It continues to amaze me how often I visit farms that have not calibrated their parlour feeders or checked the weigh cells on the feeder wagon. This should be part of the regular routine just like replacing the cluster liners or servicing your tractor.
Machinery parts wear over time and the accuracy of the weighing equipment will alter, which will lead to stock being under or over fed. Either of these will have a negative effect on your profitability as well as the health of the stock.
From a financial perspective, if the feeders are under weighing by 1 kg at each milking that equates to 2 kgs per day of under feeding. Assuming each kilo of concentrate has sufficient energy for two litres of milk that equates to four litres lost per day or £112 per 100 cows per day, which is £20,160 over a normal winter period.
If the weighing system is over weighing, then additional cake is being fed to animals that do not necessarily need it, e.g. late lactation cows. Rather than producing extra milk they will put on weight, which can then lead to problems in calving if the cows are over fat, which can trigger milk fever and lost milk sales/poorer fertility in the following lactation.
Very often the problem of over/under feeding comes to light when looking at dairy costings, which show the feed rate per litre and total feed being used. Dairy costings are an important management tool to monitor progress and ensure that improvements in efficiencies are being achieved. Within the Farm Consultancy Group, we can offer independent dairy costings that will reflect what is happening on farm and enable you to monitor you progress in making improvements.
The point is whatever you do, make calibrating your parlour feeders and feeder wagon part of the annual routine, at least every quarter to ensure you are feeding correctly.
To discuss this further, please contact Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG office.