Author Topic: How to make own feed for cows and sheep  (Read 10508 times)

Offline arifainchtein

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How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« on: December 02, 2010, 09:01:06 PM »
Does anybody has any suggestions as to making feed. Currently I am just feeding  oats to the animals and I am aware that I am missing protein so I was thinking about soy.  I have read some people opinions about soy, so how can i increase the protein level in the feed?
If I do use Soy, should I cook itfirst or just mill it into flour?

I was thinking about 1/3 oats. 1/3 barley and 1/3 soy.  I live in Northern Victoria (90km north of Melbourne) and my aim is to source the inputs as close as possible and ideally directly form other farmers directly.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 09:40:48 PM »
I formulate my own targeting 12-14% protein using whole grains, no soy. I created an excel spreadsheet and solve least cost using linear programming.

Your options for protein are

- bran
- soy
- cottonseed
- misc available stuff at the feed store, like feathers

Cooking soy makes another 5-10% protein available. Milling does increase bioavailability, but not drastically.

that ratio of oats, barley, and soy will give you a protein content of about 20%, assuming good quality feed.

Not sure what kind of suggestions you want. What is your feed philosophy? Are you a protein minimalist and start with good hay? Or do you feed cheap hay and try to do a TMR? Are you concerned with proper nutrition or cheapest cost? There's quite a lot to nutrition science, and nutritional needs differ among animals.
Taking an extended leave (until 2015) from the forums to build out my farm and dairy. Please e-mail or PM if you need anything.

Offline arifainchtein

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2010, 02:38:44 AM »
Ideally I would like to either grow the feed myself or find farmers to buy it directly.  I am not sure how good my pasture is so for a while i think i need to supplement until i learn to manage the pastures.  What do you recommend?  Could i see your spreadsheet?

Offline FarmerJD

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2010, 07:45:35 AM »
I shoot for 16% protein in my feed. I combine hay, corn and enough cottonseed meal to get the protein up to this percentage. I then give free choice hay on top of this. You can substitute oats for the corn without much change in the numbers. You just need to know the protein percentages of the feeds you are mixing. I would check with local farmers and see what is available close by. BTW, here is a thread where I posted a video of my family making feed; not informative but fun. :)

Offline tnsven

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2010, 07:51:01 AM »
Morrison's Feeds & Feeding is an old, out of print reference I find helpful when formulating feeds. You can find them used on eBay and other places.

I have a mix for my dairy cows that includes a lot of alfalfa (about 17% protein), corn, oats, wheat middlings (a decent protein source), sunflower seeds, a bit of soybean meal. I would like to eliminate the soy & corn as I know it is likely GMO. Need to work on that. The mix is 15-16% protein.

If your animals are not producing milk, they will not need such high levels of protein. The book I referenced above covers everything but goats.

So LinuxBoy, care to share your spreadsheet?


Offline Tiarella

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 08:58:10 PM »
I try to avoid soy in feeds.  I can't recite why off the top of my head but it was more than the fact that most soy and corn is contaminated with Genetically modified material.  The places that make soy-free feeds usually substitute Austrian Field Peas for soy.  Other options are  Siberian Pea Shrub and Honey Locust pods.  I recently scored 15 Ashworth Honey Locust saplings to put in corners of my pasture. (protected of course) as shade trees.  They are nitrogen fixing trees so they'll nourish my pasture as well as shade and feed my goats and sheep.  The Ashworth variety was bred for high protein livestock fodder before chemical fertilizers came on the scene and changed grain production.  They should be good for honey bees also.  There is also the option of feeding your stock sprouted grains and it's even better if you add sea minerals to the soaking water.  I use "SeaCrop" by EcoAdvantage although I haven't staerted sprouting for my grain needs.  I hope to do that soon.  a farmer friend whose family sprouts grain for all their work horses, cattle, etc described his method to me.  Bucket with holes drilled into it holds the grain.  It is put into a larger bucket that has the water and SeaCrop in it.  Draining is easy.  Countryside Organics is an organic feed company in the US.  You could look at all their ingredient lists if you want more ideas.  I too am working towards not needing to buy and feed grain.  Milk from grain fed animals has more mold in it and is not as healthy. Good luck!

Offline TraditionalGoats

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 11:20:21 AM »
Hi,  I have a custom mix done at the mill.  My main mix will feed the goats, chickens, cows, etc.  I have another one for my sheep and for flushing at the start of breeding season.  I simply asked them to build a mix for me based on what I had.

I do not use any soy in the feeds, never.  I do not use any GMO's either.  I am lucky in that I can purchase non GMO corn from a local farmer.  To that I have oats and linseed meal added.

All minerals are fed free choice.  I have 7 different types out at all times that they can help themselves to as needed.  You will notice during the season that the mineral needs change quite a bit too.

My main mix is a 17% protein.  The flushing mix is 13%.  Non lactating animals are on pasture/hay.  Basically the only ones getting grains are the diary animals--goats, sheep, and cows. 

I feed free choice dairy quality alfalfa hay to all lactating animals and a really good grass/alfalfa mix to everything else.

You can try to do up your own mix by using pearsons square which will help to balance the mix to get the right protein % as well.  It is a bit confusing at first but can be hashed out.

I would find a mill that does custom mixes and talk with them or an animal nutritionist. 

Make sure to have enough copper and selenium as well.  I have to do copper bolus now on my goats and cows, and I give selenium shots twice a year as well as having it available in mineral form.


Offline elkato

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Re: How to make own feed for cows and sheep
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2014, 08:44:23 AM »
The best thing to do is to find in your area a service that many mills, or even some universities do, where they analyse your pasture and find out what is missing for a decent diet.
 Cows and sheep have  different nutrient needs so it will be a little different for each.  Together you come up with a list of ingredients that are readily available in your particular area at a good price at each season, this include some cheap byproducts like beer processing or many others that you might by luck be close to the source.
 This list of ingredients will be different for most areas.
 Growing your own feed will be not be cost efficient most of the time, because small scale grain production where the harvesting has to be done by hand because a combine won't work in such a small quantity will be more expensive than buying from a larger operation, that have economy of scale, but probably you could grow at least one of the ingredients. I have 13 cows and 60 milk sheep and I produce almost entirely on grass, (a mix of perennial ryegrass, orchard, white clover, in irrigated pastures and I supplement with corn that I also grow, I am on a low input system that produces less milk but at a very low cost.
At the end of the day you should find a diet that allows you to produce each gallon of quality milk at the lowest cost possible (unless your operation is a hobby farm)
In a cheese making business the most important number for the bottom line by far is the price of the milk (bought or in-house)
best regards