There are many reasons why many animal producers elect not to handle nutrition in-house. They prefer to either buy complete feeds or premixed packages that they subsequently incorporate into final feeds with a couple of basic ingredients, such as corn and soy. Naturally, this appears easy enough, but what are the perils of allowing others to control what your animals eat daily, especially when we keep repeating the maxim of “animal nutrition accounts for at least 60 percent of all costs?”

Not making your own feeds means you trust someone else to do this for you. This is the same as buying genetic stock from someone else. If they do a good job, you end up with excellent breeding stock on your farm. If not, then you have to deal with subpar genetic potential, usually overfeeding expensive rations to compensate for the original mistake. Of course, nobody can suddenly become a geneticist, and the same applies to other professions, including that of a nutritionist and/or feed manufacturer. As in many things in life, the major issue here is just that: trust. You trust someone else to do something you don’t consider to be part of your job – but, in reality, it is, at least in part.

Instead of blindly trusting that your nutrition supplier keeps abreast with recent developments and has the best interests in mind regarding your farm, you should learn to check up on them at least once in a while. Some prefer to use many nutrition suppliers to ensure competition will provide them with the desired outcomes. But this is not ideal, because nutrition is a complete program that cannot be shared among different suppliers, without each party knowing what the other party does. This is a recipe for disaster, not success. Most successful animal producers who “farm” out all or part of their nutrition needs make sure they spend enough time to learn the basics so they can monitor their suppliers.

In my opinion, trust is not enough. You need to be able to know how to check that your trust is well placed.