Dairy Event 2011: producers look to alternative protein

Livestock producers are moving more and more towards alternative protein sources, according to feed and forage specialists at this year’s Dairy Event and Livestock Show.

Rhun Fychan from the Silage Advisory Centre said he had been inundated with enquiries about red clover and lucerne, which are becoming more popular with producers looking to maximise their home-grown forages.

“Farmers need to consider how to utilise these alternative forages to the upmost,” he added. “There’s no point in ensiling them in a clamp mixed in with grass because it will disappear. These crops need to be ensiled separately and that’s where the bales come in because you can ensile small areas of forage and keep them separate.”

Mike Phillips from NWF Agriculturesaid he had also seen a move towards these crops, as producers target their feeding much harder.

This was echoed by Keenan nutritionist Mark Voss: “I think more farmers are looking at how little they can get away with because of the cost of bought-in feeds. The key thing now is to improve the feed conversion ratio for the whole diet to get more from both forage and concentrates.”

BOCM PAULS director of feeds marketing Frank Thomson added: “I think it’s critical that farmers maximise what they can get from their home-grown forages.

“But trends would also suggest that as herd sizes increase, people are probably using more co-products or supplementary feeds because they have the size to utilise that in their systems.”

KW Alternative Feeds nutritionist Dave Collett added that the improved milk price had encouraged low-input, low-output dairy farmers to use more concentrates in their rations.



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