Nitrogen Management on Dairy Farms
About   Resources   Contact

Precision Feed Management to Reduce Excess Nitrogen on the Farm

Our studies have shown that implementing whole farm plans that integrate nutrient management across herd, crops, soils and manure components can reduce nutrient concentrations on dairy farms while increasing economic returns (Albrecht et al., 2002; Cerosaletti et al., 2003, 2004; Fox et al., 2002; Tylutki and Fox, 2000; Tylutki et al., 2002, 2004; Wang et al., 2000b). Implementing precision feeding has typically reduced N and P excretion by about 1/3, with feed costs being reduced by $50 to $150/cow (Klausner et al., 1998; Wang et al., 2000; Cerosaletti, 2003; Tylutki et al., 2004; Cerosaletti et al., 2004). Most of the feed savings have been as a result of reducing protein levels in the ration through precision feeding.

Based on data collected, and observations made in these studies, we developed priorities for management that can be used to minimize nutrient losses in the short-term (can be implemented within days or weeks) and longer-term (requiring one or more crop years, or significant management shifts to implement) (Tylutki et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2000).

Implementation of these feed management changes must be done so that milk production, growth, reproduction, and animal health are not compromised. These methods revolve around two areas.

  1. Decreasing nutrients brought on the farm by more accurately formulating rations based on farm specific animal requirements and feed content of carbohydrate and protein fractions and P.
  2. Improving the efficiency of nutrient utilization through improved feed and crop management strategies that aim to increase nutrient recycling within the farm boundary.

Our data and observations indicate that the forage and feed management practices outlined on the following Short-term Strategies and Long-term Strategies pages should be routinely implemented on dairy farms in the future.