How to boost milk from forage

With feed still one of the biggest costs facing British dairy farmers, 2021 is the year to focus on driving milk production from our best British crop: grass. Whether it is grazed, clamped or baled, cows need quality forage.

Gloucestershire dairy farmer Keith Davis believes that high-quality forage, simple management systems and matching genetics to the system are the key to increasing milk from forage. He told us what he has learned in both a grazing herd (spring block calving, once a day milking at Lydney Park) and his 11,000-litre Holsteins milked by two robots at home:

Lydney Park

  • 95% of the diet is grazed grass, grazing 9–10 months a year
  • Properly managed grass can be 12.0 MJ ME all year
  • You can graze from February to end of November – even on heavy soils
  • Rotational grazing doubles your yield of grass

Daniels Farm

  • 66% of the diet is forage of 11.8 to 12.0 ME silage
  • High milk yields possible when feeding 16–17 kgDM/cow/day of silage
  • Changed to multi-cut silage: starting late April and every four weeks
  • Average cost £90/t DM over five cuts, but saved £200/cow in concentrates
  • Increased butterfat and protein content

To find out how Keith improved his grazing efficiency and boosted milk from forage, you can listen to our podcast: Gaining more milk from forage