The possibility for farmers to elect to feed a low (12%) crude protein concentrate to cows during the summer months to reduce nitrogen excretion rate is set to be introduced from January.

At meetings of the Agriculture Water Quality Working Group last Friday and again on Wednesday, the Irish Farmers Journal understands that discussions were had on changes that will affect nitrogen excretion rates, pending a review of the Teagasc figures to be carried out by UCD.

Subject to this review and pending approval by the Minister for Agriculture, the move to feed low protein dairy feed will have the effect of reducing organic nitrogen excretion rates for dairy cows.

Nitrogen excretion rates for cows in the middle band would fall by 3kg to 4kg per cow per year, while it could reduce the excretion rate for cows in the high band by 6kg to 7kg per cow per year.

It is expected that the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation will be requested to make a facility available for farmers to decide if they are selecting the low protein dairy feed option. This will then adjust the nitrogen excretion rate for their herd depending on what band the cows are in.

A reduction to the nitrogen excretion rates of young calves was also discussed and is also likely to be introduced. This could see the nitrogen excretion rate for calves in the first three months of life reduce from 6kg nitrogen to 1kg nitrogen.