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Square Bales Analysis

The figures listed below are based on a per acre basis and the summary totals are based on a 100 cow herd.  We relied upon University of Illinois data and research to develop realistic production cost estimates.  The estimates are produced under the assumption that you own the hay equipment and do not utilize custom operators.  The scenario we used allows for an alfalfa stand that has a life of 3 years with 3 cuttings per year.  Tillage and seeding costs are therefore based on 1 year's allocation of cost for the 3 year total cost.  You would probably leave the alfalfa stand for more than 3 years, but it's no secret that a diminishing stand over time will result in less production and thus additional cost.  Feeding square bales results in a smaller amount of waste during the storage and feeding processes.  We used the U of I estimates that square bales result in 10% wasted feed.  Furthermore, we allowed for a 20% cushion in extra feed to allow for variables such as cows' condition, weather, etc.  Typical yearly consumption coupled with these percentage factors helped us in developing the total amount of tons in square bales needed to adequately feed a 100 cow herd in a given year.

Note: Processing, storing, and feeding square bales is a very labor intensive process.  The labor bill can be very significant and add up very quickly.  It can also be very difficult to place a value on this figure.  Our scenario analysis does not include labor costs.  Be sure to factor this variable in when comparing competitive feed programs.

Production Inputs

Variable
Price Per Acre
Cash Rent
$140.00
Disk/Drill (1 year's allocation)
$6.00
Seed (1 year's allocation @ 20 lbs./Ac.)
$25.00
Fertilizer
$20.00
Pesticide
$12.00
Sprayer Application
$4.00
Input Total
$207.00

Processing Costs

Variable
Price Per Acre
Mow
$10.25 x 3 = $30.75
Rake
$7.00 x 3 = $21.00
Bale
$14.50 x 3 = $43.50
Processing Total
$95.25 (Based on 3 cuttings)

Total Production and Processing Costs Per Acre = $302.25

We figured an average of 5 tons of hay produced on 1 acre of alfalfa in a typical year.  The production and processing total listed above therefore equates to a total cost $60.45 per ton.  We based the feed supply on each cow consuming square bales for 150 days at approximately 25 pounds per day.  This figures out to 1.88 tons per cow to feed for a year.  The figures listed below are based on 2.45 tons per cow.  This cushion allows for 10% average waste as well as a 20% variance for cows' condition, weather, etc. on a yearly basis.

Feed Supply Analysis

100 cows x 1.88 tons = 188 tons

188 tons x 10% waste = 19 tons

188 tons x 20% cushion = 38 tons

Total Supply Needed = 245 tons

We showed earlier that the production and processing total cost per ton was $60.45 based on 5 tons per acre with 3 cuttings per year.  The total cost for this feed program is as follows:

245 tons x $60.45 per ton = $14,810.25

This program would cost $148.10 per cow on a yearly basis.

The feed supply for 100 cows through this program could be produced on 49 acres.

 
 

Website Administrator: Dan Byers

This page last updated April 14, 2007