Now is the time to decide how to maximise the value of any home-grown cereals post-harvest. Alkagrain offers the ideal solution, according to FiveF.
With dairy farmers striving to cut feed bills and make their systems as efficient as possible, nutritionist Malcolm Graham suggests using Alkagrain could be a cost effective option, which will help make the most of homegrown cereals.
And, he says, when using home-grown grain, Alkagrain – the leading application for Home n’ Dry Alka feeding technology – is likely to cost around £125 per tonne fed this season, the lowest price for 10 years.
Mr Graham says: “Using own-grown feeds with the Alkagrain system can create the highest quality feeds and reduce the cost per tonne of equivalent purchased feeds by at least £40 per tonne.
“But there are many other benefits from using alkalised, high starch cereal-based feeds, either grown on the farm or bought in,” he adds.
According to Mr Graham, Alkalised feeds can help increase feed intake by between 5-10% when fed at effective levels. That increase allows the diet to be either more powerful – to create higher performance – or contain a higher proportion of forage, to help reduce the purchased feed cost.
Malcolm Graham says alkalised feeds can help increase feed intake by between 5-10% when fed at effective levels.
“Even with the current low milk prices, this increase in dry matter intake would create about 2-2.5 litres of milk in dairy cows, worth £150-180 per cow. For a beef finisher, in 100 days, this increased feed intake is worth £30-£40 per head at current prices,” he explains.
From a cost saving perspective, Mr Graham says the 1kg per cow DMI could alternatively be used to replace concentrates with forage, saving 300kg of concentrates per cow (worth about £60) for dairy cows. For beef cattle, meanwhile, 100 days on a lower concentrate and higher forage ration, would save about 100kg or £20 per head.
“Alkagrain can allow grain to be fed at up to three times the normal level, without causing any problems for the cow, which could mean an increase in the amount of total food used per cow that is either grown on the farm or sourced as simple high quality grain, to 65-80% of the diet. This compares to 45-55% on conventional systems.”
Mr Graham notes recent onfarm evaluations have shown a surge in interest in Alkalised systems based on wheat, where Alkagrain, Alkastraw and the resurgent interest in Alkalage wholecrop, means farmers can grow and utilise much more feed from their land.
“At the same time, they are able to reduce their exposure to the risks of growing maize, improve pasture and grass output and quality, through a better rotation and reseed plan. It will also satisfy the greening requirements on having multiple crops in the rotation, and produce feeds which are drier and much less acidic.
“Using Alkalised systems can help farmers control their production costs through improved feeds and diets,” adds Mr Graham.
Using Alkagrain for the past six years has allowed Cornwall-based dairy farmer, Neil Parkhouse, to cut feed costs and concentrate on making as much milk from forage as possible.
Mr Parkhouse farms 587 hectares (1,450 acres) alongside his wife Joanne, sister Anita and father Derek, and is currently milking 600 cows, with a further 420 youngstock and a similar number of dairy-bred beef animals.
They grow 162-202 hectares (400-500 acres) of wheat and barley, in rotation with maize and grass, but despite this, yield objectives meant they previously still relied significantly on boughtin feeds.
“We tried out Alkalage, AlkabupHa and Alkagrain, and we found that Alkagrain suited our system best. For us, that one product covers several bases – it allows us to maximise the amount we can feed, without causing any negative side-effects, and saves money as we no longer need a mycotoxin binder. Now, almost 70% of the dry matter fed comes from the farm as forage or grain,” says Mr Parkhouse.
The current diet for the milking cows includes grass silage, maize, Alkagrain, rape, soya, minerals and Energizer RP-10, and from that, they are producing an average yield of 11,000kg. Alkagrain is currently fed at 5kg, although they have used as much as 9kg successfully in the diet.
“We’ve also found the making process straightforward and very labour-efficient – we can now process about 60 tonnes an hour – and there is very low wastage. We mix the grain whole with Home n’ Dry (35kg of Home n’ Dry per tonne of grain, to get a bit extra protein and alkalinity) and then crush during the winter as we need it, which has also reduced drying costs.
“Because of its alkalinity, we’ve discovered rodents are not keen on the Alkagrain, which is obviously another plus point for us.”
The Parkhouse family have their own crimper, which they say assists in lowering the workload, plus they can hire it out when they are not using it themselves, which helps justify its cost.
“It’s more important than ever for all aspects of dairy businesses to be as efficient as possible, and using Alkagrain has helped us achieve that objective by allowing us to make the most of low-cost, home-grown produce,” adds Mr Parkhouse.