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Rationing The Suckler Cow For Improved Efficiency

1 November 2017

At a recent FAS event at Barony College, Dumfries, farmers saw that by improving suckler cow nutrition they can improve efficiency in many aspects of their business including animal welfare, carbon footprint and profit.

Delegates were provided with a presentation on essential knowledge needed when looking at improving efficiency when feeding cattle.  This included nutrition basics, feed terminology, interpreting silage analysis and body condition score a copy of which can be seen here.  It was then discussed, based on this knowledge, how we can manage cows in the build up to spring calving.

Once familiarised with this information delegates were then given the opportunity to create a ration, using rationing programme FeedByte, for their own cows using their own silage analysis with help from consultants.  This was an insight into the complexity and effort that goes into creating rations for livestock and the importance of analysing silage to create a balanced diet.  All scenarios were discussed within the group and delegates were given a pack with the information covered to take home.

Key take home messages were:

  • Get your forage analysed, know what you’ve got (quality & quantity)
  • Use this information to plan feeding to make the most from your forages and buy in the best matched supplementary feeds
  • Prioritise animals & match what you’ve got to those that need it mostFarming For a Better Climate logo
  • Group cows if possible and feed according to condition (and re-assess cows half way through winter) to prevent cows losing/gaining excessive condition over winter

Careful feeding management will help your farm business productivity and can help with profitability.  For additional ways to improve your farm business profitability please see our Farming For a Better Climate webpage.


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Carbon Footprinting in the Beef Herd: A practical guide
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Livestock nutrition: A practical guide
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Improving shed ventilation for the beef herd: A practical guide
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Silage testing Interpreting the results
Silage testing Interpreting the results: A practical guide
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