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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DAIRY

How a dairy is making a margin over concentrate of 29ppl

Daylesford Organic Farm is successfully keeping production costs down by running a low-input system and maximising milk from forage. The dairy is making a 29ppl margin over concentrate, with milk…

LIVESTOCK MARKETING

How dairy farmer makes over £6/kg from Jersey bull calves

When Devonshire dairy farmer Neil Weston switched from being a flying herd to breeding his own replacements it created an unwanted boom in dairy bull calves. But after being inspired…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How NZ farmer uses plant hormone to raise grass yields by 30%

New Zealand dairy farmer Dan Hinton is improving early spring grazing covers, by applying a product containing the hormone gibberellin to grass.  The application is allowing the two mobs of cattle…

HOUSING AND HANDLING

How dairy farmer has improved post-calving health

Dedicated housing for transition cows has improved post-calving cow health at a Welsh dairy farm. John and Anna Booth invested in the new facility at Rhual Dairy, an AHDB Strategic…

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…

Practical advice

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FEED AND NUTRITION

4 tips to manage the risk of dry silage

Many farms have produced high-quality forage (11.5+ of metabolisable energy) this year and should factor in silage quality to save money by cutting supplementary feeding. Independent silage consultant Dave Davies…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How investing in a forage merger has improved silage quality

Investing in 9.5m forage merger has helped improve silage quality and production for a family-run dairy unit in Scotland. Brothers Robert and David Veitch run 340 milking cows at Greenside…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Advice on testing and keeping water clean for livestock

A “control, check and clean” approach to managing water quality in cattle drinking troughs can encourage higher intakes and remove harmful bacteria. Contaminated water will reduce intakes – with cattle…

DAIRY

Guidance on improving water provision for dairy cows

Cattle farmers typically ask for advice on feed issues like rations, intakes, palatability, presentation and trough space. But when it comes to what is arguably the cows’ most important nutrient…

HOUSING AND HANDLING

A guide on how to harvest rainwater on a farm

Livestock farms can use large amounts of water, with one study by Adas suggesting dairy farms spend £31-£100 a cow a year on water. It may be a worthwhile investment…

FEED AND NUTRITION

What causes silage clamp slippage and how to avoid it

Uneven density is the biggest cause for silage slippage in UK clamps, an AHDB-funded study has concluded. The 18-month study, which was conducted by independent consultant Dr Dave Davies of…

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…