Know How / Feed and nutrition

See the latest thinking on dietary requirements for dairy and beef cattle, sheep and pigs, from ration formulation, minerals and supplements to forage preservation. Advice on selecting maize varieties, silage analysis, getting colostrum quality right, fodder choices and finishing rations.

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Case studies

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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…


Home-made solar feeder dishes out tailored ration

A livestock farmer in East Sussex has built a solar-powered feeder to help his youngstock calves get their fair share of cake when grazing poorer-quality permanent pasture. Matt Ford previously…


How silage rationing can cut suckler cow costs by £50 a head

Rationing the silage intakes of dry suckler cows according to body condition is resulting in forage savings of more than £40 a head on one Welsh livestock farm. Gwion Owen,…


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…


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…


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…

Practical advice

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A guide on how to improve water quality on poultry units

Issues with water quality that are left unaddressed can have long-term negative effects on a flock, both in terms of bird welfare and the economic impact of disease and poor…


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…


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…


3 tips to help cut zinc oxide from weaner diets

Reducing protein levels and increasing feed intake are helping a growing number of Danish piggeries remove zinc oxide from weaner diets.    A study of the practices on Danish farms…


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…


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…


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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…


How maize silage analysis can reduce fertiliser spend

German growers are using maize silage crude protein levels to gauge the next year’s fertiliser requirements, resulting in reduced leaching and input costs.   Crude protein levels of 8-8.5% in…


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…