Calibrate cow feeders to avoid feed waste

Farmers could be feeding double the amount of feed necessary if their feeders are not calibrated, experts are warning.

Trials conducted across a random sample of 176 parlour feeders by HST Feeds found most were delivering the wrong quantity of feed, with the worse delivering more than twice the required amount.

The consequences of poorly calibrated feeders are huge, according to Nick Johns, sales director at HST Feeds.

“Based on a 8kg/day feed rate for high-yielding dairy cows in peak lactation, the highest feeder we tested was delivering 16.7kg, while the lowest feeder was only delivering 1.2kg. This kind of discrepancy means cows are potentially being massively overfed, leading to huge costs, or significantly underfed, leading to potential performance and fertility problems later on,” said Mr Johns.

And, with feed prices on the increase, the importance of optimising feed rates is only increasing, he added.

“With feed prices at an all-time high, it is important to feed the right feed to the right cows at the right stage of lactation. This means all farmers should make it a priority to test their parlour and out-of-parlour feeders as soon as possible, and then re-calibrate them every month following the manufacturers’ guidelines. It could make enough difference over the winter to save the increase in feed costs that everyone is currently facing.”

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