Reduce waste to stretch silage stocks until turnout

04 Mar 2019

Producers facing silage shortages ahead of turnout should take steps to reduce feed waste and produce more milk from available feed.

So says the company’s Jill Hunter, who adds that there is a huge variance in forage availability across the country, with some producers feeling the pressure more than others.

Practical measures

“But there are practical measures to reduce waste that can benefit all farms. Making small management changes can have a significant impact on waste reduction and, ultimately, the bottom line.”

The preliminary results from Alltech’s Feed Waste Reduction Initiative on-farm pilot study highlighted loading inaccuracies, of between 2% and 46%, as a key opportunity for improvement.

Forage budgeting

“We also saw wastage when silage was moved from the clamp to the diet feeder,” says Miss Hunter. “Regular spillages may seem insignificant, but they can add up over time and are often not taken into consideration when forage budgeting.”

She explained that the adoption of technology can also help improve ration presentation and reduce wastage, with one pilot study farm improving feed conversion efficiency from 1.2 to 1.39 following the implementation of InTouch.

Processing time

“This system is based on a weighing device on a diet feeder that simply guides operators through a specifically calculated loading order, quantity of ingredients and processing time.

“The end result is a TMR that has consistent structure, mix and chop length. And this delivered a total financial benefit of 4.7ppl, based on a TMR fed all year round.”

Further investigation

Self-assessing rations is also a good way to understand the extent of feed waste. “If more than 5% of feed is rejected at the feed barrier then further investigation is essential.

“Reviewing mix quality, cow cudding time, dung consistency and FCE performance are parameters that should be monitored as part of waste reduction strategy,” adds Miss Hunter.

Sub-optimal performance

“This will help flag up sub-optimal rumen performance, which will lead to increased feed waste within the cow, reduced performance, and feed stocks being eroded quicker than necessary.”