A method for estimating protein autonomy in dairy cows

The surge in meal prices as well as the pressure of societal demands, even of certain specifications, place the question of protein autonomy in the taste of the day. Littoral Normand details during a webinar a calculation method to allow breeders to estimate their level of protein dependence.

On the occasion of the second edition of the week of expertise, organized by Littoral Normand, Fabien Bregeault, technical and economic referent, discusses the interest of calculate your level of protein autonomy in dairy farming.

1 – Make an inventory of the animals and their level of performance

For the dairy cows : take into account the number of animals, the average volume produced, and the average TP of the barn.

For heifers: take into account the annual number as well as the age at first calving.

2 – Determine the needs of the herd (in kg of MAT/animal/year)

Tables of values ​​make it possible to obtain this data. For example, cows from an 8,000 kg milk dairy herd with a TP of 34 have an annual requirement of 974 kg of nitrogenous matter.

MAT needs of dairy cows according to their level of production (© Littoral Normand)

3 – Estimate the MAT of the food purchased

Reference values ​​are used to determine the MAT values ​​of forages and concentrates purchased.

The difference between MAT requirements and forage and concentrate purchases at the herd level gives an idea of ​​the herd’s level of protein autonomy.

MAT value of feed purchased for dairy cow feed
MAT value of feed purchased for dairy cow feed (© Littoral Normand)

90% protein autonomy for organic herds

According to the references of Littoral Normand in 2021, the Norman herds are around 60%autonomy, compared to 54% for Holsteins. However, the variations are greater if we take into account the different production methods. Farms with milking robots generally have a lower protein autonomy, around 38%. Corn systems also appear less autonomous (41%) than grass-based systems (81%). With 90% autonomy, organic systems show the best rate.

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