Boost dairy production and cut energy costs with DeLaval Optifeeding™

Hannover, Germany. Dairy farmers can increase production efficiency and on-farm sustainability by cutting the amount of inputs and outputs. “Our Optifeeding™ system can ensure the right balance for each cow, or group of cows, according to their stage in the lactation cycle. Guaranteeing the right nutrition results in lower feeding related costs and less environmental impact,” Fernando Mazeris, DeLaval Feeding and Herd Management Director said at the EuroTier 2010 exhibition in Hannover.

Optifeeding™ loads, cuts, mixes and distributes feed automatically, day and night. The system is part of DeLaval’s Sustainable Dairy Farming (SDF), a holistic approach to sustainability based on measuring and improving the performance of a dairy farm in terms of four interlinked pillars: animal welfare, farm profitability, environment and social responsibility.

Optifeeding™ ensures higher intake of dry matter, as fresh feed is always available for cows. Frequent feeding leads to higher feed intake, higher production and improved animal welfare. By optimizing feed preparation and delivery, farmers help cows reach their full genetic potential.

The system improves farm profitability for two reasons: firstly, automated feeding is accurate so only the exact and right amount of ingredients is loaded; and secondly well-formulated rations maximize milk volume, milk protein and butterfat. This in turn, boosts milk income and reproduction performance. Establishing a frequent feeding schedule increases feed consumption and decreases the amount of feedstuff animals leave behind, with the consequent reduction of waste losses by up to 50%.

The cow’s nutritional intake has a direct link to CO2 and methane emissions as well as to the waste they produce. Giving cows the right amount and type of feed, at the right time, helps reduce the environmental impact of milk production. Additionally, the system reduces the energy consumed in the process of mixing and distributing feedstuff compared to that needed when the task is done in a traditional way. Optifeeding™ also influences the social responsibility aspect of dairy operations. Automation reduces the labour-time needed for feeding and this makes working routines flexible, allowing dairy farmers to enjoy a freer lifestyle and to focus more on farm management tasks.

Optifeeding™ is modular and can be adapted to different herd sizes. It can also help improve cow traffic in voluntary milking systems.Optifeeding™ provides modules for the automated preparation and distribution of total mixed rations. This allows farmers to increase levels of automation step by step, to connect their existing equipment or add components as needed. The mixer does not need to be filled during peak morning or afternoon hours, and automatic filling secures the right amount of each component of the loaded rations. Fewer tractors are needed and the system can save dairy farmers as much as three hours of labour a day, every day.

“Feeding is the largest single expense on a dairy farm representing up to 50% of total running costs. Feeding tasks are, after milking, the most time-consuming activity. Getting the right amount of feed, at the right time, to the dairy herd is key to animal health, to good reproduction performance, and to farm profitability. Having an automatic system do the work can make a significant contribution in improving a farmer’s lifestyle and optimizing farm management,” Mazeris summarized.