Compound feed

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AFBI to delve in precision feeding for cows

Researchers at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in the UK have initiated a major new project to develop new precision concentrate allocation strategies for dairy cows.

This 3 year project is co-funded by DAERA and AgriSearch, and is seeking to reduce production costs by better aligning concentrate feed levels with each individual cow’s changing nutrient requirements in early lactation.

Photo: Henk Riswick
Photo: Henk Riswick

Tailor made feed and prediction models

Studies will examine the impact of allocating concentrates to cows based on their individual live weight, milk yield, milk composition and actual feed intake during the early lactation period. In addition, the project will examine if it is possible to predict the forage intake of individual cows in a herd based on individual performance data and stage of lactation. If this is achieved it will make it possible for farmers to more precisely allocate concentrates to meet the needs of individual cows within feed-to-yield type systems.

Use of Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy

The project will also examine the potential of Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy (MIR) to provide information about the health status of dairy cows. While MIR is the technology used by milk processors to determine the fat and protein concentration of milk, MIR can also be used to predict a number of other cow characteristics, including individual cow energy balance. Furthermore, AFBI’s membership of the UK’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) will enable this project to use advanced monitoring technologies to monitor dairy cow behaviour and changes in body condition score, and to identify if information obtained from these can be incorporated into improved feed management practices.

By Dr Conrad Ferris, AFBI Hillsborough

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