With farmers facing the winter months with low forage stocks or high dry matter silages, an upcoming AHDB Dairy workshop – in Dumfries and Galloway on 29 November – aims to help them make best use of what they have.

Led by a Cow Signals Trainer, the event will focus on how feed management and the cow’s environment can maximise dry matter intake, and provide practical advice on improving intake through simple changes to diet, housing and management.

Chris Stockwell

Chris Stockwell, AHDB Dairy Knowledge Exchange Manager, says: “For some farmers forage stocks may be particularly tight again this year, and in a lot of cases silage will be of high dry matter which will increase sorting and higher spoilage. So we will be looking at how we can make sure the cows are getting as much as they can from the feed available.

“There are a range of factors which can affect their eating habits from the environment, including shed design and how easy food is to access, as well their diet, from what are they eating, and how regularly.

“This will be a really practical on farm session with a very experienced dairy nutritionist, Donald Brown.”

Donald, who has 27 years as a ruminant nutritionist, will take the group through those areas vital to good feed intake, including access to feed, access to lying areas where cows can ruminate, and feed management, and he will also discuss the Danish concept of compact feeding.

Compact feeding involves soaking of concentrates overnight so it becomes compacted and harder for cows to sort through, discarding bits they don’t want to eat, but which may be nutritionally beneficial.

“Adjusting the ration with more concentrates or alternative forages might seem like a simple way to ensure good feed intake,” Chris says, “but not only is it costly, it can be less efficient. At the workshop we will be advising farmers to focus on improving feed intake over the winter, through management or housing changes which cost little or nothing.”

The event will be held at Beuchan Farm, Keir, Thornhill, DG3 4DJ from 11am to 1pm on Thursday 29 November 2018. It is free to attend but farmers are encouraged to book their place so catering can be organised – lunch will be provided.

Farmers who wish to attend the meeting can book their place by contacting the AHDB KE Events Hub on 01904 771216 or ke.events@ahdb.org.uk.