Before you start a dairy farm or expand your herd, you should determine how much feed you will need. Although many factors affect your feed needs, you can make a rough estimate by knowing the types of feed you plan to use, the number of animals that will need to be fed, their production level and types of storage available, says Faith Cullens, Michigan State University Extension educator. Here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Estimate herd feed needs. Begin with needs on a per animal, per day basis. Then, calculate needs for the herd per year for each feed. Use actual consumptions, if possible.
2. Next, estimate harvest, storage and feeding losses. These losses can account for 15 percent to 50 percent of total feed needed.
3. Finally, compile the information into a table to track the amount of feed needed per year.

To read more, including tables showing estimated yearly feed needs for dairy cattle and storage and feeding losses, click here.