An innovative Scottish livestock feed firm has teamed up with an award-winning dairy to tackle a major sustainability issue faced by British dairy farmers.
The two businesses conducted trials on an Aberdeenshire farm showing that protein-rich feedstuffs imported from overseas can be replaced with a homegrown alternative with no adverse effects on cow health, milk yield or quality.
Dairy farmers in Britain have long relied on imported soybean meal to ensure cows have the required levels of protein in their ration. Conventionally, crops grown here for livestock feed, such as forage and cereals, have fallen short of the relatively high protein requirements of high yielding dairy cows. However, a new feedstuff, developed in Scotland by long-established firm Norvite and produced from locally grown oilseed rape crops, looks set to change all of that.
Bruce and Jane Mackie, who run a multi-award-winning yogurt business based on their family dairy farm at Middleton of Rora, Peterhead, hosted a trial of the new Norvite product vs imported soybean meal for their 250 pedigree dairy cows.
“In our business, we are always focused on reducing the environmental impact of our operations. This is in line with the sustainable ethos of our natural yogurt product and boosts its appeal to wholesale buyers and consumers,” commented Jane.
“Our dairy system here at Middleton of Rora is based around grass, with cows grazing at pasture or on homegrown forage throughout the year. However, grass alone cannot meet the protein demands of a milking cow and like most dairy farms we have been reluctantly reliant on imported proteins to keep our cows healthy and our business sustainable.”
“With our drive for sustainability firmly in mind, we were delighted when Norvite approached us to trial their new NEOlac product as an alternative to imported soybean meal.”
“In trials over a five-month period, our milking cows were fed a ration containing NEOlac for a six-week trial period and the results in terms of milk yield and quality were closely monitored. This was followed by a short transition period before a further six weeks with the herd fed on a soybean meal ration and then the process was repeated.”
“We are pleased with the results. NEOlac, a product made here in Aberdeenshire from oilseed rape grown on local farms, has proven to be great for our cows. They are producing the quality milk required for our natural yogurt, every bit as well with NEOlac as with soybean meal imported from thousands of miles overseas.”
“Our yogurt loving customers often buy our natural Rora Dairy products in order to reduce food miles. It is fantastic that we can now confidently use NEOlac to reduce our livestock feed miles and boost the overall environmental sustainability of our business.”
Edward Smith, MD of Norvite and the developer of NEOlac commented:
“It has been great to work with Jane and Bruce and their high health cows at Middleton of Rora. We have extremely experienced livestock nutritionists in our team and they were able to combine their knowledge with independent experts from SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) to conduct and monitor these rigorous trials.”
“Prior to this we had every confidence in the quality and value of NEOlac, but it is hugely encouraging to have our work validated in these on-farm trials.”
“I believe NEOlac could be the answer to a conundrum faced by a great many livestock farmers throughout Scotland and Britain as a whole – namely how to lessen the unsustainable reliance on imported soybean meal and therefore improve sustainability of dairy farming.”