Sian, Aled and Rhodri Davies
Cwmcowddu, Llangadog, North Carmarthenshire
Trial: Improving feeding efficiencies in the dairy herd
Cwmcowddu is a mixed farm that consists of a 120 dairy cow herd, 550 breeding ewes and a 32,000 poultry layers unit. The dairy enterprise has seen an increase in numbers over the last two years and a new 20/40 De Laval milking parlour has been installed.
Comparisons with the top third of farms on the Farm Business Survey Data show that feed use (kg/litre) and feed cost per litre is high. Working on a 7,000 litre per cow average yield, the current purchased feed use works out to be 2.7 tonnes of concentrate/cow.
This project will aim to improve feed efficiency in the dairy herd with particular focus on balancing the forages available with appropriate levels of the right bought in feeds rationed accurately. Blood metabolic profiling will be carried out on dry cows and post calving to establish that rations are meeting requirements at all stages of lactation, and monitored against milk yield and quality, cow condition and key fertility performance indicators.
Being a mixed farm with access to poultry and cattle manures to grow crops, the project will also aim to produce more home-grown feeds to improve sustainability and resilience. Depending on least cost ration formulations for this winter, replacing a bought in component of the ration will be a focus for spring 2024 by growing a new crop and decreasing the dependence on purchased feeds.
Through driving improvements in feed efficiency, the project will contribute to the Sustainable Land Management outcomes by:
- Reducing the farms greenhouse gas emissions
- Support improvement in maximising carbon storage and sequestration whilst reducing the whole-farm carbon footprint
- Maintaining and enhancing the ecosystem at Cwmcowddu
- Contributing to high herd health and welfare