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and they really should look to grasp them.” According to Professor David Colman Emeritus Professor of

Agriculture Economics at The University of Manchester, improving FCE requires a joined up approach from farmers and their suppliers but the benefits can be considerable at an individual farm level. Reporting on a major study, Professor Colman argued that at any

given milk price, increasing FCE will increase margins over all feed costs. “If we increase FCE then we reduce the total feed bill, including purchased and home grown feeds. Assuming milk price and overhead costs remain unchanged then margins must increase (graph 2). And a large scale analysis in the UK and France shows a positive relationship between FCE and margin.

Graph 4: Integrated technologies deliver sustained advantage

the farm including feed suppliers, vets, consultants and others. With a common focus significant benefits will accrue.” Gerard Keenan used the summit to announce a major and innovative

Graph 2: How Increased FCE Raises Profit

global association with leading feed industry businesses in several major dairying countries (see box below). He urged the industry to get serious about the messages in the Foresight report, and to do so quickly.

Partners in Global Summit Keenans ADM (USA) “Where farmers really focus on FCE then significant improvements

can result, leading to higher margins. Graph 3 looks at what happened in the first year when farmers in the UK and France adopted the Keenan Mech-Fiber system and made FCE a key metric on their farms. The average gain in FCE was 0.08 kg fat corrected milk/kgDM in the UK and 0.14kgmilk.kgDM in France, and the economic benefit is significant. The top herds in this study are using feed 25% more efficiently than the average and in the UK this difference could be worth over £60,000 per annum for a 150 cow herd.”

Graph 3: FCE and Margin Gain 2010 - France (left column of graph) and UK (right column)

Margin Gain Cents/litre

Cents/cow/day Euros/cow/lactation

France UK 3

79 241 BOCM Pauls (UK) Enterprise Ireland

Agrifirm (Netherlands) MSG (China)

Sanders (France) “The report highlights that in many cases we have the technology

and research findings to drive increases in output while reducing resource use. It is essential these developments are embraced and exploited by farmers now. “This requires a joined up approach and this is why we are now

working with many leading companies in the dairy supply chain to promote the opportunity offered by FCE. “We know we can not make this change on our own and need

1.7 46

140 Developing sustainable agriculture is going to require a commitment

to innovation and the uptake on new technologies. Professor Bob Jolly from Iowa State University argued that two types of innovation are required: new ways to produce food, and new ways to do business across the value chain. “Improving farm outputs needs better systems as there are no

silver bullets. Take nutrition as an example. Cows need better chemical nutrition with the correct balance of nutrients in the diet, and increasing this includes paying attention to rates of fermentation in the rumen. This feed needs to have optimal physical nutrition including how feeds are processed and are actually offered to the cow. “And we need best management practices to ensure cows get the

consistency they require and are managed in an environment which encourages good intakes and effective digestion. “When all these factors are aligned then the farm can achieve a

sustained competitive advantage (graph 4). And achieving this will require support from the many businesses that influence how cows are fed on

to work with specialists in other parts of the feed industry to effect the changes required. Our expertise is in physical nutrition and diet preparation and we want to work with others who can bring their own expertise to the table. This will include experts in chemical nutrition, in dairy cow health, in physical building layout and cow comfort to name but a few areas. “Currently the businesses we are working with are evaluating our

experiences to date and understanding how they can dovetail with their own market position. And we hope to invite others who can influence farming systems to join us in this initiative. “Doing nothing is simply not an option. The problems won’t

miraculously disappear in 2050. They will go on beyond there and this is why we must influence change in farming systems now. Food sustainability is already an immediate issue for some parts of the world and it will soon be our problem. Some countries are already making significant progress. Take India for an example “India produces 100M tonnes of milk per year and where farmers

are focusing on FCE they are seeing 20% improvements. Yet the baseline FCE has remained unchanged in the UK for over 10 years. “The leading dairying nations, both current and prospective need to

develop sustainable farming systems which preserve the environment, produce the foods required to feed the world and, most importantly, which allows farms to make the profits required to allow future investment in the development of their businesses. This way we all stay in business and help meet the global challenges,” Mr Keenan concludes.


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