A mixed farm located in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire has upped its profitability thanks to the Farming Connect ‘Our Farms’ initiative.

Cwmcowddu, run by Sian, Aled and Rhodri Davies, in collaboration with Dr Delana Davies, Farming Connect Cross Sector Manager, identified an opportunity to improve profitability.

While milk production had increased, feed costs were high. To address this, they embarked on a project to evaluate and improve feed efficiency.

The project focused on balancing the forages available with appropriate concentrate feeds and creating a precisely formulated Total Mixed Ration (TMR) for milking cows.

Grass silage formed the base of the TMR, supplemented with maize silage, a protein blend, and parlour concentrates.

Blood tests on various cow groups revealed an important finding: dry cows were struggling with energy deficiencies. In response, the dry cow ration was adjusted to include better quality forage and additional dry cow rolls in the late pregnancy period.

The farm will monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) like milk yields, feed intake, and fertility to assess progress towards improved feed efficiency.

Early signs are positive – fertility appears to have improved with the introduction of maize silage. However, to maintain milk production with the lower protein content of maize silage, a protein blend remains necessary.

As a long-term solution, Cwmcowddu plans to grow red clover for silage, aiming to reduce reliance on purchased protein sources.

This project demonstrates the value of data-driven decision making in dairy farming. By analysing feed use and cow health, the Davies family at Cwmcowddu is taking steps to optimize feed efficiency, leading to a more profitable and sustainable dairy operation.

This project aligns perfectly with the goals of the Farming Connect ‘Our Farms’ initiative by sharing valuable insights and contributing to advancements in Welsh dairy farming.

Dr. Delana Davies, Farming Connect Cross Sector Manager, emphasized the importance of blood metabolic testing and that by ensuring rations meet expectations leads to better outcomes whilst improving efficiency and lowering costs and carbon footprint.

“It is good practice to carry out blood metabolic testing once cows have settled on a least cost formulated ration at the beginning of the winter-feeding period.”

“Ensuring that the rations and cows are delivering as expected will give the best outcomes in terms of milk yield, milk quality, fertility and health, together with improving efficiency and lowering the costs and the carbon footprint of the milk produced.”