The Art of Feeding: Shrink
Shrink is a fancy word that only means the difference between what was fed… and what was actually measured going into the feed center. It is a huge economical drain for most dairies. It is an interesting problem that results from the lack of precision of bringing feed into the feed center and storing it properly.
We usually just talk about the missing feed, however there is also nutrient shrink that is just as important. The ways I see shrink occurring are as follows:
- Not measuring all the incoming feed.
- Improper scale weights and procedures. Anyone lost scale tickets before?
- Not getting good dry matter percentages during harvest of wet feeds.
- Birds and varmints.
- Stealing from employees.
- Not weighing small feed ingredients on a small scale. One of my favorite ways to check is just to look for open bags where the small bagged ingredients are stored.
- Hay boil overs in the mixer while mixing.
- Spillage on the way to and at the bunk.
- Improper storage of wet feed. Do you have an inch or more spoilage that you are pitching off the bunk?
- One of my least favorites is over estimating the amount in a storage bunker.
- Not taking dry matter percentages as you feed an ingredient.
- Not taking feed back to the storage location when you hit the target for the load.
- Improper application or lack of an inoculant.
- Lack of storage capacity.
- Load cell errors on the mixer.
Reducing shrink is a constant monitoring process from the field to the mouths being feed. It is an area that can add money to the bottom-line as you improve.