Home-mixing - can it help feed costs?

GERMANY - The production of mixed feed using home-grown cereals always becomes a topic for livestock owners when the grain prices and compound feed costs rise. However, this unfortunately sometimes coincides with low prices for pigs.
calendar icon 17 September 2007
clock icon 6 minute read

But these aspects alone should not be the basis for considering investing in one’s own milling and mixing system, says leading equipment manufacturer Big Dutchman.

Saving costs and feeding high-quality feed on your farm should always be essential prerequisites for economic success.

Prerequisites for producing mixed feed on-farm could be:

  • if one or more main components of the feed are produced on the farm.
  • if by-products of rape oil production result in a higher performance when fed to the animals than if sold.
  • if space is available that has not been used up to now.
  • if the production of own recipes is important for the livestock owner.

The last point was especially decisive for the Zwethau farm in Germany which specialises in pig finishing. Weaners are supplied to this farm in Saxony (Eastern Germany) at around 8 kg. The are reared in Flat-Decks in groups of approximately 80 animals. Feeding is carried out by a sensor-controlled liquid feeding system.

Zwethau farm in Germany: View into the feed kitchen with the milling and mixing system as well as the feeding system for baby piglets

Zwethau farm in Germany: View into the piglet rearing house with sensor feeding system

Milling and mixing system on a farm in Ireland

A new milling and mixing system was contructed at the unit last April. This system produces three different rations for the pigs for the first three weeks.

The farm's owner says that the diets for weeks one and two is specifically adapted to the nutritional physiology of weaned piglets and consequently relatively expensive. In the third week, the recipe is slowly adapted to reduce the feed costs. In contrast to this, commercial feed is usually given to young piglets throughout the first three weeks post-weaning. The aim is an optimum start for the piglets so as to create pre-requisites for successful finishing with high daily weight gains across production. Moreover, the savings in feed costs, according to the farm owner, are between €0.5 to €1 per piglet.

The feeding equipment technology also plays an important role. In this case, the feed is mixed at each valve via the use of a sensor-controlled liquid feeding system for baby piglets. Feed transport is done via compressed air and as a result is very hygienic

Prerequisites regarding storage and processing technology

Which investments are necessary to be able to produce your own mixed feed? Technical requirements are a mill, usually a hammer mill with a capacity of 2-4 t/h, a weighed mixer of 2000 litres, as well as conveying augers, mineral containers and silos for the home-grown base products or purchased components as well as the ready mixed feed. The costs for the computer control strongly depend on the individual case. And, if a feeding computer already exists, only the additional software has to be installed.

Mill, mix and storage costs depend on the quantity, which means that with increasing utilisation of the milling and mixing system, the costs of producing farm-made mixed feed decrease. If the utilisation of the system is approx. 500 t/year, so that approx. 730 finishing places or approx. 250 sow places can be supplied with feed, this results in costs of approx. 4.32 €/t for the mill, mixer and storage. The wage costs have not been taken into consideration in this calculation.

Costs for farm-made mixtures

In the following, the costs for farm-made mixtures have been calculated as they could arise in a composition of recipes e.g. in pig finishing. These calculations were made by the Chamber of Agriculture in Hanover. Based on the prices at harvest time for home-grown cereals (Ø 100 €/t) and purchased components, the arising average storage costs of a flat storage building (19.18 €/t) as well as mix, mill and transport costs (4.32 €/t, utilisation: 500 t/year) are calculated and shown in table 1. In this case, 75 % home-grown cereals and a total of 25 per cent purchased components should be fed to the animals. The breakdown of the cost structure shows the following results:

Costs of farm-made mixture (e.g. pig finishing)*

Home-grown cereals
Price: 100,00 €/t
Share: 75%
pro-rata: 75,00 €/t

Purchased additional feedstuffs
Price: 187,69 €/t
Share: 22,5 %
pro-rata: 42,23 €/t

Minerals, vitamins etc.
Price: 525,00 €/t
Share: 2,5 %
pro-rata: 13,13 €/t

Storage costs (all feedstuffs)
Price: 19,18 €/t
Share: 100 %
pro-rata: 19,18 €/t

Milling and mixing
Preis: 4,32 €/t
Share: 100 %
pro-rata: 4,32 €/t

Total costs at 500 t annual turnover and Ø 5 months storage: 153,86 €/t
*The figures are based on the calculations made by the Chamber of Agricultural in Hanover.


Valuable home-grown cereals, supplemented by respective feed additives can be improved to become high-quality mixed feed and can thus satisfy the increasing demands for quality of the consumers. Of course, certain conditions on the farm have to exist or must be created to be able to apply an own milling and mixing system reasonably and above all economlically.

This means that milling and mixing on the farm only becomes a reasonable activity if noteworthy feed quantities are used on the farm. It is also possible for farmers to join forces and use a milling mixing system together. In this case, it can be useful to install a larger unit, e.g. with a capacity of up to 10 t/h. The prices for additional components also play an important role for profitability.

The calculated costs for ready-made mixed feed should be be compared with the prices for the finished product of the same quality. Milling and mixing on the farm tends to be more profitable in regions of low grain prices and larger transport distances to the next mixed feed supplier, thus basically in the areas of crop production rich in grain but low in livestock.

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