Formulation of Least-Cost Dairy Ration for Small-Scale Dairy Farms Using ‘Solver Add-Ins’ in Microsoft Excel

Document Type: Research Article


1 Department of Animal Science and Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University, Khulshi, Chittagong, Bangladesh

2 Department of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh


Small-scale dairy farming in Bangladesh is constrained mostly due to acute shortage, high price and seasonal fluctuation of energy and protein supplements. Poor economic conditions of dairy farmers do not allow them to purchase adequate conventional energy and protein supplements. Locally available non-conventional energy and protein sources can be used as alternatives, cheaper than conventional energy and protein sources. Non-conventional feedstuffs are deficient in certain macro and micro nutrients. As a result, formulation of a least-cost balanced ration using non-conventional feedstuffs is a major challenge for marginal farmers. The current study presents a least-cost formulation plan for the small-scale dairy farmers using locally available low-cost non-conventional feedstuffs. A simple Microsoft Excel program with ‘Solver Add-ins’ has been used to formulate least-cost rations for crossbred and indigenous dairy cows. The step by step logical procedure ensured that the ration was balanced for most of the key nutrients, was least-cost and gave the user significant control over the formulation process. Incorporation of multipurpose low cost neglected forages such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), helencha (Enhydra fluctuans), ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) and their subsequent effect on cost minimization is discussed. This formulation method may be recommended for use by small-scale dairy farmers as well as livestock extension workers who wish to formulate least-cost dairy rations using locally available feed sources to optimize the feeding of dairy animals at farm level.


Alexander D.L.J., Morel P.C.H. and Wood G.R. (2006). Feeding strategies for maximizing gross margin in pig production. Pp. 33-43 in Global Optimization: Scientific and Engineering Case Studies. United State: Springer US.

AOAC. (1994). Official Methods of Analysis. 15th Ed. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Arlington, VA, USA.

ARC. (1984). The nutrient requirement of ruminant livestock. Supplement No. 1. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Farnham Royal, England.

Chakeredza S., Akinnifegi F.K., Ajayi O.C., Sileshi G., Mngoba S. and Gondwe M.T. (2008). A simple method for formulating least cost diet for small holder dairy production in Sub-Saharan Africa. African J. Biotechnol. 7, 2925-2933.

Dunham R.J. (1989). Feeding Dairy Cows. Cooperative Extension Service. Kansas State University, Manhattan. US. Available at:

FAO. (2004). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations the State of Food Insecurity in the World.

Goswami S.N., Chaturvedi A., Chatterji S., Patil N.G., Sen T.K., Hajare T.N. and Gawande R.S. (2013). Least cost diet plan of cows for small dairy farmers of Central India. African J. Agric. Biotechnol. 8, 5989-5995.

Munford A.G. (1996). The use of iterative linear programming in practical applications of animal diet formulation. Math. Comput. Simul. 42, 255-261.

O’Coner J., Sniffen C.J., Fox D.G. and Miligan R.A. (1989). Least cost dairy cattle ration formulation model based on the degradable protein system. J. Dairy Sci. 72, 2733-2745.

Patil V. (2010). Cost of milk production: A case study of Maharashtra. Available in: www. afcindia. org. in /aug/2010/ 33-25.pdf.

Pesti G.M. and Seila A.F. (1999). The use of an electronic spreadsheet to solve linear and non-linear “stochastic” feed formulation problems. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 8, 110-121.

Pond W.G., Church D.C. and Pond K.R. (1995). Basic Animal Nutrition and Feeding. John Wiley and Sons, Inc, Somerset, New Jersey, USA.

Thomson E. and Nolan J. (2001). UNEForm: A powerful feed formulation spreadsheet suitable for teaching or on-farm formulation. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 91, 233-240.

Webster A.J.F. (1993). Understanding the Dairy Cow. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.