Imagine receiving the call that your feed mill has shut their doors for good. On top of that, imagine that you only have enough grain on hand to feed your animals for one week. Are you anxious yet? We were.
Given just 24 hours’ notice, my family and I were sent into “crisis” mode after discovering that the feed mill serving our operation would no longer conduct business. After recovering from the initial shock of the news, the race was on to find a new supplier.
Having your feed mill close shop unexpectedly can be a real headache, but we’ve learned that there are some steps you can take to make this bumpy transition a little smoother. Here are the things we did to find a new supplier:
1. Plan a farm meeting. Switching to a new feed company in a short period of time is a stressful process. Sit down with your family and employees to discuss how this change will affect your operation. Ask for insight and make a checklist as to what you are looking for.
2. Contact your nutritionist. The first phone call you should make after learning this news should be with your nutritionist. Let them know the scenario and have them pull all of your previous feed tests and information. Most likely, a new ration will need to be formulated when you switch to a different feed mill. Feeding a consistent and homogeneous ration is critical. Team up to craft a well-balanced diet similar to the one you are currently feeding.
3. Talk to farmers in your area. Just like when you shop online or book a hotel, a personal review of a prospective feed mill can unveil hidden problems that the company has failed to mention. Contact other farmers in your area and ask them some of these questions: “Where do you get your grain? Have you had a positive or negative experience with this company? Are you satisfied with your current feed price, or has it become too high to handle?”
4. Chat with your banker. The feed bill is one of the most expensive costs on the farm, typically standing at 50% to 60% of your total operating expense,according to Enrique Schcolnik, a dairy nutrition consultant with Progressive Dairy Solutions. Therefore, it is critical to have a talk with your banker before making your final decision. Work together to compare prices and services and set up a financial plan. Don’t forget to also look at hauling costs. Sometimes the closest company isn’t always the best fit.
5. Have a discussion with your new feed mill.Once you have settled on your new feed service, collaborate to work out some of the kinks before your first delivery arrives. Do they know when and where to deliver your feed? Have you set up a payment schedule? What will happen if there is a problem with your delivery? Answering some of these questions now could save you some hassle before the feed truck rolls in.