Increased sustainability in dairy production through improved feed efficiency

Last changed: 16 February 2024

Feed efficient cows digest feed more efficiently and use the marketable energy better for maintenance needs and production. Carbon dioxide in the exhaled air of cattle has been shown to be a good gauge of feed efficiency and can be measured with a device called GreenFeed. Having healthy animals is an important part of achieving high feed efficiency. There is a correlation between udder health (measured as cell count) and feed efficiency. High cell counts thus result in poorer feed efficiency, reduced animal health and increased methane emissions.

The researchers in this project have evaluated different methods to assess which cows are most efficient at converting feed into milk. There is great variation between cows and it depends on the cows' feed digestion. The research, which has been led by Professor Pekka Huhtanen, is based on a large base.

The researchers analyzed data from measurements in so-called respiration chambers with data from a total of 841 cows from three different institutions in Northern Ireland, Denmark and Finland. From this, the researchers were able to confirm that the difference in feed efficiency between the cows is hereditary.

– Efficient cows digested feed more efficiently and used marketable energy better for maintenance and production, says Professor Pekka Huhtanen.

Read more on the Swedish version of this page.

Project leader:
Mohammad Ramin
Telephone: 072- 5435462