TECHNICAL ARTICLES Dairy

Enhancing Farm Profits by Feeding a Higher Density Concentrate

TABLE

MOTIVATION

Increased pressure on milk producers to enhance profitability leads to the exploration of several strategies to do just that. Tendencies to marginalize concentrate feeding by means of quality are mostly contra-productive and lead to even less profit per farm. As a responsible feed company Meadow’s role is to enhance profit per farm by feeding a higher density of concentrate, enhancing milk production per cow and herd fertility which in turn result to increased profit per farm. Good genetics are rather important in doing so.

FIELDS OF STUDY

Dry Matter Intake (DMI); Milk production per cow/group (MP); Milk Price (MPrice); Open days (OD’s); Rate of conception (ROC); Body Condition Score (BCS); Margin over feed costs per cow (MOFC/cow).

KEY TERMS

DMI; MP; MPrice; OD’s; ROC; BCS; MOFC/cow.

AIM SETTING

To proof that profit per cow and hence per farm can be enhanced by feeding a higher density of concentrate.

GOALS

To improve all the mentioned fields of study.

PROCEDURE

Two groups of at least 25 cows within their first 100 days of lactation will be measured against each other for a minimum period of three months. Progress will be reported back on a monthly base (Addendum 1).

MANHOURS

Initial meeting and setup 20 hours.

The collection of on farm data and the keeping thereof will have to be monitored on a weekly base (3 hours / week); On farm collection once a month by administrator (8 hours / month); Monthly administration of data and preparation of report back (8 hours / month); A total of 29 hours / month.

Preparation for press might take another 16 hours in conclusion.

RUNNING COSTS

See addendum 1.

LITERATURE

All feeding calculations based on CPCNS.

REPORT BACK

Above trial was done over a period of 10 weeks. A concentrate (with ME 11.55 mJoule on an “as is” basis) which we felt was applicable on the pastures grazed at that stage (perennial ryegrass) was fed at an “as is” rate of 8 kg/day for cows of high genetic standard that came into lactation.

Graph 1 shows clearly that the trial group performed better on this particular concentrate on both milk production and margin above concentrate costs. It also shows that a rumen micro population adaptation period of 3 weeks does in fact exist. As later will be pointed out, the difference in price of these concentrates fed will determine the economy of such a practice.

As summarized in table 1(below) the trial concentrate resulted in a better margin over feed costs of R 0.14 per cow per day. This was obtained with a R 185 per ton differential in price. A differential of R 203 per ton would have resulted in nothing gained or lost. In the case of this trial R 185 bought an extra 3.84 mJ on an “as is” basis.

It therefore seems that when density (energy) is the criteria up to R 11.80 more per mJ “as is” can be paid for a more dens concentrate to still be worth wile in increasing the margin over concentrate costs.

GRAPH

TABLE

Although marginally, the number of open days of the cows on trial were less than the control. They also showed a marginally better rate of conception.

CONCLUSION

Although an extra profit of R 0.14 per cow per day does not seem like an awful lot it can make an annual difference of over R 5000 on a 100 cow unit. This however might be too insignificant for a lot of farmers and suspicion is that the spoken about differences should be much bigger. In conclusion then: Margin over feed costs and fertility improves when a concentrate of higher density is fed. The actual cost of the concentrate will to the extend shown in paragraph 3 determine the profitability of such a practice.

FURTHER TRIALS

Another on farm trial is set out and bound to commence during February 2004. In this trial the level of concentrate fed with regard to profit per farm/ha will be tested.

Talks to scientifically verify these trials are taking place and will be finalized timely.

Date published: 2003-09-01

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