Maximising milk from forage must be a priority for dairy farmers this winter.

Silage analyses carried out by United Feeds is confirming a mainly positive story, regarding winter forage quality on dairy farms across Northern Ireland.

Company nutritionist Bobby Irwin takes up the story:

“Many farmers have built up ample quantities of silage over the past number of months and generally quality is quite good and above average. The exception perhaps to this statement is the first cut silage which was cut later in May.”

“We had exceptional grass growth during the early spring. As a result, some farmers taking first cuts were ensiling heavier crops that would have been at a later growth stage with higher stem content  than was the case in 2018.  This has resulted in some later first cuts with greater bulk but lower digestibility than expected.”

Bobby continued:

“Every farm situation is different too, which is why it is so important for milk producers to have their silages analysed at the start of the winter-feeding season to know where the basal diet is.”

Fibre Utilisation

The United Feeds’ nutritionist confirmed the need for dairy farmers to produce as much milk form forage as possible this winter to keep cost of production lower.

“This means ensuring that the diet for your herd is designed and balanced specifically for your farm needs and at United Feeds’ our team of nutritional advisers are equipped with the knowledge and tools to ensure this happens for all our customers.”

“Fibre is a major component of ruminant diets with forages typically containing 45% – 55% fibre. In some cases only about half of this is digestible and available for milk production, meaning there is huge potential in the form of energy that still lies ‘untapped’ within forage. “Within the United Feeds range of dairy feeds are those including the prebiotic Amaferm® which is a natural feed additive that boosts the digestibility of fibre by providing nutrients for rumen fungi growth and increased microbial enzyme activity to accelerate fibre digestion.”

 Amaferm® is a unique feed additive and the only one registered as a fibre digestion enhancer in the EU for inclusion in dairy cow diets. Extensive trials have shown that the inclusion of Amaferm® in dairy cow diets can increase fibre digestion by up to 30%. This improvement in feed efficiency results in 31% more microbial protein and 16% more volatile fatty acids (VFAs), boosting milk yields by 4.8%, the equivalent to over 1.4 litres for a cow producing 30 litres.

Improving the Value of Milk

Given the current state of local and international markets, Bobby also highlighted the need for dairy farmers to maximise the quality of the milk they produce over the coming winter months. United Feeds’ has a strong track record in delivering nutritional solutions, which meet this need.

Research and development work, specifically undertaken by the company, has confirmed the nutritional steps that can be taken to increase milk butterfat levels. This resulted in the development of the Cream Maker feed range

Demand for Cream Maker rations continues to grow following the initial development work which was fully validated courtesy of a major trial carried out at ARINI Hillsborough. The results of this work have been further endorsed by the myriad case studies undertaken on commercial dairy farms the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

Bobby continued:

“Through a combination of digestible fibre and a specific protected fat the Cream Maker range has been designed and proven to specifically promote butterfat, without compromising on yield. High quality proteins, Yea-Sacc® yeast and Amaferm® digestion enhancer help maximise feed efficiency and milk production.”

 “The reality is that Cream Maker is a proven technology, which will act consistently to improve the margins generated on local dairy farms.”


Turning to the issue of cow fertility, the United Feeds’ nutritionist confirmed the need to offer minerals that are available in their most bioavailable form.

“The mineral profile of silages can be extremely varied and ensuring that cows receive their full requirement of minerals and trace elements is crucially important when it comes to determining both milk output and fertility levels.”

“United Feeds Herd Care mineral package is unique in offering copper, manganese, zinc and selenium in a wholly organic form. No other feed mill locally offers this @Total Replacement Technology’ (TRT).”

“TRT ensures that all the minerals and trace elements contained within the ration go directly to their intended site of action within the cow. It has long been recognised that feeding minerals and trace elements in an inorganic form can lead to interactions that make them unavailable to the animal. However, the Herd Care approach to mineral nutrition has the effect of both ensuring that the cow’s health is maximised while acting to minimise the quantity of minerals excreted in the dung and urine.

Bobby concluded:

“The need for dairy farmers to improve milk output form forage alongside maintaining optimal yield, increasing milk quality and fertility is obvious and is the aspiration of every dairy farmer however making it happen can be challenging. United Feeds have the nutritional expertise, experience and desire to work alongside local dairy farmers on an individual basis to assist in meeting these goals.