We buy grain in bulk from local feed mills. It saves a lot over retail at the feed store, but the tradeoff is that we spend more time handling the grain and drive longer distances to get it. We have been going twice a year now, but I’d love to get bigger storage bins to allow us to make one trip per year. That the peas are in one town and the oats/barley are in another just complicates things.
The current mix, which changes based on availability and sometimes our whims, is 3 parts barley, 1 part field peas and 1 part black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS).
Our most recent purchase put the prices as follows:
In order to accurately calculate the cost, I weighed each portion individually to arrive at:
Peas: 2 pounds, 15 ounces (30% of total by weight)
Barley: 5 pounds, 7 ounces (56% of total by weight)
BOSS: 1 pound, 5 ounces (14% of total by weight)
This totals 9 pounds, 11 ounces per batch.
In costs per batch, we have:
The total cost per batch I mix up is $1.20, which works out to $.12 per pound. Numbers fluctuate some, but I’m going through about 3 pounds, 5 ounces (3.31#) when I milk 5 does, for a total cost per milking of $.40, or $.08 per doe.
On a standard 305-day lactation, milking once a day (as we do now), the annual grain cost per milking doe comes out to $24.40, not counting the transportation and storage costs. We hope to grow all our own sunflower seeds in the next couple of years, but for now, I can live with those grain costs.
For comparison, I looked up a couple bagged feed brands. While our grains are not organic, they are non GMO, which was a big factor for us when we decided to start mixing our own. Also, I feed these same whole grains to the chickens and occasionally the pigs, so it simplifies storage and having to think about which feed bins to dip out of for each animal.
Here’s how the bagged feeds measure up.
At our local North 40, Purina Goat Chow is $19.99 (+ tax, we won’t count that), or $.40 per pound, for a total of $.26 per milking and $80.52 per lactation.
I don’t know the local costs for organic goat feed, having never found it available locally, but New Country Organics offers organic for $29, or $.58 per pound, totaling $.38 per milking and $117.11 per lactation.
Given the number of animals we feed and the amount we save per pound, it is economical to mix our own even adding in the cost of gas and wear/tear on the pickup.