Total mixed rations (TMR) have long been known to increase overall performance. Add to that a cloud communication platform which monitors exact inclusion rates of ingredients in the feed wagon, number of rotations and a team of nutritionists, and further improvements in animal health and productivity are possible.

That is exactly what farmers using the Keenan and Alltech InTouch technologies at farm level have discovered both in this country and further afield.

Research monitoring 24,450 dry dairy cows across 277 farms revealed the system reduced the number of assisted calvings by 53% with the number of retained membranes cut by 57%. In addition, cases of milk fever were down by 75%; ketosis fell by 79% and the number of displaced abomasums fell by 85% on farms using the InTouch system.

The study, conducted at the University of Illinois and the University of Reading, also found that feed efficiency improved, as dairy cows produced 16% more milk per kg of feed due to subtle changes in rumen condition which had major effects on feed efficiency.

Furthermore, in beef cattle, the system resulted in an extra 200g of weight gain per head per day.

First launched in 2009, this live support and review service provides real time feedback on diet performance, with a skilled team of nutritionists working to improve feeding accuracy, consistency and control on farms. Through a series of algorithms developed by Keenan, an inTouch controller allows for the execution of the most accurate loading sequence and mixing process, ensuring optimised rumen function, animal performance, herd health and feed conversion efficiency.

In turn, this prevents over or under mixing of feed ingredients and ensures a consistent TMR in every load. The InTouch controller can also alert farmers and nutritionists when deviations in the feed regime have been made that ultimately can reduce performance and health.

The system also allows farmers to benchmark their herd based on the top 25%, bottom 25% and average herds in your region on various key elements such as litres per cow, dry matter intake per cow, feed efficiency, margin per cow, cost per litre, margin over concentrate per cow, margin over purchased feed and kg of concentrate per litre of milk. Herd figures can also be ranked from the previous year.

"The human element of a feed ration is so important when the diet can change significantly depending on how many times it is mixed and the order at which it is mixed," said Eddie Daly, InTouch business development manager.

"A lot of people are doing a really bad job of mixing their feeds and they don't even realise it, but with cloud computing connecting 2000+ customers globally and real-time automated cloud analytics monitored by nutritionists, we can see where farmers are going wrong with their mixing and rectify the problem before it costs them too much money in reduced performance," said Eddie.

"InTouch makes you aware of the health issues of over and underfeeding and it slows down passage rate so animals feel more contented and are able to produce more from the feed they are given," he concluded.

* A number of new features combine to make the new InTouch controller one of the most advanced, intuitive and easy to use feed management tools available. The eight inch colour display is designed to give the farmer the clearest view of the controller no matter what the weather. In addition, the use of visual displays to highlight the quantity of loaded ingredients and machine rotations, ability to store up to 100 rations and individual pens and the option to update the dry matter percentage of each ingredient on the controller, deliver an enhanced user experience for the farmer.

* There is also a new InTouch App which allows farmers to take control of their feed operations from their mobile device, thereby delivering significant time savings and real time updates to their feeding management process. Available on both Apple and Android devices, the app provides farmers with the ability to simply create and edit ingredients and rations, alter dry matter percentage of ingredients, make changes to pen numbers and update and monitor ration performance data, all from the palm of their hand.