The right type of feed for cows is the start of good milk production and good quality milk. To guarantee the quality of animal feed in the Dutch dairy sector, the Dutch dairy chain follows European regulations given in the General Food Law. This legislation defines what is allowed and what is prohibited in animal feed. To further guarantee quality and safety, additional requirements are mandated by the Dutch dairy chain for a number of contaminants.
Most Dutch cows spend a great deal of the year out at pasture and eat mainly grass. In the winter, however, grass does not grow well. To continue to feed their cows during the winter, dairy farmers process a portion of the summer grass into silage. Silage is a preserved form of grass. To keep a close eye on silage quality, samples are checked for the presence of dangerous microorganisms like molds and butyric acid bacteria which could cause problems later in the production process of cheese and other dairy products.
Knowing the quality of silage helps the dairy farmer adjust cow rations to optimize milk production. The right balance contributes to good digestion, milk production, milk quality, and the health and wellbeing of the cow.
A Dutch cow’s diet consists mainly of grass and silage, which have a lot of protein. To optimize the cow’s rations, dairy farmers supplement this diet with corn and concentrate made by animal feed manufacturers, which mix ingredients like responsible soy, grains, minerals and vitamins and then press this mix into small pellets. Concentrate must conform to very high quality standards to prevent unwanted substances from entering the feed, substances which later down the line could lead to problems in milk quality.
Government supervision and monitoring to comply with European regulation is conducted by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. SecureFeed monitors the additional quality requirements added by the Dutch food chain. SecureFeed is an independent quality agency for animal feed suppliers. In the Netherlands, dairy farmers only purchase animal feed from animal feed companies that are part of SecureFeed. This guarantees and monitors the quality and safety of animal feed in the Dutch dairy chain.