Raising livestock can be immensely rewarding, and for many folks throughout Canada and around the world, it’s how to make a living. However, regardless of the kind of livestock you choose to raise, you’ve likely noticed that it can also be expensive. Different animals have different requirements and depending on how many animals you elect to raise, you’ll need specialized equipment to help make your life (and theirs!) easier.
Now, to be clear: we won’t be advising you to get the cheapest possible equipment or feed. Quality of care matters, which is why if an item will genuinely serve you well, it’s worth the investment. Making smart choices early on for your farm or ranch will help save you hundreds of dollars in the years to come without sacrificing the safety and health of you and your animals.
That’s why today, we’re going to share five strategies with you that will help you invest your money wisely.
1. Carefully maintain your equipment, and buy used where you can.
The best equipment on the market is useless unless it’s properly cared for. Sure, you’ll get a good few years of use out of it, but when rust sets in or the internal gears get clogged up with dust and hair, you’ll have completely worn through your initial investment, and you’ll likely have to shell out more for repairs.
If it’s not already on your to-do list, add equipment maintenance to your weekly or daily routine. Spending even a few minutes on your gear will help it last and work the way it was intended to.
2. Shop around before you commit to purchases.
There is a staggering amount of variety out there, and the first thing you find isn’t always the best. Let’s take a look at an easy example. You need a frost-free livestock waterer, so you type that into your favourite search engine and take a look. The first result that pops up is for a $500 galvanized steel trough. It doesn’t come with a heater, but you can always buy one separately. Do you buy it?
You shouldn’t – with only a few more minutes of searching, you can find an easier-to-clean, just-as-sturdy frost-free livestock waterer that’s actually sized for your livestock and comes with insulation and a heating system. If you’d gone with the first result you’d found, you’d have spent more money than you needed for something that would do the job only half as well and require more hours of upkeep.
3. Buying in bulk is your new best friend.
By being strategic and buying in bulk, you can save hundreds of dollars in a single purchase. But we don’t expect you to take our word for it – we’ll explain.
Let’s say you’re looking for chicken feed. In our hypothetical world, we’ll put a 10 lb bag at $15. If you go through a bag a month, you’re looking at $180 for the year. But now, let’s say that you can find that same feed for a 40 lb bag at $30. If you buy that one instead, your per-year feed cost is now $90 – a cost savings of 50%, which means that just by changing the amount of food you buy, you can stretch your feed money to cover two years instead of one.
Extend that thought experiment to larger animals, like cattle and horses, and the savings quickly become astronomical. If you only take away one tip from this blog, make sure it’s this one.
4. Find equipment, like livestock waterers, that does the work for you.
When it comes to working on a farm or ranch, your time is just as much of a commodity as what your farm produces. There are only so many hours in a day, and when you have multiple things to focus on, every minute counts. That’s why if you can find equipment designed to make your life easier, either by reducing or automating your workload, it’s worth your up-front capital investment.
Again coming back to livestock waterers as an example, let’s consider cleaning requirements. Your animals will need clean water, and just by drinking from the waterer, they’ll contaminate it over time. Would you rather spend five minutes blasting it out with a hose, or commit an hour to emptying, scrubbing, and refilling it?
Even if you don’t mind the time commitment, it adds up fast when you have not one but five waterers to address. You can save literally hours of your day, every day, by choosing a livestock waterer that’s easy to clean and easily outfitted with a water refill system. You can even find ones that help keep water cleaner for longer through self-closing access panels.
5. Plan for all seasons when purchasing equipment.
If you live and work in an environment with changing seasons, like Canada, then you already know that you’ve got to swap out your equipment for the appropriate weather. For some items, like the tires on your delivery truck, this switch is unavoidable. But for others, you can find items to do the work all year long.
As you browse for equipment like feeders and waterers, look for the ones that are designed to function no matter the weather. Instead of a plain concrete trough, look for a frost-free livestock waterer. The addition of insulation and a heater might mean a slightly higher up-front cost, but you won’t’ have to change your gear when temperatures drop, and you won’t have to spend hours out in the cold chipping away ice, either.
We’re slightly biased when we say our livestock waterers are the best around, but with almost 50 years of production experience and satisfied customers in 40 different countries, we think you’ll likely agree. SPI Plastic’s range of livestock waterers includes energy-free, frost-free, easy-to-clean designs, manufactured with rotational molding for strong, durable, seam-free products. With an online catalogue for your convenience and knowledgeable staff standing by to answer any questions you may have, we’ve done our best to make your job as easy as possible.
For more information on our frost-free livestock waterers, give us a call at 1-800-269-6533. You can also send us a message online.