Project code: D-05-98
Team and Leader FJ Gordon, CS Mayne, and DC Patterson
Organisations involved Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland
Background and Summary
In view of the benefits of increasing yield per cow on improved feed efficiency and reduced fixed costs per litre of milk there is continued interest in increasing the genetic merit of the National dairy herd. Recent research at Hillsborough has however demonstrated that higher milk outputs (even with higher genetic merit animals) can only be sustained by increasing feed nutrient intake.
Achieving this objective is particularly difficult within grassland based systems. It is therefore vital that as the genetic merit of the National herd increases cost effective methods of feeding cows are explored.
These aspects have been explored in a series of short term studies at Hillsborough but there is now a need to examine these within a long term systems based approach. Only by this method can we be assured of obtaining the long term answers which are so important for the industry. The present proposal will therefore examine the long term effects (over 3 years) of 4 production systems, which deliver, increased nutrient intakes by very different strategies. These range from high quality grass/silage systems with minimal concentrate input through to moderate grass systems with the use of higher concentrate inputs.
Producers will receive full system information (performance and economics) for the 3 years. This will provide answers to a problem which will become of increasing importance to farmers over the next 5 years. This study will also have implications for animal health and welfare.
See the final report for this project here.