Dairy Feed Quality Conference 2019

The 2019 Dairy Feed Quality Conference – a two‐day technical conference for feed manufacturers, nutritionists and senior executives of milk operations examining dairy nutrition, and the interaction between nutrition and management of the modern cow – will be held on 16-17 September (Monday-Tuesday) at the Hilton Sukhumvit Hotel, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The conference will bring together an exciting team of practical hands‐on speakers all with experience of milk production under tropical conditions to cover the themes of:

  • Calf and heifer management – setting the future profitability of your herd
  • Diet formulation strategies – getting value from the major cost input
  • Satisfying the modern consumer and creating value that translates to farm profitability

Concluding the conference will be two simultaneous 90-minute discussion groups designed to help you plan the development of your dairy business. Delegates will choose between:

  • Setting up a greenfield dairy farm
  • Developing your dairy feed production

Each session will be led by key speakers from the main program and ensure that delegates leave the conference with a clear plan for future expansion.


Calf and heifer management – setting the future profitability of your herd
The lifetime productivity and profitability of the herd is set from the earliest stages of development. This session will deal with the key aspects of successful calf and heifer management including the pre-calving platform, successful parturition, colostrum management, evaluating whole milk vs milk replacers, hygiene, minimising disease incidence through feeding, setting up a successful transition from monogastric to ruminant and developing the rumen, formulation of starter feeds, reducing weaning stress, individual vs group feeding and social development, growth targets and critical mating weights, and how first calving age and health affects profitability. The three speakers have extensive hands on experience and will convey the practical tips and observations on the economic impact of a successful rearing program.

Diet formulation strategies – getting value from the major cost input
Given that feed represents the major cost element in production it is critical that the formulation and presentation of the feed is both meeting the complex nature of ruminant nutritional requirements but utilising raw materials and supplements that optimise the economic return. This session will review nutritional requirements aligned with production levels (energy, protein, minerals, vitamins etc) and examine raw material use and processing to optimise balance and economic response. It will also demonstrate how anaylsis through simulated rumen conditions can assist with balancing raw materials for efficient production and predicted microbial protein output. It will review influences on rumen health and digestion, feed efficiency, feeding to alleviate heat stress as well as considerations for feedmills vs on farm mixing. In addition we will hear views on where dairy producers should spend their money in an Asian context.

Satisfying the modern consumer and creating value that translates to farm profitability
Asia is facing increased milk supply demands but with a global consumer and media focus on such as issues such as climate change, resource use, environmental load, welfare considerations, increased nutritional & diet awareness and scrutiny how do we meet the challenges and utilise the trends positively on farm for profitable outcomes? We will examine how management and nutritionally tackling issues contributes positively to farm profitability and sustainability.


Shane Whittaker

Dairy farmer and independent consultant, New Zealand

Mr Whittaker’s career has taken him the full circle from a New Zealand base with a degree from Massey University and share milking, to farms in the UK, USA (Pennsylvania) to eight years in India with Hatsun Agro and back to New Zealand where he currently runs a large milking herd of Holstein Friesian and HF Jersey cross. In India, Shane’s role with Hatsun Agro, one of the largest private dairy processors in India (more than 300,000 producers), included leading ‘Project White Gold’ where he developed farms of 10-30+ cows arranging loans, education, budgeting, R&D and feed formulation as well as being the department head with 20 agronomists, eight loan officers and animal extension services (60 vets and 220+ inseminators). Now responsible for a leading and rapidly growing herd in New Zealand, Shane’s experience across continents and first-hand practical experience of the challenges of developing as well as export markets makes for incredibly valuable insights and observations as to directions for Asian dairy development and where to focus.

Jay Johnstone

CEO, Fermentrics Technologies Inc, Canada

A graduate of McGill University, Dr Johnstone has been involved the animal feed industry since 1975 and was appointed CEO of RFS Technologies, a regional Ontario based feed manufacturer, in 1983. In 2017 Jay retired from RFS Technologies to concentrate his efforts on developing new laboratory techniques of feed analysis. His team have worked to better qualify feed characteristics and formulation techniques. This work has led to the development of the novel Fermentrics In Vitro gas system which employs live measurement of pressure, CH4, CO2, and pH and includes an interpretive approach based on Ai. Recent work has combined the Fermentrics system with a facial recognition platform being developed by Cainthus to identify live feeding patterns and ethology metrics with the goal of a better characterization of feed intake given varying environmental conditions.

