Efficient feed rations from the first day


  • NorFor makes the feed ration efficient from the first day of lactation
  • Every feedstuff produced on the farm is analysed
  • Feed rations are adjusted if the cows don’t respond as expected, or to increase the microbial activity to get the most out of the farm’s homegrown feedstuffs
  • Increasing production of corn silage, which performs well in the NorFor simulations
  • Long term goal to increase production to 12,500 kg without excessive feeding
  • Stays on track with NorFor, making sure that increased milk production is closely followed by increased profitability

At Bjärsgård in Skåne in the south of Sweden, dairy farmer Anders Larsson is trying to cut costs wherever he can to fight the effects of the global milk crisis. To this end, he uses the NorFor system to optimize feed rations for his 620 cows, to maximize the growth of the heifers and the amount of milk produced.

“NorFor makes the feed ration efficient from the first day of lactation. We calculate how much the cow should be able to consume from a certain feed ration or how much of that feed she would need to produce a certain amount of milk”, says Anders Larsson, who aims to change as little as possible in the feed mix during the lactations.

He analyses every type of feedstuff produced on the farm. He then gets a set of figures developed to suit the NorFor model of simulating the interaction between the cow and the feedstuff. Once a month, he weighs the amount of feed consumed in each group of cows, and compares the results to the milk output.

“Usually there are no big changes, but sometimes we adjust the feed rations if the cows do not respond as expected. Recently we decided to reduce the amount of concentrate somewhat to stimulate milk production in the low lactation group”, says Anders.

Helping him is dairy farm consultant Mia Davidsson from Skånesemin. She confirms NorFor’s ability to predict how the cows will respond to the calculated feed rations:

“We seldom have to change much along the way. When we do, reducing the amount of concentrate is the most common action”.

Easier optimization with NorFor

Mia has been using NorFor for all her clients for some years now and can hardly recall what it was like not being able to take things like rumen load into acccount. In the NorFor universe, all different feedstuffs have their own rumen load values, but the values are dynamic and change with the size of the cow, its stage of lactation, etc. The values also change in relation to other feedstuffs included in the rations.

All this makes it possible to compose a feed ration that maximizes the cow’s consumption, and thereby its milk yield. In addition, NorFor also includes a number of variables that the user needs to keep an eye on, such as an index on how the feed ration affects the microbial activity in the rumen.

“That is just one of many things that we check. If there is too much sugar or starch in the feed, it shows up in the index. We then alter the mix to increase the microbal activity to get the most out of the farm’s own feedstuff. The NorFor model limits the use of low quality roughage, but on the other hand it accepts large amounts of roughage of good quality, continues Mia Davidsson.

Increasing production without excessive feeding

In Mia’s experience, too much concentrate is often used in conjunction with good roughage, which makes the feed ration unnessecarily expensive. The NorFor system has helped many farmers realize how much milk a cow can produce on a good quality roughage.

The NorFor system not only maximizes the milk yield, but also optimizes the feed ration costs to achieve that yield. It can be used to calculate maximum allowed costs of certain feed components, which can be compared with production costs to facilitate selecting the most cost efficient feed crops in the plant rotation on the farm.

At Bjärsgård, Anders Larsson wants to increase the use of corn silage, which performs well in the optimization simulations. Anders also aims to initially increase the herd’s production from today’s average of 10,400 kg ecm per cow per year to 11,000 with a long term goal of 12,500 – without excessive feeding or other sub-optimized measures. He stays on track with NorFor, making sure that growing milk production is closely followed by increased profitability.


FARMER: Anders Larsson

LOCATION: Skåne, Southern Sweden


BREED: 95 % Holstein

AVERAGE MILK YIELD, kg ecm/cow/year: 10 400

FEED RATION for the high milking group, kg dm/cow/day, july 2016:

Grazing: 0.5

Pressed sugar beet pulp: 2.2

Grass silage: 6.8

Corn silage: 3.5

Wheat: 5.2

Concentrates: 7.9

“Probably the best feed rations in the world”

“I believe that NorFor is the best system in the world for creating feed rations for dairy cows”, says Harald Volden, advisory director and professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

He believes no other system can make a better prediction of how a cow will respond to a certain feed ration. As described beside, farm consultant Mia Davidsson has noticed that the feed ration gets more accurate from the very beginning with NorFor, which according to professor Volden has been proven in scientific studies in the Nordic countries as well as in the USA.

“It is very important to give a milking cow the right feed ration from the day she calves, instead of leaving the adjustment of the feed ration to a later date. If the cow has started lactating on a lower level, she is sort of programmed to a falling curve which is not easy to change”, says professor Volden.

The holistic approach is a big part of NorFor’s success in getting the feed rations close to perfect from the beginning. A unique set of analyses of the feed stuff and unique unlinear models that calculate how the dairy cow and growing cattle respond to different feed rations makes this possible. NorFor includes a dynamic evaluation of each feedstuff, depending on the animal in question and which other feedstuffs are used.

Professor Volden describes NorFor as proactive, since it can detect and solve problems before they occur – problems that otherwise would turn up later:

“In such cases you end up in trial-and-error management, which is very expensive in terms of loss of potential production or higher feeding costs”, concludes professor Volden.