PhD Courses in Denmark

Feed Ration Planning in Dairy Cattle Herds (2024)

Graduate School of Technical Sciences at Aarhus University

Objectives of the course:

The overall aim of the course is to give the student a theoretical background for feed ration planning, which enable the student to plan, evaluate and discuss feeding rations in commercial dairy herds. The teaching, student forum and the teacher collegium will be international with a focus on a Scandinavian setting.


Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe and generate plans of feed supply – crop rotation, crop production, allocation of feeds among animal categories/groups, forage/concentrates, self-supply
  • Describe and discuss feed production – quantity and quality, conservation and processing
  • Describe and combine feed analyses and evaluation – energy, protein, input parameters for different systems
  • Describe and discuss elements of ration formulation – nutrient requirements, response curves, individuals / groups, feed intake capacity
  • Describe and compare mathematical models describing digestion and metabolism – model types (mechanistic vs empirical, dynamic vs static, additive vs non-additive, etc.), digestion kinetics
  • Describe and compare feed planning and evaluation tools – NorFor, and others – comparative approach
  • Apply the NorFor tool (international client) and a tool for feed budgeting
  • Discuss and relate feed ration optimization to optimal production level, cost minimization, diminishing returns

Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: Combined PhD and MSc course

Time of year: Q3 2024

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: Two weeks course in August with pre and post assignments. The 11 days course will take place in AU Viborg, Research Centre Foulum, Denmark, from 5 to 15 August. The course will be intensive with a high workload during days, evenings and weekend, but there will also be room for social and cultural activities.

The workload is distributed as follows: Preparation for the course: Self-study (20 h), Residential course: Lectures, exercises, group work, excursions (100 h), After the course: Report writing under supervision (30 h)

Capacity limits: 25 participants

Compulsory programme:

Before the course, students individually prepare a report (2 standard pages) about their current and previous national feed evaluation system for dairy cattle and a presentation (10 min), that has to be given the first day, about themselves, their master/PhD project, and what they have used/will use feed evaluation and ration planning for. The report must be handed in at the start of the residential course.

During the course, students are trained to plan, evaluate and discuss feeding rations in commercial dairy herds using the NorFor system, and to discuss elements of this based on lectures, literature, farm data and cases, excursions, individual and group discussions, exercises and report writing.

After the course students will prepare a group report (3-4 standard pages per student) on feed budgeting and planning in commercial dairy herds with a focus on ration optimisation to optimal production level and cost minimisation. At the end of the course, the groups present their report outline and status. The group report must be handed in no later than two weeks (14 days) after ending of the residential course.

The examination is a combination of 2 oral presentations with questioning, assessment of an individual and a group assignment (2 reports), and presence and active participation in the course. See ‘Contents’ for further details on assignments.


Course contents:

The course will handle feed supply, including crop rotation, crop production, effects on self-supply, and optimization of feed allocation within and among animal categories/groups, including forage/concentrate ratio. Further feed production is described, including the effect of conservation and processing on feed quantity and quality.

Feed evaluation including feed analyses and evaluation, and variation between different systems in energy and protein values and input parameters are discussed. Further, nutrient requirements, and effects of ration formulation on cows’ response on individual and group level, as well as feed intake capacity are discussed.

The use of mathematical models to describe digestion and metabolism, and model types (mechanistic vs. empirical, dynamic vs. static, additive vs. non-additive, etc.) will be discussed, and also models describing digestion kinetics is part of the course. Feed planning systems and evaluation tools will be compared and discussed, and there will be worked actively with the system NorFor, and others, in a comparative approach.

Feed budgeting and planning exercises are performed on a real life situation. The course will end in discussing feed ration optimization to optimize production level, to maximize the difference between input costs and output revenue, hereunder discussion on diminishing returns at increased input level.


Prerequisites:

B.Sc. including courses in livestock animal physiology and nutrition


Name of lecturers:

Course responsible: Professor Martin Riis Weisbjerg and postdoc Nikolaj Peder Hansen, Aarhus University

Teachers (tentative list): Associate professor Egil Prestløkken, NMBU, Norway; Professor Mark Hanigan, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, US; Advisor Henrik Martinussen, SEGES, Denmark; Senior advisor Nicolai Ingemann Nielsen, SEGES, Denmark; Professor Søren Østergaard, Aarhus University, Denmark; Advisor Torben Spanggaard Frandsen, SEGES, Denmark


Type of course/teaching methods:

The teaching, student forum and the teacher collegium will be international with a focus on a Scandinavian setting. During the residential course, the teaching will interchange between lectures, excursions, case-work, exercises, student presentations and class discussions, and report writing.

The course is offered both as MSc and PhD course.


Literature:

To be defined


Course homepage:

Announcement AU course catalogue: https://kursuskatalog.au.dk/da/course/124590/Feed-Ration-Planning-in-Dairy-Cattle-Herds

Announcement AU summer University: https://international.au.dk/education/admissions/summeruniversity/course/feedrationplanning


Course assessment:

The examination is a combination of 2 oral presentations with questioning, assessment of an individual and a group assignment (2 reports), and presence and active participation in the course. See ‘Contents’ for further details on assignments. The grading is pass/fail.

 


Time:

5 to 15 August 2024 (noon to noon; the course starts at 12.00 on 5 August and stops at 12.00 on 15 August).


Place:

Research Centre Foulum, AU Viborg (Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50, DK-8830 Tjele)


Registration:

Registration is via Summer University:  https://international.au.dk/education/admissions/summeruniversity/course/feedrationplanning

Application is open from 15 January to 15 March at 12 noon CEST

Second round of applications are open in May (dates TBA).

If you have any questions, please contact Martin Riis Weisbjerg, e-mail: martin.weisbjerg@anivet.au.dk or Nikolaj Peder Hansen, e-mail: nikolaj.hansen@anivet.au.dk