A new grazing assessment system to give dairy farmers advice on supplementary feeding to maximise margins at grazing has been launched by Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition International.
The Dial-A-Yield system allows farms to collect handfuls of grass which are then weighed and dried in a microwave to assess dry matter content.
A special calculator then determines the potential yield from grazing based on the dry matter content data and the amount of grazing time per day.
Technical director Dr John Allen said: “Correctly assessing the value of grazing can have a huge impact on margins and cow health.
“Under estimating grazing can lead to unnecessary levels of supplementary feeding and reduced margins while over-estimating yields from grazing can result in cows losing condition and failing to produce.”
“Our new Dial-A-Yield system allows farmers to take the guesswork out of determining the true value of grazing and so allows yields, margins and health to be improved,” he added.
He said users of the system are often surprised by the results which show differences not normally picked up on by the farmer, but analysing the different variables driving milk from grazing can allow buffers and supplementary feeding to be “fine tuned” and improve margins.
Dr Allen explained: “For example in May a cow eating an average bite size of 30g and grazing for 10 hours a day could be expected to produce M+16.5 litres if the grass was 22% DM, but this would fall to M+11.8 litres if dry matter fell to 16%, perhaps following a spell of wet weather.
“Equally assuming a 30g bite size and grass at 18% DM, a cow grazing for 10 hours a day in May would be predicted to give M+13.7 litres, but extend the grazing to 12 hours a day and this would rise to M+19 litres, allowing a saving of 2.5kg of concentrates.”