Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Feed efficient cows could net farmers millions

Some cows are more efficient converters of feed
Some cows are more efficient converters of feed
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

New traits such as feed efficiency could net tens of millions for dairy farmers when they are incorporated into the EBI.

Teagasc researchers have found that some cows are simply more efficient converters of feed, with the result that two cows producing identical volumes of milk solids and maintaining the same condition score, can differ in daily feed requirements by up to 5kg of drymatter (DM).

"We found that there are cows out there that consume 2.5kgDM less than the average animal, even though they are holding the same body condition scores and producing the same amount of milk.

"But there's even bigger variation out there if you go to the extremes where the difference is over 5kgDM," said Phd student Alan Hurley.

He expects a heritability for the trait of 15-20pc, which he claims is good enough to be able to progress the trait. The difference between the average animal and a very efficient converter could save the famer 0.73t of meal/cow per lactation.

"This is worth over €300 per cow and when you multiply it up, it's actually worth close to €80m annually per million milking cows, so this will be a really big deal," he said.

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