Feed costs represent one of the largest annual operating cost for most. In order to maintain an optimum balance between feed costs and production, feeds must be analyzed and these analyses used to formulate rations and (or) supplements. Feedstuffs vary widely in nutrient concentration due to location, harvest date (maturity), year, and other management practices. Tabular values may be used if necessary, but it is important to remember that they are average values and that significant variation exists. On a dry matter basis, energy can easily vary ±10%, crude protein ±15%, and minerals by a much greater margin. You may use the same feed all the time but that does not mean the animals are able to utilize and get the same value from it year around. A lot depends on the mills quality control and how much testing they do to ensure what they think they are putting into the pellets is what they actually have in the pellets. The ingredients can and do vary greatly at different times of the year and even though the same ingredients at the same ratio's are used the pellets will be different. If not tested no adjustments will be made and the end product will vary in quality. It will still meet the standards of the analysis posted on the feed tag but you would not even bother to look at the tag if you knew how much the actual feed values can differ from the values listed on the tag. I have seen feeds listed at min 16% protein have over 20% in them. Most times it is not a huge difference as some changes can make the milling cost go up, but if a certain ingredient is of a much higher value and does not affect the cost the pellets can vary greatly. If you watch your feed very closely does the color change at all with the time of the year it is made?