Jeanette Fisher

Partner, Herifermax Consultancy, Australia

Ms Fisher runs Heifermax, an international dairy heifer management advisory service. Consulting work involves on-farm advising of dairy farmers on best practice calf and heifer management. She encourages farmers to adopt monitoring, measuring and the use of SOPs to achieve consistently good results. Group training is also offered. Examples of this include delivery of training sessions to groups of farmers, veterinarians, department staff and school students both in Australia and overseas. Ms Fisher has also worked in the USA to develop intensive irrigated grazing systems for sheep.

Jan Cortenbach

Chief Technical Officer, De Heus Animal Nutrition BV, China

Mr Cortenbach has MSc in Animal Husbandry (tropical animal production and poultry science0 from Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands. For the last 114 years he has been with De Heus International as Chief Technical Officer responsible for know-how transfer to the company’s joint-venture partner Wellhope Agri-tech Co Ltd based in Beijing. He has been in pig, poultry and cattle farm management, feed milling technology, feed formulation, quality control, and quality assurance. Since January 2016 also supporting De Heus International for technical knowhow in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia).

Earl Rattray

Dairy farmer and Director, New Zealand Dairy Farms Ltd, New Zealand

Mr Rattray has privately held dairy farming interests and employs the 50/50 sharemilker model. He has held many roles including as an External Monetary Policy Advisor to The Reserve Bank of NZ, Chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of NZ, Director of Fonterra, and Director of the New Zealand Dairy Board. He has been closely involved with Canterbury Grasslands – a large scale international dairy farming company in NZ and the USA. New Zealand Dairy Farms Ltd provides qualified investors with an opportunity to have a direct investment in dairy farming. Mr Rattray is also deeply involved in a green-field dairy business in India. This started formal production in 2014 and is an exciting, simple model, 350 cows on site, 200 milking, year-round supply in a fresh milk to market business model.

Click here for the 2019 registration form

Click here for the 2018 program

Click here for alternative hotels

Click here for frequently asked questions

Click here for Hilton Sukhumvit Hotel Booking form

Click here for directions to Hilton Sukhumvit Hotel

2018 Conference Report:

Increase milk yield and ROI under Asian conditions

Asian Agribiz’s inaugural Dairy Feed Quality Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand in November, addressed tools and techniques to increase milk yield and profitability under tropical conditions in Asia. The region is driving global growth in milk production and consumption.

Renowned dairy experts from around the world were invited to present on three themes that are critical for Asia to grow its milk production within the region.

The themes were Formulating for improved outcomes in dairy ration; Nutritional strategies to improve health and performance; and Essentials for enhanced reproduction and breeding.

Formulating for improved outcomes

 Mike Hutjens, a reputed dairy extension specialist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois, USA, led the discussion on the first theme.

 In his presentation on ‘Nutritional strategies for performance and economic returns, Prof Hutjens said nutrient intake and balance are key to improving milk production and milk components.

 He places emphasis on carbohydrates, saying carbohydrate fermentation in the rumen is critical in producing microbial amino acids and rumen volatile fatty acids as energy sources. Humans run on glucose and cows on VFA’s.

Metabolizable protein evaluates protein and amino acid requirements.  Dairy cattle have amino acid requirements from microbial protein sources and rumen undegraded protein feed ingredients.  Milk protein content is related to amino acid supply. He also discussed the benefits of balancing amino acids.

Prof Hutjens said that every year forage quality changes and it is important to know the digestibility of fibre.

Fats and oils can be used to increase energy density in the ration.  Source of oil or fat, economics, and handling characteristics must be considered when selecting sources.  Feeding PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) can lead to rumen disorders and lower milk fat test.

