The ‘barrel model’ of an organism’s resource allocation pattern represents the basics for feeding regimes in farm practice. Several objections can be raised against the underlying theoretical assumptions, the generalizations derived from them, and the application of the model in practice. The concept particularly neglects the role of glucose and the increased competition for it between lactocytes and immune cells. It also fails to recognize the large variation between and within dairy herds. Lack of success in reducing production diseases calls for a modified approach – one which not only deals appropriately with the large variation between and within the dairy herds but also strives to balance the existing productivity/animal health/financial trade-offs. Instead of following general procedures, nutrient supply and outflow via milk have to be adapted to the individual requirements and health risks. To do so, the percentage of dairy cows affected by production diseases and failing to cope is a key criterion. Benchmarking of production diseases could act as an orientation point for farmers to compare their own position to other farms and thus set realistic target figures. Furthermore, means and measures to achieve goals have to be validated in the context in which they are used.
Part of the book: Livestock Health and Farming