Reducing feed wastage costs

Wastage during feed out increases your feed costs. While feed out systems are not the only source of feed wastage, it is the most significant and the one that farmers can manage.

The cost of feed wastage is assessed in two ways:

  1. The amount of purchased feed that is not eaten by cows
  2. Deterioration of feed quality, e.g. reduced energy and protein value, contamination with moulds/fungal toxins, moisture damage and leaching.

Poor sealing of stored silage is a classic example of feed deterioration.

Feed losses occur during:

  • Delivery and storage
  • Mixing of diets
  • Feed-out to cows.

Of these, losses during feed-out are the most significant. If large quantities of hay, silage or mixed rations are fed out, significant losses can be incurred. Consider changes to the feed out system that will reduce your feed wastage.

Include feed wastage in your feed budget

Feed wastage during delivery and storage, mixing and feed-out should be included in your budget. Dairy Australia's Feed Tools and the Dairy Australia feed budget spreadsheet take into account feed wastage when calculating the amount of feed required.

Download the Feed Budgeting Spreadsheet

Feed wastage rates vary with feed out methods

Feed wastage rates vary between different feed-out methods. Low capital cost methods usually waste much more feed than high capital cost methods, and vice versa.


Within all feed-out systems, low feed wastage can be achieved with diligent management

For an overview of the typical minimums and maximums of feed wastage by feed-out method, see Table 1 in the fact sheet provided.

Download the 'Reducing feed wastage costs' fact sheet.

Key messages

  • Wastage adds cost to home grown and purchased feeds
  • Feed losses are most significant during feed out
  • Much more feed is wasted when it is fed out on bare ground in the paddock or along a roadway then when fed out using a feed-out facility
  • Include feed wastage in your feed budget