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The Need - Feed Efficiency
Great challenges surround the future availability and price of cattle feed, the greatest expense on the dairy farm.
Worldwide growth of the dairy industry has increased the demand for corn and other cattle feed crofts. Severe drought in different parts of the world, along with other factors, limits the availability of cattle feed, increasing overall feed costs. The result is a decrease in the milk per feed cost ratio.
The dairy industry has always had to maintain a delicate balance between high quality feed for maximized production and the economic implications of this feed. This is especially true in today's environment of high feed costs.
Controlling and balancing feed consumption of dairy herds is a key factor in farm profitability. In particular, specific populations like fresh cows, dry cows and first lactation cows need properly balanced feed to maintain their health and body condition.
To Improve feed efficiency, dairy farmers must strike a balance between nutrition and costs.
Adjusting feed formulas for cows per lactation stage is a common practice today. With the increasing cost of high quality feed and the use of lower cost substitutes, farmers must monitor their animals' body condition (energy balance) and health (metabolic problems) to prevent damages.
"Dairy managers should monitor changes in feed efficiency as feeding and management changes are implemented on their farms. The availability of computer-based corrected values will allow for accurate comparisons between groups, herds, and feeding/management changes." Michael F. Hutjens, University of Illinois
Afimilk's feed efficiency products
AfiFarm addresses different aspects of feed monitoring and control. The system evaluates the body condition of each animal and alerts users regarding feed deficits at the group and herd level.
Feed monitoring, based on AfiLab's online milk component analysis, calculates the fat level and fat/protein ratio for each animal, and indicates:
- SARA (Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis) – based on accepted levels of low fat per group of animals (download the SARA: Another sensible farm management solution note.)
- Ketosis – energy intake deficit indicated by increase in fat/protein ratio in the milk (download the Ketosis: Early detection and treatment solution note. Watch the Ketosis video.)
- Solids – decrease in solids production at the group/herd level
Alerts regarding poor quality feed allow dairy managers to solve feed problems early and avoid substantial damages.
Individual feed module – AfiFarm offers an individual cow feed attribution control system, AfiFeed, used mostly in a pasture environment. AfiFeed enables automatic adjustments in feed supplements for cows according to their individual nutritional needs, thus enhancing production potential.
From Our Users
"We've come to the conclusion that feeding is the basis. If we can feed the cows properly, keep them on the correct weight curve, we get maximum benefit. What Afimilk has done for us is allow us to calculate and determine the cow's ideal body weight, check her body weight through her lactation and make adjustments automatically to her feeding to keep her on the correct weight curve, at the same time feeding her for production." Nigel Lok, Robhoek Farm, South Africa
SARA – field studies in the United States have indicated that up to 19% of early lactation cows, as well as 26% of mid-lactation cows suffer from Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis (Garret et al., 1997).
The average cost per affected cow is estimated at $1.12 (U.S.) per day (Enemark, 2009).
Ketosis - 17% of the animal in any USA dairy suffer from early and mid-lactation ketosis. The cost of damages is estimated at 205-240 kg milk per case (Guard, 2008).