This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
32


CONVERTING LESS FEED TO MORE MILK A WIN FOR THE FARMER AND THE ENVIRONMENT


W


ith feed costs representing 40-50% of the cost of milk production on most farms, it plays a major role in the profitability of the business. The return on investment does not stack up when you try to use more feed to produce more milk. This means it is important to to concentrate on how efficiently cows use the feed they are currently being fed. The definition of the efficiency of any business is to use the least possible amount of inputs to achieve the largest output possible.


Cathal Bohane Head of Keenan InTouch Nutition


Feed efficiency (FE) becoming more prevalent in the industry of late. The UK farmer always wants to produce more milk, but this cannot be done at any cost as its impact on the environment needs to be considered. The increasing need for more production is driven by the demand for food worldwide which is promising to drive farm gate prices and this in turn will lend itself to increasing environmental pressure.


Environmental sustainability is an essential requirement for the food production systems of the 21st century. Pressure to pay attention to it seems to be coming from outside agriculture rather than inside and this pressure will only increase when there are headlines in the press or internet such as “Cow ‘emissions’ more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars.”


This presents a challenge and an opportunity for the UK dairy farm. The targets set for losses to the environment, have been somewhat offset in years gone by with reducing animal numbers, but any extra production will have to be produced within these targets. Techniques and technologies used will be important in delivering on production and environmental targets without the farm business becoming stagnant, but they need to be simple and also deliver a margin. Getting bigger does not mean getting better, but how efficiently that extra output is produced, is important. Focusing on feed efficiency can give a “win-win” situation as this can increase productivity and increase margin while at the same time reducing the level of waste to the environment.


ROLE OF FEED EFFICIENCY ON ENVIRONMENT


The basic premise is that if FE is improved by producing more milk from the same amount of feed then more feed is used for milk production and thus less feed is wasted to urine, manure or air. Of all the nitrogen (N)/protein that a cow consumes only 28% of this is used for milk production while about 70% of it is excreted as urine and manure. While some of this waste is recycled, a lot of this is wasted to leaching and the air. The theory that better FE results in less manure and thus less N; phosphorous (P), and methane has been backed up by numerous published research papers and further supported by research from Penn State that increasing FE not alone shows a decrease in manure production, but also the N and P within it. Table 1 shows results from that research.


Table 1: Estimated total manure; N and P for 100 lactating cows based on change in FE over 365 days Milk


Feed Efficiency (ECM/DMI)


1.49 1.55 1.61


Yield (kg)


36.4 36.4 36.4


DMI (kg)


24.5 23.6 22.7


Milk


Solids (kg)


2.44 2.44 2.44


Total


Manure (kg/cow)


74.1 72.3 70.0


Annual Manure


(t / 100 cow)


2705 2632 2558


Annual Nitrogen Excretion (t/cow)


16.24 15.86 15.49


Annual


Phosphorous Excretion (t/cow)


2.03 1.91 1.79


Increasing feed efficiency by 8% (1.49 vs 1.61) resulted in a reduction in overall manure production by 147t; 0.75t of N and 0.24t of P for the 100 cow herd.


Some could argue that farmers could also just feed less protein/N, but this can curb production so the best way is to increase the efficiency of use of these nutrients. This is backed up by research by Arndt in 2015 which showed that higher FCE cows partitioned more N towards milk (30.3 vs 19.1%) and less towards waste N (64.6 vs 72%) as a percentage of N intake. Table 2 summarises the reduction in the amounts of N and methane lost due to the increase in FE on more than 3000 farms implementing the Keenan system.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100