Increased buffer feeding accuracy using new farming techniques

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Increased buffer feeding accuracy using new farming techniques

July 18 2022

In the face of rising forage prices, the efficient use of grass in both grazing and conservation is becoming increasingly important for farmers to maintain margins. Balance the need to ensure sufficient stock of fodder for the coming winter with the desire to make the most of grazing to reduce expenditure on purchased fodder.

As the climate remains unpredictable, as evidenced by the cool, wet spring of 2020 followed by hot, dry weather, grass growth rates have experienced significant year-on-year variations. With so many price swings and seasonal changes, many farmers will likely require preventative feeding at some point during the grazing season to prepare for dips in weed growth.

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While the majority of preventative forage consists of corn and grass forage, there are alternatives available. In partnership with molasses blend supplier ED&F Man, Agri-EPI research conducted at the Agri-EPI South West Dairy Development Center has found that including a proportion of straw- and molasses-based liquid forage in the buffer forage can provide the dual benefits of allowing production to be preserved while preserving molasses. on valuable silage stock.

Buffer Nutrition Research

The experiment aimed to understand and analyze the effect of replacing some grass-fed in buffer forage with a mixture of wheat straw and Regomix, a high-energy, high-protein liquid forage made from molasses, compared to the original feed and molasses/straw. buffer feed.

Using the center’s GEA Mullerup Automated Feeding System, a digitally controlled system with the precision needed for feeding trials, and working with Agri-EPI’s operating partner, Kingshay Dairy Consultants, foolproof data and delivery protocols were adhered to for reliable results.

Lower feed costs and increase production

Georgina Chapman, Director of Technical Support at ED&F Man stated: “Over six weeks, there was no difference in yield between cows that were fed the initial stock and those that included hay and Regumix. The cows were mainly breastfed later, and the animals showed The molasses solution has similar stability to lactation but slightly better synthetic quality.”

“Importantly, for cows in the later lactation period, there was no difference in body condition changes between the two groups,” she added. “However, 7.5 kg of feed was provided per cow per day. Assuming 200 cows were fed with the new buffer, the total silage saved during the six weeks could be more than 60 tons, providing more nutrition in the winter.”

In a commercial herd, prophylactic feed is likely to be required for 18 weeks; On closer analysis, this indicates potential savings of close to 200 tons, which can then be used to increase feed feeding per cow per day during the winter.

Chapman noted that because molasses and straw are easier to store and less likely to perish in storage, including them in forage can also contribute to increased forage production and availability, ultimately maintaining production from grazing and reducing the impact of higher feed costs on farmers .

Agricultural technology increases buffer feeding accuracy

Reviewing the trial results, Agri-EPI Chief Dairy Officer at the South West Dairy Development Center Duncan Forbes said, “We know that growth rates can change very quickly…With the best will in the world, no dairy farmer can sustain production grazing. Using manual techniques. At the same time, frequently adjusting stored feed can be a challenge.”

“Collecting and using better management information can help make an important step in improving grazing use – and new technologies are key to that.”

“Integrated use of data and technology in this way can help improve grazing contribution, reduce forage costs, improve grazing use and help achieve carbon reduction goals for more sustainable systems.”

With more experiments already underway using hyperspectral imaging and satellite data to monitor and predict grass growth, helping farmers improve precision grazing and fine-tuning for buffer forages, agricultural technology continues to support farmers. Agri-EPI’s work to improve agricultural productivity and save farmers time and money has attracted the attention of the British Dairy Company, which has covered precision feeding trials.