Many attended the AU summer course in feed ration planning in dairy cattle herds

Scientists from the Department of Animal Science, AU-Foulum, recently concluded the international AU Summer University course: “Feed ration planning in dairy cattle herds”. Students and teachers from many different countries including the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Uruguay, USA and Pakistan participated.

2017.09.08 | Linda Søndergaard Sørensen

In the grass-clover ley at the farmer Henning Madsen.

Cattle researchers from the Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, recently organized a comprehensive international course in feed planning in dairy cattle herds. The purpose of the course was to provide the students with tools for planning, combining and evaluating feed plans in conventional dairy herds.

During the ten days course work, the students went through a wide variety of subjects within feed planning. The teaching was based on the NorFor feed evaluation system and included lectures, review of herd data and different cases, home assignments and independent studies, excursions, exercises, group discussions and preparation of reports.


The main issues of the course were evaluation of data from and visits to two progressive cattle farmers: Henning Madsen from Hodsager (265 dairy cows) and Henrik Grønne from Vinderup (316 dairy cows). Both farms had kindly provided feed and production data and welcomed the students to their farm. Vibeke Duckwaider and Katrine Bjørn from the extension service SAGRO participated in the visits enabling the students to discuss the conditions on the two farms with the farmers and their supervisors.

 In the barn with the first parity cows at Henrik Grønne’s farm.


Two students from the Netherlands and Denmark, respectively, experienced the course like this:

Koen van Helvoort, master student at Animal Science, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

For me it was interesting to learn about the feed evaluation system for dairy cattle in the Nordic countries. As the NorFor system is relatively new, it contains a lot of assumptions which have not been taken into account in the Dutch feed evaluation system. Therefore, this course gave me the opportunity to look more critically at the current Dutch system. I also liked the excursions to both farms and the group exercise, which helped to apply the knowledge into practice. The teachers came from different universities and gave inspiring lectures. Additionally, I found the extra session about compact feeding very useful as it is an actual topic in Denmark and an upcoming feeding strategy in the Netherlands. Beside the academic part of the course, I liked the atmosphere in the group and the exchange of knowledge between students of different countries. Therefore, I can recommend everyone interested in dairy nutrition to spend part of the summer in Denmark by following this course.

Sofie B. Skovsgaard, master student at Aarhus University

In general, it was a very exciting and interesting course where we learned how to use the tools in NorFor in practice. We visited two farms used as case herds for the assessment of different scenarios in NorFor, for instance focusing on non-GMO and environmental exposure. The farm visits also made me understand what to do in practice, which has been very useful in relation to the theory we have been taught during the course. The course is an international course, and we have learned much about the Danish feed system but also about feed systems and norms from other nationalities, which has been very instructive and has increased our knowledge and perception of how differently the farmers may run their cattle herds.

Senior researchers Martin Riis Weisbjerg, Mogens Larsen and Jakob Sehested from Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, were responsible for the course. Moreover, the lectures were given by Egil Prestløkken, NMBU, Norway; Thomas Pauly, SLU, Sweden; Mark Hanigan, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA; Troels Kristensen, Marianne Johansen, Søren Østergaard, Janne Rothmann Holm, Aarhus University, Denmark and Henrik Martinussen, Nicolai Ingemann Nielsen and Niels Bastian Kristensen, SEGES. The course was financially supported by NOVA (The Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network).

We expect to repeat the course in 2019.


Further information

Martin Riis Weisbjerg and Mogens Larsen, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University:

Anis, Cattle, DCA