Harbro Launches Rumen-Friendly Nutrition Dairy Initiative at Agri-Scot

15 Nov 2017

AgriScot sees the launch of our Rumen Friendly Nutrition initiative for dairy farmers. 

The initiative looks to deliver long term sustainable profit for dairy customers in conjunction with the well-being of the cow. Speaking at the Royal Highland Centre, Harbro’s Head of Rumen Friendly Nutrition, Mike Philips, explained some of the key performance indicators that are part of the approach including rumen rate and why rumen should be at the heart of dairy farm efficiency.

The Rumen-Friendly Nutrition initiative is based on Harbro’s research that shows how creating a diet for dairy cows that is rumen friendly, or low in acid loading, in turn leads to healthy milk production through better herd health. Mr Philips says,

“Farmers are always being asked to be more efficient, and the dairy industry, between technology and market conditions, has achieved great efficiency, but the challenge is how does the dairy sector move forward and continue to progress? Measuring rumen rate is so much more than look at producing the most milk for the least dry matter input. The correct rumen rate reduces problems with fertility, health and lactation, and every 0.1 improvement in rumen rate is potentially worth 60p per cow per day. That is equivalent to £39,420 for the average UK 180 cow herd.”

Beyond the simple measurement of cow efficiency and how many litres she can produce per kilo of dry matter intake, Harbro’s research shows that the rumen rate affects other key performance indicators. If rumen rate is too high, whilst milk is produced cheaply, this may be at the detriment of key indicators, as cows in early lactation milking off their back will impact on fertility and cow health. If rumen rate is too low then cows with a high average of days in milk will be gaining excess body condition, meaning they are less economically viable and potentially more prone to metabolic problems in their lactation.

 As every unit is different, Harbro dairy specialists work with farmers to discover where there are areas for improvement. Data is collated from various sources including Harbro Milk Monitor, Keenan In-Touch, milking parlour and robotic software, and milk recording information. This data is used to assess the current situation on farm and what measures can be implemented to improve performance and ultimately profitability. Mr Philips emphasises,

 “Circumstances are different on every farm, but measuring rumen rate is a valuable assessment which will allow feeding regimes to be adapted to ensure consistent herd health and productivity.”

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