CO2 calculator tool gives clear insight into diet

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How does the CO2 calculator work?

ForFarmers Carbon Calculator tool provides farmers with a carbon footprint figure for their cows’ milk. The information 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 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.

Balancing cow health and performance with the environmental impact

“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 minerals 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.

Going circular

The Carbon (CO2) Calculator is just part of our ForFarmers ‘Going Circular’ strategy - an ambitious plan to continually improve our performance in sustainability and allow us to be a leader in the feed and livestock production industry.

By committing to Going Circular we are also able to support farmers to best optimise efficiency on farm, as well as in the total animal production chain. Going Circular uses the following framework to focus our practices within sustainability:

Framework Going Circular EN in line


Responsible sourcing is a vital part of ForFarmers’ focus on sustainability and is a key theme in its ‘Going Circular’ strategy. Considering the environmental impact of feed resources is very important to ForFarmers, as well as its customers and supply chain partners.

ForFarmers is a member of the RTRS (Roundtable on Responsible Soy), as well as helping to develop and support the FEFAC (European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation) Soy Sourcing Guidelines.

In the UK, 100% of soy used in ForFarmers ruminant feed is covered by certificates from one of the responsible soy schemes which meet FEFAC guidelines. These guidelines encourage market transmission to responsible soy and set criteria on a range of sustainability issues including deforestation.

Soy is an important source of protein for animal feed, driving efficient milk production. It’s an efficient crop that requires few inputs as it can fix atmospheric nitrogen. But it is the expansion of soya cultivation in areas of natural habitat, such as the rainforest, that is causing concern.

ForFarmers is committed to continually enhancing our soya certification. A proportion of the certificates purchased for our retail customers in the UK include a 20-year cut-off date (i.e. assuring the land on which the soya has been grown has not been deforested in the last 20 years). Purchasing these Area Mass Balance certificates helps to lower the impact of a farm’s carbon footprint. Sufficient certificates are purchased to cover the soya we source from South America.