You can't starve a profit out of your animals. At the same time, other than hobbyists, you won't be able to keep your livestock enterprise going if your feed is too expensive. This is true whether you are dealing with many animals or just a couple for your 4-H or FFA project. There are three basic approaches to good livestock nutrition:
- Use a complete commercial ration formulated by livestock nutritionists
- Mix your own complete ration from available feedstuffs
- Combine the first two by using commercial supplements with available feedstuffs
There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.
Will take all the guesswork out of the process but can be very expensive. These feeds are generally well-balanced, even the mineral components. There is value in using the expertise of trained livestock nutritionists. But for youth projects, what have they learned?
Will probably be the least expensive approach and is an excellent learning opportunity for youth projects. But how much of which feedstuff do you mix into the ration? What about mineral levels? Do you have the facilities or equipment needed?
Is the middle-of-the-road in all respects. Commercial feed supplements can help make up for protein, mineral, or energy deficiencies in local feedstuffs. This option still provides youth an opportunity to learn the basics of ration formulation.
Each operation needs to decide how they will approach meeting the nutritional needs of their livestock. At any rate, the math involved in ration formulation can be tedious at best. The link below will take you to an Excel spreadsheet that was developed to help with the math. It is based on the Pearson Square method of ration formulation and is geared to provide the proper level of protein and/or energy.