SImple Ways to Save
It is a new year and a great time to start saving money on your farm.
Steve Jones, associate professor and extension specialist for the Department of Animal Science at the University of Arkansas; and Eldon Cole, livestock specialist at the University of Missouri Extension, offer the following tips to help keep producers on track in the new year.
Equipment Savings Tips
1. Reduce the number of times you crank that tractor. Saving fuel can be achieved by planning out the needs of equipment use.
2. Complete regular maintenance practices on all farm machinery and vehicles at the beginning and end of each season to prevent breakdowns and extra equipment repair costs.
Livestock Savings Tips
3. Develop a herd inventory and expense/income system annually to track number of animals to feed seasonally and track expenses/income. Year-to-year comparisons can “red flag” issues quickly.
4. Supplement only what you need to achieve your production goal. This will require knowledge of an animal’s nutrient level.
5. Since nutritional needs vary a lot among livestock types, don’t group them together. Livestock should be sorted and fed according to type and production/market goal.
Crops and Forages Savings Tips
6. Let the cattle harvest as much feed as possible, such as stockpiling forages or planting cool or warm season annuals and utilize temporary electric fencing to increase forage utilization.
7. Test your soil and forages to more accurately determine what and how much of a fertilizer or supplement you need. Yes, those tests will cost a little but when used properly they can save money.
Record Keeping and Production
Management Savings Tips
8. Plan nutritional needs of your herd at least one season in advance to allow time to make management decisions.
9. Buy cooperatively with neighbor(s) in hopes of securing a volume discount whether its vaccine, pesticides, feed, fencing material, ear tags, baler twine and etc.
10. When it comes to purchasing items such as gates, fencing supplies, bale feeders, and etc., avoid buying cheap, poorly constructed items. Check around for high-quality workmanship that should serve you well for many years.
11. Do your homework when making purchases by seeking advice from several sources that rely on unbiased views. Just because you saw an item on TV, in a magazine and or at a trade show doesn’t guarantee it’s been given an unbiased replication evaluation to validate it as an economical input for you.
12. Ask yourself and perhaps your lender, do I really need this item and will it make money in the long run? Try to be objective and realistic about any major purchasing decisions.
13. Beef cattle prices are at or near record highs, but still producers are frugal when it comes time to make an input purchase. Prioritize inputs that should pay such as improved beef genetics, better crop varieties, forage preservation, power fencing and many more.
14. Weigh the pros and cons of convenience items. A successful farmer once commented, “convenience will break you if you’re not careful.”
For more on ways to save on farm inputs contact your local county agricultural extension agent.