Know How / Dairy / Feed and nutrition

Managing feed and nutrition to maximise milk output has become a precise science in dairy herds. We have information on grazing management, developments in grass and maize silage and formulating rations with a balanced protein, energy, mineral and fibre content.

AHDB resource

Download the feed budget planner spreadsheet

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Case studies

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FEED AND NUTRITION

5 ways a Cheshire dairy has reduced ration costs

Cheshire-based dairy farmers Tom and Karen Halton have reduced ration costs by 0.5p/litre in their 530-cow herd and lifted milk from forage by 500 litres to 3,000 litres a head.…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Fodder beet proves cost-effective for spring-calving herd

Nick and Liz Haines have been firm believers in growing fodder beet to feed dry cows over the winter. The couple, who have recently come to the end of their…

FEED AND NUTRITION

How Welsh dairy farm cut concentrate costs by 3.1p/litre

Taking more frequent cuts at shorter intervals has improved silage quality at a Welsh dairy farm, lifting margin over purchased feed by 11%, or £350/ha. Father and son Hugo and…

FEED AND NUTRITION

How a dairy farmer cut the use of soya bean meal in rations

Buckinghamshire dairy farmer Richard West has reduced the amount of soya bean meal fed to his herd by two-thirds. Historically, soya bean meal was the main source of protein in…

DAIRY

How a low-cost system helped Cornish dairy treble herd

Developing a low-cost, grass-based system has brought two key benefits for a Cornish family that is on course to quadruple cow numbers in six years. Not only does the grass-based…

FEED AND NUTRITION

How a dairy herd managed drought with 6.5p/litre feed cost

Strict control of parlour feeding and a tight autumn-calving block saw a Cornish dairy through the 2018 drought with a total purchased feed cost of 6.52p/litre. Because peak lactation happens…

Practical advice

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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Advice on close-up pen timings for dry cows before calving

The number of days a cow spends in the close-up pen will have a direct effect on fertility and milk yield, making it a vital parameter that all farmers should…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Pros and cons of 5 close-up dry cow feeding options

The close-up dry period is a critical period in the last three weeks before calving. It is essential to the success of the next lactation and rations should change to…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Growing maize after a wet season: Challenges and solutions

This year the amount of maize grown is predicted to increase by 20% to combat the shortage in winter cereals being drilled following the wet autumn. Farmers Weekly and crop…

FEED AND NUTRITION

6 tips to avoid mycotoxins in silage ahead of harvest

The presence of mycotoxins in silage can cause huge repercussions for livestock producers, with issues ranging from reduced feed intake to abortion often a result of a mycotoxicosis infection. However,…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How multi-cut can deliver profits of £333/ha

Cutting grass more frequently can deliver better-quality forage capable of delivering £333/ha profit above a traditional three-cut silage-making system. Dairy nutritionists Volac compared a five-cut system to a three-cut system…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

Advice on establishing and grazing herbal leys

A herbal ley is a diverse sward that includes different grasses and species, with varying rooting depths, properties and drought tolerances. They have a positive effect on soil health, structure…

Insights

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FEED AND NUTRITION

Study shows how calcium can affect dry cow fertility

Increasing calcium in pre-calving diets can improve postpartum uterine health and fertility, a recent study has revealed. The study, which took place at the University of Illinois, examined feeding dry…

MAIZE

Rain puts pressure on maize with tricky harvest

Prolonged rain has made maize harvesting difficult in recent days, with some suffering with flooding and high rainfall. Maize maturity has already been slowed by rain as green plants have…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How to profit from forage-based dairy-beef system

Forage-based dairy-beef systems are profitable even in extreme weather conditions, a two-year study at Harper Adams University has concluded. The project investigated whether it was feasible to finish dairy-bred beef…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Why structural fibre is essential for fresh cows

Ensuring structural fibre is available to fresh cows in very early lactation could ease transition by reducing metabolic issues and stabilising rumen function. This is according to NWF head of…

DAIRY

Oregano-based additive cuts resistant bacteria in waste milk

Reading University researchers have used a plant-based feed additive to achieve major reductions in antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria found in waste milk fed to calves. The additive is formulated from 100%…

FEED AND NUTRITION

How feeding wholecrop to dairy-beef steers can cut costs

Diets made up mainly of wholecrop wheat can offer a suitable alternative to bought-in cereals for finishing cattle, a recent study has found. Research at Harper Adams University found that…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Research shows benefits of pair housing calves pre-weaning

Pair housing calves before weaning can help them adapt better to different situations as they mature, leading to improved concentrate intakes and higher growth compared with those housed alone. Professor…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Is it worthwhile feeding supplements to produce more milk?

Feeding supplement to grass-based dairy cows can be profitable but only in a year with high milk prices, a trial in New Zealand has shown. However, feed prices must be…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Cattle bounce back after poor fodder beet growth rates

A project at Harper Adams is investigating if it is feasible to finish dairy-bred beef calves on forage alone.  The project, led by Adas and funded by AHDB Beef &…

LIVESTOCK

Compact feeding lifts milk yields by 1.6 litres a cow

A feeding system that prevents dairy cows sorting concentrates from forage in a total mixed ration (TMR) has been shown to increase average daily milk yield by 1.6 litres a…