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22
Forage & Nutrition
Guide 2018
Authors: Conrad Ferris, principal scientist within the Sustainable Dairy Systems research programme at Agri-Food and
Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

David Johnston, postgraduate student at Queen's University Belfast, recently joined the United Feeds Ruminant team
A
AFBI research demonstrates
potential of field beans in dairy
cow diet
As the UK livestock sector has expanded and intensified, the demand for
concentrate feeds has increased. This increase in concentrate use has led to
increased demand for quality `protein' ingredients such as soya bean meal
However, many protein ingredients are imported from
countries outside the European Union (EU), and this has
left the dairy sector vulnerable to instability of supply, price
volatility, and the limited availability of non-genetically
modified protein sources. For these reasons, there is increasing
interest in the use of locally-grown protein crops.
Field bean (Vicia faba) is a grain legume of particular interest
with yields of 5.5-8.5 tonnes (t) per hectare (ha) reported in
Ireland. While the crude protein content of field beans is lower
(30 per cent dry matter [DM] basis) than that of soya-bean
meal (55 per cent DM basis), field beans have a much higher
starch content (40 per cent DM basis). However, there is
limited information on the effect of level of inclusion of field
beans in dairy cow diets on animal performance. In addition,
the use of field beans in dairy cow rations is often restricted
due to concerns about `anti-nutritional factors' which can
reduce performance. This study, which was co-funded by
AgriSearch and the Department of Agriculture, Environment
and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, examined the
impact of four different field bean levels in the diet on cow
performance.
THE STUDY
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) study involved
Intakeoffieldbeans(kg/day)
0
1.6
3.2
4.8
Silage DM intake (kg/day)
12.8
12.9
13.1
12.7
Total DM intake (kg/day)
21.7
21.9
21.8
21.5
Milk yield (kg/day)
28.0
29.0
27.4
28.0
Milk fat (%)
4.35
4.46
4.51
4.45
Milk protein (%)
3.49
3.52
3.49
3.41
Milk fat + protein yield (kg/day)
2.05
2.23
2.16
2.16
Average body condition score
2.44
2.44
2.43
2.43
Methane production (g/day)
516
492
476
501
Table1.Effectsofintakeoffieldbeansindairycowconcentratesonaveragecowperformance.
Field beans growing on a farm in the UK
(left) and beans ready for harvest (right).