High digestibility = higher feed intake

A high digestibility grass provides a higher feed intake, more milk in the tank and at the same time you can save on expensive purchased feed supplement.

Livestock Consultant Niels Martin Nielsen, Agro Limfjord in Denmark, has calculated what it means for milk yield and the balance per cow when feeding grass with respectively 72 and 80% digestibility of organic matter.

Feed intake per cow per day Digestibility (organic matter) in grass silage
Feed intake per cow per day Digestibility (organic matter) in grass silage
72% 80%
Feeding level, kg drymatter 20.9 21.5
Grass silage, kg drymatter 6.0 7.3
Maize silage, kg drymatter 6.3 6.3
Concentrate, kg drymatter 13.5 11.5
Feeding costs, total, € 5.19 4.97
Expected milk yield, kg Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) 39.2 40.0
Margin, € 4.81 5.23

A high digestibility of organic matter in grass enables the cows to have a higher feed intake which again results in more milk and reduced costs for bought-in concentrate. The table shows what the impact is on milk yield and the margin per cow per day when feeding with grass where the DOM is 72% and 80% resp. The milk price used is €0.25 per kg ECM and the production price of grass and maize is resp. €0.20 and €0.17 per kg DM.

By increasing the DOM in grass with 8%-points, the milk yield is increased with 0.8 kg ECM per cow per day, when the grass – as in this case – is around 25% of the total feed ratio.

Conclusion: Replacing poor grass silage with some having 8 %-units higher digestibility increases milk yield with 0.8 kg and farmer’s income with €0.4 per cow per day.

Overall, good pasture quality gives more milk in the tank and saves you purchase of supplementary feed. In other words: There is money in finding the right grass mixture, where you can reap a high yield of digestible grass. DLF varieties with high digestibility of the cell walls is a good starting point for this - look for the Fiber Energy, this is your guarantee for sound and sustainable varieties.