Closing the gap in dairy cattle feed efficiency

Published 3 April 14

Forty-six delegates participated in a one-day interactive workshop on feed efficiency, held at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.  “Feed and forage costs can account for up to 75% of the variable costs (according to the 2014 MilkBench+ evidence report) associated with dairy farming, so feed efficiency matters to profitability,” said Dr Jenny Gibbons, DairyCo’s research and development manager.

“The efficiency of converting feed to milk has improved in GB over the past 50 years, largely as a result of selecting, feeding and managing cows to increase productivity.  However, there  is a key role to play in advocating management practices and performance measures that will improve feed efficiency further, thus driving competitiveness and sustainability in the dairy industry,” she continued.

Dr Steve Little, on behalf of the Australian dairy levy body Dairy Australia, joined the workshop via the internet.  “In Australia, farmers are able to choose one of five main feeding systems and assess their system against annual feed conversion efficiency targets for milking cows,” said Dr Little. He added: “Targets are achievable in well-managed systems with minimal wastage, good quality feed, minimal feed gaps and good rumen function throughout the year.”

To hear more about the Australian perspective on feeding systems and associated feed conversion efficiency targets, please tune in to Dr Little’s presentation. This workshop was organised under the umbrella of DairyCo’s Research Partnerships, led by University of Nottingham to bring together the most up-to-date research on improving efficiency.

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