‘Improved feed efficiency cuts my feed costs by €60,000’

category Efficiency

CRV recently installed 40 roughage intake control feeders at Wietse Duursma’s dairy farm in Bellingwolde. These feeders measure the individual feed intake of the herd of 300 dairy cows. The measurements are vitally important in revealing the genetic variation in feed efficiency and further improving breeding values.

‘By working toward better feed efficiency, I can cut my feed costs by 2 cents per kilo of milk in the long term’, says Duursma. ‘As I supply three million kilos of milk every year, that converts to a financial gain of € 60,000.’ Duursma also mentions the positive benefit that more efficient utilization of the feed ration has on the environment, as it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses up fewer scarce resources. ’So, it’s a win-win situation all round.’

Leading the way in breeding for efficiency

CRV started measuring the individual feed intake of herds at the Alders family farm in Overloon in July 2017, followed by the van Gastel family in Nispen. More than a month ago measurements started at the Vroege family in Dalen and now the Duursma farm has joined the initiative. In the meantime, 30 feeders have been installed on the Meerkerk dairy farm in Emmer-Compascuum for their herd of 200. This brings the total to five farms where CRV is currently collecting feed intake data and gives CRV a leading position in breeding for efficiency.

CRV invests € 2 million in data collection

As a breeding specialist at CRV, Pieter van Goor is supervising data collection at the five farms. The total amount involved in the project exceeds €2 million. ‘There is no breeding organisation in the world that is investing on this scale in collecting feed intake data,’ according to van Goor. CRV already has data from test farms but needs a greater volume of data that is available faster to increase the reliability of breeding values. ‘Our ambition is to enable farmers to reduce their feed costs by 10% purely by breeding.’ The breeding specialist notes that the most efficient cows perform well in all areas. ‘They have the highest production, are not too heavy and very importantly: they utilise both concentrates and roughage with the greatest efficiency.’

Wealth of valuable data

Data collection on the five farms is not just limited to statistics on feed. The feed intake behaviour, milk production, water consumption and weight are also registered. Van Goor: ‘And claw health data and other health and fertility data is also available. This wealth of data allows us to use targeted breeding to select cows that offer good longevity, great health and produce milk efficiently.’

Watch a film of the feeders on the Duursma farm on our Dutch Twitter page or click on the picture below.