Farm innovation series urges farmers to fine-tune rations
What if we could save $20 per ton on feed costs annually, gain more milk per pound of feed, increase forage yields by 10 percent and achieve better fertility and lower mortality? That was the challenge proposed today to farmers as Alltech’s Farm Innovation Series kicked off in St. Henry, Ohio. The first of nine stops on the 2014 tour schedule, Alltech partnered with AGCO, Big Ass Fans and Farm Credit to discuss opportunities for maximizing feed efficiency, increasing crop yield and improving overall operation profitability.
“The future of farming is upon us and we must feed nine billion mouths by 2050,” said Billy Frey, senior vice president for Alltech Ag Network as he opened the program. “In order to meet this goal, farmers must not think of themselves as producers, but agricultural entrepreneurs that are ready to accept the upcoming challenges, engage and create.”
Alltech’s first annual Farm Innovation Series from March 7- 21 is expected to draw more than 1,000 attendees. The 2014 program, “What If?” features seven presentations highlighting the latest developments in crop science, ration balancing, the 2013 harvest analysis, finance and future growth, animal environment and husbandry, agricultural machinery and on-farm support services for improving cow comfort, milk production and parlor efficiency.
Robbie Walker, general manager of Alltech Crop Science, presented the latest data on how improved crop quality can lead to higher nutritional value in feed and forages and how increased energy per acre can result in more milk and daily live weight gain.
“One apple today has 50 percent of the nutrients compared to 50 years ago. To receive the same amount of Vitamin A as my grandfather did 50 years ago by eating one orange, I would need to eat eight,” Walker said. “Our foods have lost considerable amounts of nutrients…what about grains and forages? We target maximum tons of silage from every acre of land, when we should be considering the nutritive value and quality of that ton of silage, or better yet how to maximize the tons of protein, energy and fiber produced on every acre of land.”
Amanda Gehman, research project manager at Alltech, showcased Alltech’s In-vitro Fermentation Model (IFM), a diagnostic tool that simulates rumen fermentation and evaluates the nutritive value of total mixed rations (TMR) in terms of digestibility and end-products formation. Gehman shared ration examples that had been sent into the IFM laboratory, how the results were interpreted and then the rations reformulated for optimum production, efficiency and profitability.
“Not all problems are big. Most rations just need some fine-tuning to maximize production,” Gehman said.
A new interactive tool, The Dairy Return, is also being launched during the Series. The Dairy Return assesses individual farm data while examining areas to improve financial gain, such as loss of yield to somatic cell counts, calving interval and services per conception, and the cost of culling due to failure to conceive.
“What if we could address some of the challenges farmers are facing and provide solutions for improved performance on margins?” said Gene Goenner, regional sales representative for Alltech. “The Dairy Return highlights farm potential and return on investment, while demonstrating the impact that improved performance can have on margins.”
For a complete schedule of the Series, please visit the Alltech Farm Innovation Series site. F