Protein supplements are designed to compensate for deficiencies in crude protein content of the base diet, says Aaron Stalker, Beef Specialist, University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center.
The objective of a good supplementation program should be to supply the required amount of protein rather than a specific amount of supplement. A good strategy to do that, says Stalker, is to calculate the cost of each supplement on a cost per pound of crude protein.
To calculate cost per pound of crude protein, simply divide the cost per ton of the supplement by the number of pounds of crude protein in a ton of the supplement. The result is the cost per pound of crude protein. Once you have that value on all supplement options, then you can identify the most economical supplement.
There are other factors to consider when purchasing supplements, he adds.
"With today's fuel prices, purchasing a supplement with a greater concentration of crude protein may decrease delivery cost since fewer tons would be needed to supply the same amount of protein. And different supplements cost different amounts to feed and result in different amounts of waste."
For example, he says, alfalfa hay does not cost the same amount to deliver to cattle and results in more waste than feeding cubes but may still be the more economical supplement. You can easily account for cost differences in transportation, feeding and waste in addition to purchase price of various supplements by using the "Feed Cost Calculator.”