Feed additives are feed ingredients added to a dairy ration that functions in a non-nutrient role (such as improving rumen fermentation or reducing heat stress).  Four factors to consider when selecting a feed additive are its function, the benefit to cost return, research results, and on-farm responses.  He reviewed his assessment of indicative ROI when using additives.

Also reviewed aspects related to heat stress, rumen stability and the proportion of first calf heifers in the herd. He mentioned measuring MUN as a powerful tool to evaluate if cows are capturing nitrogen.

Apart from essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and energy, water is equally important for dairy.

Importance of water

Steve Little, Principal of Capacity+Ag Consulting, said dairy producers should ensure good water balance in dairy cattle as it is the first and most essential nutrient in dairy nutrition. It contributes to sound performance and the financial success of a dairy business.

Rumen microbes are affected by the water quality and Mr Little described how nutrient digestibility can be affected. He discussed the importance of biofilm and the need to evaluate possible sources through the whole water supply system.

It is important to provide free access to fresh, clean water near the food source, especially prior to and after each milking. In addition, water samples from a dairy farm should be collected for testing at least once a year to ensure hygienic and sanitary quality.

Increasing the efficiency of milk production while reducing the cost of production is crucial, said Jean Margerison, Associate Professor at Nottingham University’s Faculty of Science. She concluded that the nine key parameters that should be noted and focused on include feed production, feeding, young stock, disease control, reproduction, stock welfare, environment, housing and milking management.

 Novel concepts

Brendan Wilkins, Dairy Consultant, Thailand, looked at novel concepts in Asia with regards to TMR feeding.

 He said the first step in improving feed fence management should be taken at the design stage. Once the farm is operational most feed fence management improvements should be based on observation and reaction.

 If the farm is designed properly most if not all changes that are made based upon these observations will cost little to implement and give good economic return from healthier cows, stable milk components and increased milk production.

Peter Robson, independent feed and livestock consultant based in Vietnam, pointed out that challenges for the industry are mainly rooted in diverse cultures. To develop the dairy industry, one first should understand the history of the country, people, religion and its nuances and politics. This is essential for foreign governments, consultants and related foreign companies intending to invest or participate in the industry.

 “Culture is the reason for everything. Analyze and give suggestions by all means and seek ways to support through education and training, food safety and farm management. But this should be done in a manner that takes notice of and respects the culture of the country,” he said.

Australian barley and canola meal are proven, reliable, high quality dairy feeds, according to Steve Little.

He said barley may be used as the primary grain in dairy cow diets or as a complementary grain in corn-based diets.

Canola meal is a well-balanced source of RDP and DUP which may be used as a primary protein supplement in lactating cow, transition cow and calf diets.

Barley can help convert more RDP to microbial protein in the rumen and improve cow fertility, whereas canola meal can be used to help increase performance of lactating cows, transition cows and calves

Potential forage

In Asia, meanwhile, two tropical grass seeds – Mulato and Mombassa, were singled out as potential forage for dairy farmers to raise productivity. Following a series of studies on a production program in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchatani province, Michael Hare, Professor at the University of Ubon Ratchathani, said the two grass types grow well in low fertility, highly-acidic soils of the tropical climate. Both are protein rich.

Fertilizer management and appropriate forage cutting techniques, however, should be adopted so that farmers achieve a higher amount of fresh grass for feeding, leading to a better yield in dairy production in the long run.

According to Prof Hutjens, profitability and economic returns on dairy farms are based on high milk production, getting cows pregnant, and healthy cows.

Dry matter intake is critical to meet these three points as dry matter dictates nutrient intake, optimizes rumen fermentation leading to higher levels of energy as volatile fatty acids (VFA) and microbial amino acids, and maintains rumen fill and function.

Through its scientific and technical capabilities, DSM has built five core competencies influencing lifetime production of ruminants. These include Redox Balance, Skeletal Health, Nutrient Utilisation, and Raising Livestock without Antibiotics.

