Goldilocks would make a good nutritionist


Goldilocks, quite rightly, was very fussy about her diet and her living arrangements. Her porridge had to be just right and presumably she knew that good nutrition is about the balance of getting it just right.

The table below is taken from a Teagasc trial looking at cows at grass which in part shows this (click here for link). Concentrates were offered at three rates, 0, 3 and 6 Kgs at two levels of grass availability.


These data show that at the 3.0kg (2.67kgDM) feed rate, herbage dry matter intake increases. This is contrary to the messages currently purveying in the industry which cry substitution and that all supplements will cause this.

At the 6.0Kg feed rate herbage intake does fall and there is a risk that this unit will suffer from higher residuals. In practice, good farmers would adjust grazing pressure and/or use followers to manage the residuals. The risk of not doing this is that grass growth and quality will be affected.

There is also an intake carry over effect after the concentrates are removed in the second period for the 3.0kg feed rate, but not enough to give strong stats.

One of the key messages from works like this is around the ‘Goldilocks Principal’ of nutrition.  This states that the diet should be not too hot and not too cold, but just right. ‘Just right’ means balanced for energy, protein, effective fibre, mins, vitamins etc. All the basic rules of good nutrition.

We should also apply the Goldilocks Principal to advice. Some is bland and lacks substance, some is spicy and too hot. It is important that farmers can judge what they feel is just right.

Dairy Club provides independent training and advice in profitable nutrition to help farmers gain these nutrition skills.