COUNTING the direct cost of a fall in milk production on farm through a nutritional inefficiency or imbalance is relatively easy to do, but it is astonishing in how much it can equate to over just short periods of time.

Two or three examples include Farm A, which over a six-week period changed feed company and saw a £11,000 loss, with milk yields on his 250-cow robotic herd dipping from 36.5 litres per cow and feeding rates increased as well, with the root of the problem being overfeeding of concentrates and the wrong type of concentrates.

This has now been identified and corrected, with yields climbing and losses stopped.

Farm B, again a robotic farm with about 250 cows, is maintaining a yield of 38 to 40kg per cow per day, but through metabolic profiling has recently improved feed efficiency in conjunction with its feed company.

Concentrate usage has dropped by 3kg/cow/day, with the measured approach over time being to tweak ‘the biological creature’ (aka the dairy cow) - subsequently making the cow more efficient and reducing feed costs.

The third example of feed and rationing problem solving was the dramatic drop of a farmer in a conventional parlour set-up losing three litres of milk a day with his existing feeding regime.

Investigations with a sieving of the muck (which should have shown 60 per cent of the residue in the bottom two sieves) exposed pure digestion performance.

This was remedied with a three-pronged approach; firstly the blended product added to the TMR was replaced with a meal that ensured less sorting of the feed by the cow, secondly protected fats were added to the feed, and then more sugars were added.

Six weeks later there was improved digestion, less longer undigested fibre in the muck, a increase of three litres per cow per days milk, improved body condition score of the herd, higher butterfats and the three litres of milk per cow per day equated to nearly £200 per day in additional milk, with the extra costs being a molasses bin and its contents.

All three of these on-farm nutritional challenges and subsequent solutions can be ascribed to a new concept and team launched at Agriscot by the family-owned Scottish-based animal feed company Davidsons - Dairy Tech.

Three of their next generation sales staff, Fraser MacNicol, Sam Hodgson and James Bendle, are leading the way with this new initiative, which is based on them becoming an integral and crucial part of the on farm advisory team on any dairy farms within the companies serviced area.

That area extends across Scotland and into the North-East and North-West, as the company has its own fleet of more than 30 wagons covering 3.5 million kilometres per year, delivering 95 per cent of orders within 24 hours of placement, and servicing any farm that a wagon can be there and back to within the day from its centre at Shotts, in central Scotland.

This includes virtually all of Scotland and down into Durham, Northumberland and across Cumbria.

For an animal feed company whose ethos is grounded in customer service and building partnerships with customers and suppliers, to ensure its long-term survival both over the last 40 years and looking to the future, this investment in training is seen as a means by which to add value to its 3,000-plus ruminant customers, and more specifically the dairy farmers.

The three Dairy Techs - Fraser, Sam and James - all have dairying connections and a deep interest. For example, Sam has committed to forging a career in dairying but did not want to milk cows like his grandfather (Robin Flintoft from Clifton Castle near Masham) and his father Stephen Hodgson (who was cowman at Webster’s at Hackforth for many years and now works with the Middletons at Roomer Farm near Masham in North Yorkshire).

Having undergone extensive training the trio have been exposed to all parlour and automated milking system software, working closely with DeLaval, Fullwood, Lely and GEA to ensure they have an unrivalled experience of all technologies so they can quickly and efficiently be a new second pair of eyes within any farm they are welcomed to, whether that be existing Davidsons customers or new clients.

Their approach is to walk among the stock and use visual stockmanship in the first instance, to then gather information and combine this with data from the farm whether that be remote data download from automated systems or milk records, and then combine all this together to suggest measured changes to feeding which can deliver tangible results.

The new Dairy Tech team is driven by the changing market, with a smaller number of larger farms which needs all partnerships to deliver actual results making them an integral part of the business. Similar to the concept of Genus breeding’s RMS scheme for reproductive efficiency on farm, Davidsons feeds are launching Dairy Tech in a bid to make the team something the farm business cannot do without.