Pioneering service to help farmers cut feed waste launched at UK Dairy Day

Dairy farmers across the UK can now benefit from Alltech Navigate, a new and pioneering advice service aiming to increase profit by more than 1.2p/L through reducing feed waste and optimising input utilisation.

Presenting at UK Dairy Day, Ian Leach, Alltech retail programmes lead, explained that the latest on-farm pilot study, which looked specifically at higher-efficiency UK dairy herds, found feed waste could cost as much as £216/cow/year.

“However, the reality is that this figure could be much higher depending on the system in place. For example, results from our first pilot study, which assessed a broad spectrum of dairy farms, revealed that the average waste value per cow sat at £522.44/annum,” he said.

“Based on a 200-cow herd, this could lead to financial losses of up to £105,000 over 12 months. Tackling feed waste, therefore, offers a huge opportunity to boost the bottom line. While it is a challenging area, there are practical steps that can be taken.”

How it works

The advice service, which is free to access, involves a three-step process: Assess; analyse; action.

A two-hour on-farm assessment looks at detail into the four key areas where feed waste can occur, including; in the field, during storage, at feed-out and inside the cow.

Data collected during the assessment is then analysed using the programming tool to produce percentage losses, and monetary values, to illustrate the financial pinch-points.

“Finally, a concise report, containing actionable recommendations, is generated to help farmers make well-informed strategic decisions on what steps, and potential investment, is required to help reduce feed waste and optimise input utilisation,” Leach explained.

Andrew Henderson from Independent Feeds said he believes the new advice service could be fundamental to the future of the UK dairy sector.

“Feed is the single biggest variable cost on-farm,” he said. “It’s therefore key that farmers are taking steps throughout the entire feed process to manage factors that can be controlled – such as forage quality, cow health and fertility, and feed conversion efficiency.

“This will help protect businesses from external factors such as milk contracts, market volatility and supply chain pressures.

“I’m certain that the focus the initiative brings, in terms of producing high-quality home-grown forage and encouraging effective utilisation of feed inputs to minimise waste, is key to the long-term sustainability of farms across the UK.”