Recently, 30 feeders were installed at Gerard Meerkerk’s farm in Emmer-Compascuum. These feeders are used by CRV to measure the individual feed intake of the 200-head herd on the dairy farm. This data is vitally important in revealing the genetic variation in feed efficiency and further improving breeding values. In the words of Gerard Meerkerk: ‘Being economical with feed has never been so important’.
Two cents lower feed costs
Meerkerk’s farm is the fifth location where feed intake is being measured by CRV. Together with four other farms in the Netherlands, he helps to provide a wealth of feed efficiency data, which CRV can use to accelerate its efforts towards achieving even higher reliability of the breeding value for feed efficiency. This is valuable input, because with a heritability of 28% the genetic predisposition for feed efficiency is high, so that dairy farmers can make rapid progress through targeted breeding. And that progress converts into cash, as the initial collected data reveals a range of 1.1 kilos of milk per kilo of dry matter to 1.8 kilos of milk per kilo of dry matter. In concrete terms, that represents a saving of two cents per kilo of milk to be achieved through breeding alone.
Fifteen years of feed efficiency
‘Feed efficiency has been an item for us for fifteen years,’ says Meerkerk at the beginning of a video recently recorded by Dutch trade magazine Veeteelt on his farm. ‘At group level we had been noting 1.5 to 1.6 kilos of milk per kilo of dry matter for years. Now CRV is going to measure individual feed intake statistics. So, I can zoom in deeper than group level and gain valuable insights. I am certain there are some inefficient herd members, but I have no idea which ones. Soon, all will be revealed!’
Meerkerk believes it is very important that CRV plays a leading role in (feed) efficiency. ‘It is becoming an increasingly interesting and more reliable calculation tool and working with it may help make a difference in the world’.
Feed Efficiency Week
CRV, together with partners – forage and feed companies, accountants and IT companies – will be organising the ‘Feed Efficiency Week’ at the five farms taking part in the feed efficiency project. Videos have been recorded on these five farms in the last few weeks. Watch the videos here.