Roughage versus concentrate: breeding on feed intake

Feed costs are more than 50% of the variable costs of dairy farming. In addition, almost half of the greenhouse gases from livestock farming are emitted during feed production.

It is therefore important to produce milk as efficiently as possible. We also see that the dairy chain's objective is to increase the percentage of protein from its own country. This may mean that the cow of the future may have to meet different requirements and needs. Handling more roughage is an example. Breeding can offer support because it contributes to a permanent change in the genetic predisposition of the animal.

What are we investigating?

By accurately estimating the feed requirement of the cow and studying the different feed components separately, the breeding value of feed intake and the new needs estimates can make an important contribution to precision feeding of the dairy cow. By investigating whether the breeding value for feed intake should be broken down into roughage and concentrates intake, it is better to respond to market demands. As more milk from its own roughage and more protein from its own bottom.

Why is this important?

Depending on the management and the needs of a farmer, he can select the best bulls in relation to his breeding goal for breeding. As a result, the cows fit in with his management, they perform optimally and there are as few losses of nutrients as possible, which benefits the environment. This innovation contributes to a reduction in feed costs on the dairy farm and also in a reduction of the environmental impact of milk production.

Which activities do we carry out?

The project is divided into three parts:

1. Breakdown of roughage intake and concentrate feed intake

  • Can we distinguish between roughage and concentrates cows?

  • Is there a difference in crowding effects between cows?

2. Better estimate of the current feed requirement

  • Are the feed requirements of cows still in line with the current guidelines?

  • What is the influence of feed requirements on the management of the farmer?

3. Integrate the results of steps 1 and 2 into the breeding value of feed intake

  • Insight into the results and the effects at bull level.

  • Identify opportunities for introducing this breeding value and added value for the livestock farmer.