Dairy Farmers Learn to Produce Cheap Animal Feed


Farmers affiliated to the Rhymesfield Dairy Cooperative were recently taught how to produce cheap animal feed, which could decrease overall production cost by at least 50 per cent and result in a 25 per cent reduction in the price of milk.
At a three-day training session held recently in Clarendon, the farmers were introduced to the Total Mixed Ration (TMR) feed-production process, which is a mixture of grass, molasses, wheat middling, brewer’s grain, cracked corn, citrus pulp and mineral mix.
The training was coordinated by the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) and according to Gary Stephens, Agribusiness Development Officer, the use of TMR would cut down on the cost of commercially produced feed.
Animal nutritionist, Dr. Paul Jennings, who conducted the sessions, told JIS News that the TMR system has been in place for a number of years and was developed in the United States.
“It is really a means of getting into cows, material that they would not normally find palatable and it allows you therefore to make more effective utilisation of various feed resources,” he said.
The government has long promoted the use of TMR as a means of reducing production cost to dairy farmers.
Last March, Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, handed over equipment valued at about $4.6 million to the Rhymesfield Dairy Cooperative, to assist in the production of fodder.
The equipment, which included two tractors, two forage carts, one fertilizer spreader and one harvester, was provided through grant funding from the ASSP as part of a $7.7 million assistance package to the Rhymesfield Dairy Cooperative.
Also included in the package, was a $2.3 million irrigation system, which is being used in the production of king grass. The irrigation system was set up last June.
Derrick Walker, member of the Dairy Cooperative and Chairman of the Fodder Committee, told JIS News that the first crop of grass was harvested recently, and the Cooperative had plans to sell the grass to its members, who would manually mix the TMR on their farms, as well as plant their own grass.
During the training sessions, the farmers learnt how to group and feed the cattle based on their stages of development – early, mid or late lactation – and how to mix the TMR based on the state of the animal.They also learnt proper dairy cattle nutrition, the proper use of equipment and participated in practical demonstration sessions.
The Rhymesfield Dairy Cooperative was established in 1968 and now has approximately 21 members.

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