28 August 1998

Software helps to plan rations

In the first of our European

Dairy Farming Event

Spotlight on Profit previews,

Jessica Buss examines a

new rationing system

FORMULATE least-cost diets for dairy cows with FeedByte, a new computer rationing programme from SAC.

Developed by SACs nutritional experts using the latest scientific knowledge, FeedByte helps maintain healthy herds by providing a balanced diet while keeping feed costs down, says SAC dairy consultant Jimmy Goldie.

The computer programme, which runs on the operating system Windows, allows winter rations to be planned based on forage quality and availabilty. Beef cattle and sheep can also be rationned using the programme, he adds.

SAC consultants have been using the programme for about a year, and it is now being offered to other consultants and feed companies.

The programme uses the Metabolisable Protein rationing system, which has been in use in the UK for over five years. But it differs in that it calculates the quantities of feeds needed to supply cows energy and protein requirements at least cost, within appetite limits. Most current programmes need the consultant to enter a feed rate for each ration ingredient. FeedByte can be used to formulate and evaluate rations.

"However a least-cost ration is not always the best," admits Mr Goldie. Thats when hand steering the ration to allow a minimum inclusion rate for a particular feed to be used. Limits can also be set for ration content of long fibre, fat, crude protein, starch, sugar and nutrient detergent fibre.

Information on annual or daily milk yield, animal weight and milk quality must be entered before the ration can be calculated. The addition of calving dates and calving interval will allow a winter feed plan to be calculated.

"Rations can, therefore, be designed to feed the cow in the most cost-effective way using feeds which are available on-farm. When supplies of a feed are restricted – or available in excess – rations can be adjusted to take this into account."

FeedByte also includes an accurate prediction of stock appetite based on silage intake factors from SAC forage analysis results, based on SAC research, says Mr Goldie.

Producers using mixer wagons can also calculate mixes based on wagon capacity for easy feed loading management, he says.

Relative feed values can also be calculated to work out which offer best value on energy and protein.

&#8226 If you would like to try your ration on FeedByte, take a silage analysis and feed prices to the DRC stand in the Spotlight on Profit marquee at the European Dairy Farming Event on Sept 23-24. &#42


&#8226 Based on Metabolisable Protein rationing system.

&#8226 Least-cost rations.

&#8226 Uses silage intake factor to predict cow feed intakes.

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