Is there a saving to be made on concentrate?

Published 24 July 15

As the spring calvers are over their peak yields and the autumn calvers are in their late lactation or drying off, Piers Badnell, AHDB Dairy Technical Extension Officer, looks, on behalf of Forage for Knowledge, if there is an opportunity to cut down on concentrate.

A decrease in concentrates may not be possible in drier parts of the country, where grass growths have suffered recently. However, where supply and demand are in balance there might be an opportunity.

Seed heads are behind us now so the challenge is to grow leaf on the grass and fully utilise it. In spring calving herds, most cows will be back in calf and with good-quality, leafy, swards a milk production of 20-25 litres per cow can be supported by intakes of 16-18kg DM per day.

If some cows are still yielding above this 20-25 litre mark, note how many, and if in reality there aren’t that many, is it economic to be feeding concentrate for just a few cows? Maybe these cows need a challenge as long as quality grass supply is not an issue.

For example, a 150 cow herd gets fed 2kg concentrate per cow per day. At £220 per tonne, that is a total cost of £66 per day.

Most of the country has had rain in the past week or so and if demand and supply are in balance then maybe drop 1kg out for a few days to see what happens to the tank. If yields stay the same, look to cut out the concentrate again. When it works out, you could save £1,980 over the next month.

So, do the cows need the extra concentrate or would it be better off in your pocket?