04 June 2019

A dairy cow ration with less soya meal?

A dairy cow ration with less soya meal?

As part of the PROTECOW project, five solutions to reduce the proportion of soya meal in dairy cow rations have been identified and tested on standard farms. 

Today, the use of soya meal in the livestock feed is more than controversial. The major advantage of this product is its nutritional benefits, particularly in dairy cow rations based on corn silage. Conversely, the disadvantages are economic (high price volatility, import dependence) or environmental (deforestation, GMOs).  To bring solutions to breeders, PROTECOW has been studying the levers that can be mobilised on dairy farms that allow the soya meal used to be partially or completely reduced.

Five levers: 14% to 100% of soy saved

Five solutions were selected on the basis of breeder expectations and available resources on the farms of the project area (France-Wallonia-Flanders). Their technical and economic impacts were then assessed by simulation on average representative farms in the region.

Replacing soy by …

Quantities of soy saved

Growth of net margin

Rapeseed meal

100 %

+ 14 %

Italian Ryegrass catch crops

14 %

+ 4 %

Fodder richer in protein

23 %

+ 7 %

Toasted faba beans

22 %

+ 2 %

Switching to organic farming

64 %

+ 8 %


With a reduction of soya meal from 14% to 100%, the improvement of the net margin is positive (2% to 14%) for all the solutions. The results of this study have been summarised in technical data sheets available on the PROTECOW website. To support these initial results, some of these techniques will be tested in situ in PROTECOW network farms during 2019.

For further information: www.interreg-protecow.eu

This project is subsidised by the European funds of the INTERREG V FWFl program, Wallonia and the province of West Flanders.

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