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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #8

A saved feed index based on real-life feed intake data

Feed has an enormous impact on your bottom line, the environment, and animal welfare. It is indeed the most significant variable cost on most dairy farms.

Two cows need different amounts of feed to produce the same levels of milk and solids.  Some cows are better at turning feed into meat and milk. Others are less feed-efficient, as they use too much feed for maintenance.

With the Saved Feed Index in the Nordic Total Merit Index (NTM), you can find out how efficient a cow is at turning feed into milk.

The Saved Feed Index considers two components to measure feed efficiency:

  • Maintenance measures how much energy a cow uses due to her body size. Heavier cows use more energy than smaller ones to maintain the same production level.
  • Metabolic efficiency measures how efficiently the cow converts feed energy in her body. This is energy used, for instance, to support milk production.
VikingJersey cow

Real-life data for individual cow’s feed intake

The Saved Feed Index is based on data from the Cattle Feed Intake System (CFIT). This patented, artificial intelligence-based solution uses 3D cameras and deep learning to measure individual cows’ feed intake in their natural environment 24/7.

Data is collected from cows in commercial herds throughout their full lactations without disturbing their daily routines and natural behaviour. We focus on collecting data for individual cows' feed intake over their lifetime that is comparable across breeds and herds.

CFIT uses 3D cameras and artificial intelligence to identify each cow, estimate their weight, and quantify how much they eat. The system identifies each cow from pictures of their back based on their distinct pattern of colours and body shape.

To quantify how much each cow eats, the cameras take pictures of the surface of the feed – one before the cow goes to the feeding table and one after she leaves.

By subtracting the two images, we can quantify the amount of feed that the cow consumes at every meal, 24/7, year-round.

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Saved feeed index NTM

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