts of the corn center pivots to utilize as green chop.

Our rations might not look typical next year, so it will be a challenge for this nutritionist. But it will force me to look at these nutritional challenges as opportunities too.        

Rick Lunquist is an independent nutrition and management consultant based in Duluth, Minn. You can contact him at

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