What does a balanced diet look like?
If you are used to using hay and grain, you might not be used to thinking of a balanced diet in these terms. Essentially, a cow's diet is primarily made up of energy, protein and fibre. It is the proportions of each that determine if the diet is nutritionally balanced.
Getting the diet right
If you are going to the effort of making up a diet that includes more than pasture only, the diet needs to be:
- Nutritionally balanced
- Get good advice
- Remember that diets can get complicated. A nutrition adviser can help you get the best results.
Rumen8 Feed Companion
The Rumen8 Feed Companion Manual (PDF, 1MB) accompanies the Rumen8 software. Rumen8 is a free nutrition software package designed for easy formulation of dairy diets, to ensure the correct balance of energy, protein, fibre, minerals and other nutritional components for Australian dairy cows at different stages of production.
A main feature of Rumen8 is its user friendliness, so that it can be used regularly by dairy farmers to adjust their dairy cow diets with periodic help from a nutritionist.
The Rumen8 Feed Companion provides a printed summary of typical nutritional values of the most common feeds used for feeding Australian dairy cows. It covers commodity feeds such as cereal grains, protein meals and by products, as well as grazed and conserved pastures and other forages. A total of over 160 feeds are included in this manual.
For more information on Rumen8 and to download Rumen8 software go to
Getting the diet right (PDF, 274KB)
High production diet guidelines. You need to decide what level of milk production you are going to feed for, as this will impact on the choices you make in planning the diet. Cows fed to achieve high daily milk production use proportionally less feed to maintain themselves. A greater percentage of feed is used to produce milk. The cost of feeding cows in a flexible feeding system that are using half the feed to maintain themselves is too high for a business to sustain long term.
Mixing and delivering feed (PDF, 504KB)
Explains what equipment to use to mix and deliver feed to your herd, such as a front-end loader (tractor and bucket), silage cart or mixer wagon. Also includes various images of each.
Summary report: a review of 11 applied dairy nutrition models used in Australia (PDF, 758KB)
For nutritionalists - 11 computer-based models. Dairy Australia's Grains2Milk program hopes that as a result of this study, dairy nutrition advisers will be more aware of the nutritional models available, and better able to use their preferred model to support their business with a greater understanding of its functionality, sensitivity to data inputs, and strengths and weaknesses. The information aims to encourage dairy nutrition advisers to enhance their advisory capability by learning to use different models and better appreciate the strengths and limitations of these models.
Appendix: a review of 11 applied dairy nutrition models used in Australia. Technical details (PDF, 1MB)
Review of 11 applied dairy nutritional models used in Australia:
- Amino Cow.
- Cam Dairy.
- Diet Check.
- Feed into Milk.
- Dairy Predict.
Milk fat depression (PDF, 92KB)
It is now understood that incomplete bio-hydrogenation of excessive dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (principally linoleic acid) by the ruminal microbes may play a major role in milk fat depression. This document explains how milk fat depression can occur through incomplete bio-hydrogenation.