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Forage Dry Matter Intake

The new area of increased nutritional awareness

Feeding High Protein Forages - Milk Production

Forage Intake and Performance

The aim in feeding dairy cows is to maximise dry matter intake leading to more efficient milk production. The cow gets a higher portion of nutrients (particularly in respect of protein) from the forage as less is wasted in faeces and urine. Therefore maximizing dry matter intake permits feeding higher-forage, lower-concentrate rations which produce the same level of milk production.

The use of alternative forage crops and the nutritional advances that they bring allow dairy farms a modern and alternative approach to dairy cow nutrition.

High Fibre verses Low Fibre Diets

In simple terms high protein mixed legume forage (triticale and lupin) based rations recognise that the cow is a ruminant and establish a naturally functioning rumen which is then able to maximise feed intake and the efficiency of feed utilisation to levels not previously achieved. These high fibre diets also make the cow ''feel well''. Conventional low fibre, high starch dairy cow rations do not do this since their composition has become too close to rations that are more suited to simple stomached animals such as pigs and humans. As a result they force the rumen to function unaturally which is associated with significant problems, not least of which are lower than optimum dry matter intakes and poorly efficient feed utilisation.

High protein mixed Legume forages (triticale and lupin) have a vastly increased fibre content compared to grasses due to their higher % of lignin. This allows the rumen to create a mat of fibre which promotes ideal, natural conditions in the rumen for the microbes to digest large amounts of feed as efficiently as possible. The result of herds receiving high quality fibre and digestible protein such as triticale and lupin is an elimination of sub acute ruminal acidosis (SARA) and improved performance.

Therefore feed intakes are higher with high protein legume forages. Increasing the dairy animals Dry Matter Intake to 26-28kg per day has been achieved using mixed high protein forages.

In contrast, conventional dairy cow rations in the UK rarely achieve Dry Matter Intakes of 23kg per day and in most herds they are much lower than this. This is because many dairy rations today are formulated to replace long fibre with starchy concentrates to try and raise the energy intake of the cow. Instead these rations result in rumen acidosis, indigestion, poor feed intakes and poor feed utilisation. The outcomes of this are to actually impair energy absorbtion by the cow and in addition to make her ''feel unwell''.

Forage Utilisation verses Bulk Concentrate

As the influence of high protein forages increases in rations there is a reduction in overall purchased feed by 4kg per cow /day and some exceptional cases even more. This occurs through the use of high protein forages that contain high levels of digestible undegradable protein (DUP), essentially by-pass protein. Making better and more efficient use of home grown digestible protein is more desirable to the dairy farmer because expensive bought in protein is essentially the same (DUP) found in the high protein mixed forage that can be grown on the farm. This results in lower purchased feed costs per unit of milk produced and a nutrition programme that is substantially different through the use of home grown digestible protein. New forages stimulate milk production by creating the right environment for rumen mat formation and cudding leading to healthy and more digestibly efficient and productive animals.

Products and Services

Practical Dairy Solutions is a practical business service whose sole aim is helping farmers to improve their business. We aim to achieve this by:

• Promoting the use of home-grown crops as dairy herd feed to reduce overhead costs, improve forage quality and reduce reliance on expensive, mass-produced, bulk concentrate
• Promoting the use of alternative Protein arable crops, such as lupins (grain legumes) and triticale. These are widely used as animal feed in other countries, but are almost unknown in the UK.
• Promoting increased dairy herd efficiency through improved animal nutrition.
• Provide a dairy herd management & relief service
• Provide a comprehensive soil sampling & crop agronomy service
• Provide organic and conventional protein seed purchases and crop management
• Promote the use of the Practical Dairy Solutions crop seed quotation system
• Prove that dairy farming can be a successful and profitable business, even in these challenging times

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