Iwan Vaughan - Exploring sustainable protein sources to feed the UK dairy industry, whilst increasing rumen nitrogen efficiency.
Growing up on the family farm at Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant in Mid Wales, I always knew my future would be within the agricultural industry. The family runs a 200ha mixed farm, comprising of the dairy herd of 130 autumn/winter calving cows, all youngstock is reared on farm either as replacement dairy heifers, young bulls (both Holsteins and continentals) and continental heifers are finished at 20-22 months. The farm also runs 1000 breeding ewes made up of welsh mules but mostly texel x mule ewes. Whilst working away from the farm during week days, I am still heavily involved with the running of the farm from day to day.
My interest and passion for ruminant nutrition came as the first mixer wagon arrived on farm in 2005. I first started to consider how to make the most of the home grown forage we grew on the farm and how to increase output from the milking herd through the way we fed them. Being one of three sons, I always knew my full time role wouldn’t be at home but wanted to stay involved with the industry.
I studied Agriculture with Animal Science at Aberystwyth University from 2007-2010, and upon graduating started working for Wynnstay Group PLC. Starting as a Sales representative I pursued further training and completed a Diploma in Ruminant Nutrition at Harper Adams University. I have been working as a Dairy Specialist within the company for the last 4 years, the role involves supporting and advising farmers across the trading area on dairy management and nutrition. This has opened my eyes to the possibilities on farm, with many inefficiencies holding the profitability of business back, my main objective is to have a positive effect on their business going forward.
Outside of work, I am a keen rugby player and enjoy my rugby and the social at COBRA RFC. I have been heavily involved with YFC through the years, but going over competing age this year I hope to keep involved with the movement in the future.
I would like to thank my family for their support to pursue my ambition, thank you also to Wynnstay for their support and encouragement to complete my project. I would also like to thank The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and McDonalds Restaurants for sponsoring my Nuffield Scholarship, without this generous sponsorship this amazing opportunity wouldn’t be possible.
Purchasing protein feed sources such as soya bean meal and rapeseed meal onto UK dairy farms can become very expensive as markets are very volatile. With and expanding world population and a probable increase world demand for dairy products, can these sources of protein be sustainable in the future?
Within the project I will explore the avenues of what protein sources can be grown on farm, and how can we have better utilisation of protein with grassland for grazing and ensiling and how best to supplement. Looking to alternative sources of sustainable protein for the future such as insect and algae could be possible.
Protein has historically been overfed in the UK with crude proteins of diets being far higher than required. Crude protein is a measure of nitrogen and published figures show that the rumen is only 25-30% effective at utilising the nitrogen that we feed, the remainder is lost in the urine, faeces and milk and this has a huge environmental impact.
Can we look to reduce the amount of protein that we are feeding but achieve higher nitrogen capture in the rumen without impacting on yield and production? What feed sources can be considered to achieve this goal, and can it increase profitability on farm?
I plan to travel to many countries during my study, starting in the UK and the Netherlands, then venturing further afield to the United States, New Zealand and China.