25 July 1997

Feed by-products can pay off

REFORMULATING rations for high genetic merit dairy cows to include by-products can help offset lower milk prices.

Thats according to Derbyshire-based ADAS consultant David Levick, speaking at a farm open day organised by equipment manufacturers Bou-matic at Home Farm, Berkswell, Warks.

Mr Levick said that producers must seek to produce yields to the maximum of their herds genetic capability, at minimum feed costs.

He explained that this year producers could improve yield for relatively little cost because by-product prices were at a five-year low.

"This means that with lower forage and quota costs, milk producers have the chance to make better margins now than they could a year ago. It is still profitable to maximise yields in herds of high genetic merit.

"The high silage yields and grass growth have reduced demand for straights, resulting in price falls. This means high quality diets could be formulated from low cost ingredients on offer this summer.

By-products have helped raise yields at Home Farm from an average of 8350 litres to 8650 litres since June last year and are on target to achieve 9500 litres by March 1998.

"The current ration comprises Protamino – a fat coated, wheat gluten protein – wheat, maize gluten and minerals. This has reduced feed costs from £130/t to £105/t, cutting milk production costs by 1.5p/litre.

"On some units it would be possible to cut feed costs by £50/t, doubling the savings to 3p/litre," said Mr Levick

To formulate cost effective rations ADAS midlands dairy team manager Mark Roach said that milk producers must derive the true cost of feed ingredients for each MJ of energy.

"There is a huge variation and it is apparent that grass silage costs are surprisingly high.

"For example, grass is the cheapest form of feed at about 0.49p/MJ ME but grass silage costs are 1.03p/MJ ME when the fixed costs involved in silage production, such as machinery and labour, are taken into account," said Mr Roach.

"Proprietary concentrates cost about 1.35p/MJ ME while cereals this year cost only 0.71p/MJ ME and feeds such as potatoes are available for only 0.38p/MJ ME."

BY-PRODUCTS

&#8226 Boost milk production

&#8226 Cut ration costs