This is a mathematical model to improve the understanding of feed crop production and utilisation processes impacting of feed crop costs. The Grange Feed Costing Model (GFCM), developed in Excel, allows quantification and thereby understanding of the key relationships and variables influencing feed crop costs. The advantage of this improved understanding is that it provides researchers, extension and farmers with increased opportunities to manipulate these systems in order to achieve reduced feed costs or increased animal output otherwise be dispersed or inaccessible. The use of a simulation approach ensures, that the range of criteria, under which alternative crop production or utilisation scenarios can be tested, is broad and flexible. The user of the model has a high degree of control to specify particular objectives to test and to examine crop alternatives together or independently of one another.

GFCM is a static agro-economic predictive simulation model. The model has been developed on a spreadsheet platform in Excel. Determiministic crop yields, based on specified biological and management factors, are calculated rather than simulating growth rates. The economics are based on annual input costs at prevailing prices and long term capital costs. Sixty eight feed crop productioon and utilisation options are modelled in the GFCM and are categorised as grass/legumes, cereals, brassicas and beet.  Total feed costs (TFC) are expressed as € per hectare and per unit of feed DM, NE and ME fed.

Three main factors are relevant for the success of this model:

1. The model is a useful tool to control the total feed costs of the beef cattle farm.

2. As the model is developed in Excel, its user friendliness is guaranteed 

3. The beef cattle farmer needs to know the volumes and prices of the technical inputs to produce feed crops

What are the potential benefits? The model can be useful for farmers in other countries as well. It may provide an interesting tool to analyse the balance between home grown feed and the purchase of feed on the market , which is a crucial decision for many beef cattle farmers.

Source: Journal of Agricultural Science (2011) page 1-17 and TEAGASC Technology Updates - January 2016

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Author: Paul Crosson - TEAGASC