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2019 TMR Feed Trial based on a recipe from an Israeli feed expert

Snorri Sigurdsson
Head of China-Denmark Milk Technology Cooperation Centre (CDMTCC)
A Joint Venture between Arla Foods & Mengniu Dairy

In early June we finally published our report on the TMR feed trial conducted last year where we compared two different TMR recipe strategies.
The first one was the classical Chinese TMR feeding method that required farms to use a lot of imported feed. The other method was based on a recipe from an Israeli feed expert that included more locally produced feed and not as much imported feed.

1 Preface

There is a long tradition of feeding cows at Chinese dairy farms with imported feed that relates to decades of lack of access to quality local options for dairy cows. The result has been high feed costs.
Today the situation is different as in some provinces with dairy farms can grow their own or buy locally produced feed.
Despite this, the tradition has been difficult to change and many farms still use imported feed even though they can buy locally.
To shed light on this matter, CDMTCC has, in cooperation with China Modern Dairy Holdings Ltd. (CMD) and Phibro Animal Health Corporation, conducted a trial to investigate and compare known local feed recipe for TMR and a recipe based on more locally sourced feed. The end goal was to reduce the feeding cost per kg/milk.
The setup of the trial was conducted by CDMTCC in cooperation with the above mentioned partners.
The trial recipe was made by Israeli feed expert Mr. Oren Ben Josef and the trial was supervised by CDM feed expert Dr. Zhao Zunyang.

2 Trial Design

400 cows were selected for the trial and divided into two (2) as comparable groups as possible:
I. The first group should continue to get standard TMR feed at the farm, based on a normal local recipe that should not change over the time of the trial.

II. The other group got the new trial recipe.

The main major difference between the two recipes was the much higher portion of locally produced corn silage in the trial recipe vs. the benchmark recipe plus the use of extra feed additives in the trial recipe, see Table 1.
The calculated DM in the TMR for the Control group was 50.0 and 46.7% in the trial group.
The calculated feed price for the trial recipe was based on feed prices in March 2019.
As can be seen, the difference in feed price for the two recipes per kg. DM was 0.115 RMB per kg. DM, making the trial recipe 4.4% cheaper than the benchmarking recipe.
Both groups where milked 3X daily at the same time and housed in the same barn with comparable facilities, environment and space.
The two groups participated in the trial for eight weeks. The feed amount and pushout was collected daily, along with total group milk production.
12 times over the trial period, daily milk yield data was collected for individual cows participating in the trial.

Table 1. Difference between the two recipes

Raw material type % difference, trial vs. control

Beer Pulp
Beet Pulp
By-Pass fat
Calcium Carbonate
Canola Meal
Corn Gluten feed
Corn Silage
Cotton Seed
Extruded Soybean
Flaked corn
Grounded Corn
Oat Hay*
S Bi Carbo
Soybean meal
Sugar Molasses -0,2
Wheat Grain

* Imported and locally produced combined

3 Results and Discussion

The production of the group consuming the trial recipe dropped by 3.9 kg over the trial period and the control group dropped 6 kg in yield, see Table 2.
This drop in yield by the control group was a bit higher than expected, as expected fall in yield per 10 days after 160 DIM was 0.8 kg, see Figure 1.
The bigger drop in yield by the control group may be explained by environmental issues caused by warm weather but in the trial recipe for group #38 a feed additive to help cows fight heat stress might have helped them to lose less yield towards the end of the trial period.
As stated before, the feed cost for the trial recipe per kg/DM was 0.115 RMB less than for the traditional TMR, but to really benchmark prices the net return of each cow needed to be calculated.
In this trial the theoretical milk price of 3.75 RMB/kg of milk was used, giving a net profit of each trial cow (from group #38) of 82.0 RMB and a net profit of each control cow of 82.4 RMB.
As can be seen the difference is quite small and minor changes can shift this difference up or down, as seen in Table 3.

Table 2. Production data, average, Kg

Start yield, Kg End yield, Kg Difference, Kg
Trial group (#38) 39,5 3,56 -3.9
Control group (#46) 42,4 36,4 -6.0
Difference #38 / #46 + 2,9 +0.8 -2.1

Table 3. Feed cost/ Kg. produced milk*, RMB/kg

Start of trial End of trial Average all
trial period
Trial group (#38) 1.56 1.83 1.63
Control group (#46) 1.64 1.75 1.71
Difference #38 / #46 + 0.8 -0.8 +0.08

* Based on all DMI data for all cows and milk yield data for cows in trial after data cleaning

Figure 1. Development of the milk production by 12 measurements over the trial period for both groups

Development of daily milk production Kg./day (average)

4 Conclusion

Our results and findings show that it is possible to get more or less the same results by using the method based on more locally produced feed with a higher portion of corn silage. It can be stated that the trial recipe did work according to the theory and was cheaper than the traditionally used recipe. Somewhat proof of that is the lower total drop in milk by the trial group than the control group over the eight week period.
With this in mind it can be concluded that it is likely that it is possible to save feed cost at Chinese dairy farms, without losing yield, by changing the classic recipe typically used in China to a TMR recipe more like the one used in this trial with more emphasis on locally sourced roughage with the necessary feed additives to support the different TMR feed for the dairy cows.

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