Tools for making rations
There are a number of tools and resources that can help to develop rations for any class of stock, and for what production you are after. Here, we feature the ones that do not include pasture in the diet specifically.
The Pearson Square
The Pearson square is the simplest tool for estimating a ration with the required protein content, using two supplements. You need to know what protein percentage in the diet is required (and these are available in the useful tables for sheep and beef) but if you have two supplements with known protein content this simple tool will estimate what proportion of each you need to supply.
NSW Drought Feed Calculator
The NSW Drought Feed calculator is a great phone/tablet application. You can enter up to three feeds and a mix, and then the stock class you want to feed, and the app will tell you how much and at what cost for the feeds you enter. The app has the animal requirements so you don’t need to look these up. The big brother to this one – which has more stock class options and can include pasture; is the NSW Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator. It also has a web option if you prefer.
Livestock Feed Requirement Worksheet
The Livestock Feed Requirement worksheet can be downloaded, printed and worked through at your leisure. You will need access to animal requirement and feed value tables, but it will help to estimate how much an animal can eat and what quality feed they need to ensure energy and protein requirements are met. You can use it to compare feeds.
The feedlot Calculator
If you are after a ration for finishing or feedlotting lambs, the Feedlot calculator (another NSW Department of Primary Industries tool) is excellent. Its key aim is to predict profitability for feed lotting (so includes all the costs) but it has basic and advanced versions with ration options and helpful drop-down boxes to help with the inputs.
The CSIRO program GrazFeed also does much of these things (and is often the ‘tool behind the tools) but its strength is the inclusion of pasture and in providing feedback on how stock are partitioning nutrients and is worthy of a sheet on its own.