“Our innovative range of antioxidant solutions are used within the Japanese dairy and Wagyu beef production systems. The tailored combination of antioxidants is the ultimate way of achieving true Redox balance and therefore optimum animal health during various life stages,” said Dr Yoshinobu Nakatsuju, Ruminant Technical Manager of DSM Nutritional Products, Japan.

In New Zealand, he said, advanced pasture passed systems and seasonal calving programs cause poor levels of skeletal replenishment manifesting itself in a high incidence of metabolic diseases at calving.

“The positioning of the core competencies has delivered considerable improvements in animal health and productivity for farmers in both cases,” he said.

Organic feed ingredients

As the industry stresses on organic feed ingredients, banana flowers, raintree pod meal, and mangosteen peel could figure as positive alternatives for dairy producers in tropical countries. These will enhance rumen fermentation, said Metha Wannapat, a professor from Khon Kaen University, Thailand.

His research team found that these alternatives are rich in minerals and can be used as rumen conditioners for improving nutrient digestibility, microbe growth, and fermentation efficiency and ultimately, increasing milk production. The study also found that a mixed feeding intervention of tropical plants such as Phaseolus calculates can help improve effective and sustainable dairy production.

Beta carotene generates a lot of interest among scientists as a cure to infertility and mastitis in dairy cows, said Dr Chandr Shakhr, Senior Dairy Nutritionist at DSM Nutritional Products India.

Citing a trial in India, he said feeding cows with Rovimix Beta Carotene at 300mg/day increased conception rates up to 61% against the control group of 42%.

Another study, also in India, showed that feeding the same amount of Rovimix Beta Carotene to early lactating cows with subclinical mastitis resulted in a 60% reduction in somatic cell count, while fat content in milk increased by 10%.

Growth in milk consumption

Despite Thailand’s relatively low milk production and consumption, Supanya Budprom, General Manager of CP-Meiji Co Ltd, Thailand, foresees rapid growth in milk consumption in the country in the next few years, thanks to the national school milk program and the growing coffee culture.

Coffee outlets and cafes mushrooming across the country are helping boost domestic consumption of dairy and cream. As Thailand’s demand for milk is expected to increase from the current 18 l/head/year to 25 l/head/year by 2030, it is crucial for dairy producers and farmers to come up with an effective raw milk management plan to improve milk production to fulfill the rising demand, he said.

Ercole Zerbini, Director of Global Ruminant Technology at Cargill Animal Nutrition in Italy, shared a case study of Cargill’s dairy formulation system, saying it is important for feed producers to understand their roles and different types of nutrients, mainly protein, fiber, carbohydrates, sugar and fat.

“The more we can describe the nutrients, the better we can predict the nutrient-driven performance and come up with a dairy diet formulation that can improve animal performance over time,” he said.



Supanya Budprom, Raw Milk Development General Manager of CP Meiji Co Ltd

All the topics at the conference were interesting and useful for participants as feed is the current hot topic in the industry. He was impressed with the list of speakers and hopes more participants and speakers from the government will attend the conference in 2019.

“It will be interesting to hear about the government’s role in the feed industry, as this will equip participants with information essential for understanding the trend of feed industry,” he said.

Mohamed Imtiaz, Chairman/Managing Director of Farm’s Pride (PVT) Ltd

For a person who knows nothing about feed, this conference was valuable. I got to learn many aspects relating to feed which can link to my business. Information from this conference will enable me to exchange knowledge learned here with my partners and well prepare our business plan that may relate to feed.  I am also impressed with the network of experts and people in this field coming to the conference.”

Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Viziva Services

“How the organizer includes a long list of speakers on feed quality within two days is impressive. We learnt a lot from the presentations. The keynote address on dietary nutrients was interesting and I hope more time is given to delve deeper into nutrition topics in future.”

Chan Seow Chiam, General Manager, Berg + Schmidt 

“Traditionally dairy conferences are held in other parts of the world like the US, Europe and Australia. It’s never happened before in Asia. Asian Agribiz has brought this here in a timely manner and it is good. The conference is also a good place for networking and meeting friends. I hope to see more feed conferences like this.”


CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the report.