News and knowhow for farmers

Feeding cows on a balanced diet improves milk production

ayrshire dairy cows

Farmers who feed their cows on a balanced diet are more likely to improve milk production than those who do not.

Good fed cows must have at least one food from each of the three sources: proteins, energy and minerals.

According to a 2012 research by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations titled “Balanced feeding for improving livestock productivity – increase in milk production and nutrient use efficiency and decrease in methane emission,” by M.R. Garg, it is estimated that the world food requirement by the year 2050 will be double that of 2010.

A significant part of this requirement will emanate from the developing countries, on account of increased human populations, disposable incomes and urbanization. For livestock products, about two-thirds of this increased demand will need to be met by improving the production efficiency of feed, both forages and concentrate feeds.

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However, in addition to shortage of feed, the research revealed that imbalanced nutrition is a major factor responsible for low livestock productivity. Balanced nutrition contributes to improving animal output as well as to reducing both the cost of production and the emission of greenhouse gases per unit of animal product

Energy foods available for smallholder farmers currently include natural grasses, Napier grass, and reject maize. Protein food includes bean straw and sweet potato vines whereas food that fills the stomach includes banana pseudostems and maize stovers.

It is important for farmers to ascertain extra diets that can improve on their livestock health and enhance milk production.

To increase energy farmers need to provide their cows with molasses, maize and wheat germ. More protein sources can be found in fodder trees (Calliandra, Sesbania & Leucaena), desmodium, poultry waste, lucerne, omena and sunflower. For minerals, dairy lick should be provided.

Examples of balanced diets to be fed on dairy cows for more milk

Diet one


 Diet two




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