Increased milk yield with our NutriONics rationing programme

18 Jun 2021

Dumfries dairy farmer Willie Purdie has recorded his highest ever milk yields following a re-design of this ration using our new NutriONics rationing programme.

Willie, of Inglestonford Farm, New Abbey, saw daily yields from his 200-head herd increase by more than 500 litres after the new ration was introduced in November 2020.


The new winter ration included Harbro MaizeMilk 18 Nuts – a bespoke blend including Maxammon cereals – along with Alkacid and molasses.

It was formulated by our Dairy Sales Manager, Stuart Cameron, who created a diet to meet the cows’ nutritional requirements and maximise performance at the same time as complementing the farm’s forage and other feedstuffs.

Willie, who has a constituent-based contract with First Milk, said: “Our winter diet was introduced at the start of November and we saw an improvement in yield immediately. We’re achieving more litres than we’ve usually seen, with around 500 litres on average more every day compared to last year, which certainly adds up across the whole herd over a period of time. This has equated to an increase of around three litres/cow/day on average.

“This increase in yield has been maintained throughout the winter months and we’ve kept our butterfat and protein percentages at the required levels throughout as well. We’ve seen no negative health implications from the increase in production, including no negative impact on fertility.”

The MaizeMilk 18 Nuts were fed in the milking parlour and the blend was mixed in the wagon with grass silage, wholecrop, Alkacid and molasses. This was fed as a part mixed ration (PMR) to both high and low milking groups.

Willie added: “Stuart Cameron and Maimie Sloan, Harbro’s Dairy Technical Nutritionist, have worked closely with us throughout and the thing we’ve found really interesting is that the cows have milked exactly as predicted, proving the accuracy of the data we’re getting from the programme.

“I am happy that I’ve seen how closely we can control, monitor and improve our performance.”


NutriONics Rationing programme – how does it work?

We launched our NutriONics Rationing programme, the first of its kind in the UK back in the winter of 2020. Unlike other tools used to create diets, this dynamic rationing programme and forage analysis system takes into account how individual components interact with each other inside the cow, in particular considering effective energy and protein supply in a fully integrated approach.

It enables for the creation of more efficient and cost-effective diets, providing an accurate measurement of the energy available from the end products of fermentation and digestion (Dynamic Net Energy – DyNE). 

DyNE is nutritionally balanced with NutriOpt Digestible Intestinal Protein (NDIP) which is a measurement of the protein that is metabolically available to the cow.

Stuart Cameron explains the different ways in which the system is already being used on-farm: “We’re using it not only to create whole diets that complement a farm’s existing feedstuffs and forage, but we’re also using the data generated to create bespoke dairy meals and blends to achieve the production, health and fertility aims of the farms we work with.”

Tried and tested

This new way of rationing is initially being rolled out to our dairy customers, but it is hoped that it will be used more widely throughout the company and with other species in the near future.

Our R&D department is currently putting the programme through its paces in a series of trials with cows from a variety of systems to test its effectiveness and to better understand the potential that it offers. These are currently still in progress but early results show that both diets and cows are performing well.

The importance of data

Maimie Sloan has been instrumental in the launch of the programme, both in its development and in training the team how to use it. She told us: “our NutriONics Rationing programme gives us a much more accurate method of rationing the cows we feed but in order to fully realise the potential of this, it is essential that we also have accurate performance data as to how the cows are performing on farm.”

“Along with the nutritional information we’re getting from the rationing programme, we’re continually studying cow performance, using existing data from CIS and NMR milk recording data through InterHerd+, along with our Harbro Milk Monitor to see exactly how the cows are performing. Production KPIs are monitored in detail as we aim to optimise yield and milk compositional value to meet milk contract requirements as cost effectively as possible. This is completed whilst not forgetting the essential health and fertility parameters of the herd”

The rationing programme is part of our package of products and services tailored to improving dairy farm performance. It is offered free of charge to all our dairy customers.


Find out how you can improve your dairy performance with our NutriONics rationing programme:



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