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.

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Case studies

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How one dairy farm installed robots to cut down milking time

Since robots were installed at Argoed Farm, average milk yield in the Holstein herd has increased by 2,000 litres a year, to 9,000 litres, an immediate payback from investing in…


How a dairy made a two-year transition to organic farming

This year marked a turning point for the Lywood family as they sold their first litres of organic milk from Marshalls Farm in West Sussex, following a two-year conversion period.…


Three-times-a-day switch improves yields by 2,000 litres/cow

When the George family increased milking frequency they realised an uplift in milk yield of 2,000 litres a cow. As pedigree Holsteins, the cows were already high yielding, producing an…


Soaking concentrates lifts yield by 1.5 litres a cow a day

Scottish farmer William Baillie has increased milk yields by 1.5 litres a cow a day since making small changes to the diet of his dairy cows.   Soaking concentrates overnight…


9 benefits of switching to a zero-grazing system

Housing cows and delivering fresh grass to them daily on a zero-grazing system has helped Colin Murdoch make the most of every corner of the farm, boost milk from forage…


How a dairy farmer cut feed costs to 7.68p/litre

Robotic dairy farmers Tony and Michael Ball have lifted milk from forage to 3,035 litres by taking four cuts every five weeks, helping to keep total feed costs at 7.68p/litre.…

Practical advice

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4 ways to further improve herd fertility

Many farmers could make big improvements to the fertility of their herds by paying greater attention to dry cow management, stable nutrition and routine vet visits. According to vet Graeme…


How to manage acidosis when feeding multi-cut grass silage

Dairy farmers switching to high-quality grass silages made in multi-cut systems should persevere if they are encountering acidosis from young, wet, low-fibre silages. Some dairy farms are reporting sub-acute acidosis…


5 ways to reduce methane in dairy cows through nutrition

Methane output from cows has been in focus of late, largely because of its high global warming potential. However, Liam Sinclair, professor of animal science at Harper Adams University, says…


How farmers and advisers are failing transition cows

Pre-calving cows don’t have adequate room in cubicle housing and one in five is lame (score two or above). These were just two of the concerning findings from a recent…


Video: How to take an integrated approach to rodent control

The best way to deal with rat infestations is not to have them in the first place. Waiting until you see rats running around the farm is too late. Every…


How to avoid costly silage losses from damaged wrap

Birds are a major source of damage to baled silage, but tears can occur at the baling and gathering stages, too. If a hole is not patched, air will seep…


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How to get the most from this year's variable silage crop

This year’s silage is proving to be variable in quality and will need careful and frequent monitoring to make the best use of it. That is the verdict on samples…


Calf bottles and tube feeders on test

It is unsurprising many farmers are switching from bottles to buckets with teats for feeding milk to older calves. Our test, carried out over a four-month period at my family…


Why urea-based products should be avoided to preserve grain

Urea-based products used to preserve rolled grain lose at least 40% of nitrogen content before they are consumed by the animal, new research has shown. Urea acts as a preservative,…


Scientists developing EBV for lower methane emission

Farmers could be selecting cattle bred to produce lower methane emissions in the near future, according to a leading scientist. Methane is an important greenhouse gas, with 28-times the potential…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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%…


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…


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…


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…

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