Improving feed efficiency of dairy cows
Feed efficiency of dairy cows is an important performance indicator for a dairy farm. It can be used to improve sustainability and profitability of dairy farming. It is most commonly defined as the amount of protein and fat corrected milk that a dairy cow produces divided by the amount of dry matter she consumes. It is however also possible to express feed efficiency as the amount of fat and protein corrected milk produced per hectare of pastureland, per unit of nitrogen fed, per unit of energy fed or per unit of methane produced.
More efficient dairy cows may generate the same amount of milk as the rest of the herd while consuming significantly less feed. Feed efficiency in lactating cows can vary from <1.3 to >2.0 (See table 1). When comparing feed efficiency of dairy herds, it is however important to compare "like for like". In the US, fat and protein corrected milk yield is ususally calculated towards 3.5% fat, whereas in Europe it is more common to calculate to 4.0% fat.