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Is a Premix Right for Your Operation?

By: Cody Welchons, Ph.D
Nutritionist, Livestock Nutrition Center

There is a trend in the pre-feedlot cattle industry to want to control costs through sourcing raw ingredients and mixing feed on a ranch. While this can help to reduce costs, there are many labor, time, and equipment cost considerations. Many customers choose to utilize their roughage source combined with a premix to balance these factors. Below are some things to consider about switching to a premix.

What is a premix and what does it accomplish?

A premix can be anything that complements a producer’s on-farm ingredients by combining what they don’t have into a single mix. Most producer’s utilizing a mixer will have some form of forage whether it’s dry hay, haylage, or silage. From there a premix simply adds what is needed to achieve the producer’s performance goals, whether that’s energy, protein, or a vitamin/mineral/additives package. A key point to understand about premixes is that it’s a process rather than a product. A common misconception is that it is simply a protein and/or vitamin/mineral mixture.

Is a premix beneficial to my operation?

Often, labor and time are limiting aspects of cattle operations. A premix can add value to producer’s who want to control their costs by using a mixer but who don’t have the time or desire to manage the procurement of individual ingredients. As supply chain logistics continue to be an issue, getting timely deliveries of ingredients can be a concern. Sourcing a premix from LNC can help offset the uncertainty of a delivery showing up on time. Additionally, there could be added value from:
Increased mix accuracy on small inclusion, ingredients such as vitamin/mineral/additives/medications
Decreased total shrink by limiting the number of ingredients
Potentially reducing the variability of ingredients used in the final ration due to constraints on ingredient availability or value during the feeding period.

How will my costs compare?

In general, we see an increase of around $0.08/hd/day on backgrounding cattle (500-600 lb) when utilizing a premix versus procuring individual ingredients and supplement packages. This cost difference corresponds to an approximate increase of $0.03-0.04/hd/day in Feed Cost of Gain (FCOG).

How do I find out more?

Call your local LNC mill and one of our sales consultants or nutritionists can discuss our process of evaluating your feeding program and what premix could work best for your goals.