The tool takes into account each individual part of the diet including forages, plus the performance of the rumen under this diet (and therefore the methane production), producing a CO2 value for the complete ration via the Optifeed rationing programme.
The Carbon Calculator then takes the CO2 value for the ration and the performance detail of the herd and converts the figure into one corrected for the fat and protein content of the milk. The result is a CO2 g/kg FPCM for each litre or kilogram of milk produced.
The carbon footprint (CFP) figure, from the FeedPrint International data, is built into the ForFarmers formulation program to produce the correct information for each manufactured product and then into ForFarmers Optifeed rationing program, along with CFP figures for all other products that go to make up a ration.
“We know that efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand,” say Alison Ewing from ForFarmers. “Which is why the carbon footprint figure for every litre of fat and protein corrected milk is so important. Milk is a high quality nutrient dense product which plays an important part in the diet of a growing world population, and just as its value is recognised by its constituents so its carbon footprint can be."
“Information about the carbon footprint of a cow’s diet is data that retailers and milk processors are increasingly asking for from farmers,” she adds. “Providing the cow with a balanced ration that drives rumen efficiency, reduces methane emissions and protects the health of the cow is crucial.
Through the Optifeed programme, ForFarmers is able to provide full information about your cows’ diet to ensure cow performance and health is balanced with its environmental impact,” she adds.
Carbon footprinting information can also help you adapt your diet to maintain performance, while reducing your environmental impact. The overall ration balance and its effect on methane will be affected by different energy sources and how/where they are broken down, which Optifeed can show us and be adjusted for. Also full ration mineralisation can be assessed accurately with soil and silage mineral results to help adjust the amount of vitamins or miner-als added to the diet, reducing wastage and your carbon footprint.
“ForFarmers has been able to build on knowledge gained from experience in carbon footprinting diets in the Netherlands, to help develop an accurate picture of the impact of a diet. When it comes to sustainability, we have also been able to benchmark what the top 10% of herds do to achieve their lower CO2 g/kg FPCM and what we can learn from them,” Alison concludes.