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Frequently Asked Questions

Using Rumen8

I have added an ingredient to the diet, why have none of the diet indicators become active?
You must provide a minimum amount of feed to the diet before Rumen8 will start to calculate its performance. This is equivalent to about 75% of maintenance metabolisable energy for your chosen cow.

How can I change the location of my Rumen8 folder?
When you installed Rumen8 you had to choose where to keep the user specific files and the default location was in your Documents folder. If you would like to change this go into the Rumen8 Preferences and on the General tab there is a 'Change home' button. When you click this and confirm you want to change the location of the home folder Rumen8 will ask you again where you would like your home folder to be located when it next starts. Note the new home folder will contain the default feed library, preferences and milk prices files. If you wish to keep your existing library files copy them across from the old ~\Documents\Rumen8\Libraries\ folder to the new location overwriting the defaults.

How to I return to the default feed library, preferences, optimiser or milk prices file that came with Rumen8?
The user specific copies of these files live in the ~\Documents\Rumen8\Libraries\ folder by default. If you wish to revert any of these files to the copy that came with Rumen8 just exit Rumen8, delete the appropriate file (or move it elsewhere) and restart Rumen8. Rumen8 will notice the file is missing and offer to replace it.


How do I upgrade from version 2 to 3
You can install Rumen8 3 alongside Rumen8 2 and they won’t interfere with each other as version 3 uses a completely updated file format for the feed library etc.

You can import your feeds from a version 2 feed.csv library in the Feed Editor with the Import button down the bottom of the window. It will step through each feed and you can skip it or provide the extra information Rumen8 3 needs about management category and particle size. All the feed definitions have been completely updated and expanded so even if they have the same name the version 3 feed definitions will be from much more recent information.

Version 2 diets can be imported from the File and then Import menu on the main window and then saved out in the new .rm8 format when you have finished.

What do I do when I get the error message 'Unable to upgrade MilkPrices.db3 from version 1 to 2'?
To fix the problem just delete the milkprices.db3 file from within your Rumen8\Libraries folder and when Rumen8 starts you will get a new milkprices.db3 file in the new format. If you do this you will lose your previously entered milk prices so if that is a problem send the file to Richard at the support email and it can be fixed and emailled back to you.
If you installed Rumen8 to the default location the full path will be
Note, this is a different location to C:\Program Files\Rumen8 folder and you should not touch any of the files stored there!


I teach in a University/College/School and would like to use Rumen8 in my class, is this possible?
Yes, Rumen8 is already used in several Universities in Australia. Just contact Richard at to decide on the best way to register the software on the computers owned by your institution.

Rumen8 is free, why do I have to register?
Registration gives us some idea of how many users we have, and for those of you who also tell use your role and country, some idea of who is using Rumen8. This helps us apply for further funding to improve Rumen8 (and justify previous funding).

If I give you my email and details, will you give it to anyone else?
No. Your details will not be given to anyone else. Your name and email are only kept so we can supply you with your registration information if you lose it and occasionally send you an email about Rumen8 (we have done this once in 3 years, so it is very occasional).

I use a desktop and laptop, do I need a registration for both machines?
No, the registration is for you, not the particular computer you happen to be using. You may register Rumen8 on both computers in your name. If you have multiple users in an organisation and they have their own computers, we would prefer if they had their own registrations so we know there is more than one user at that institution/organisation (see the question about why we ask you to register). 

I had registered Rumen8 but now it has gone back into trial mode. What do I do?
Occasionally an update means Rumen8 will revert to trial mode. Just put your registration details in again and you will have access to the full program.

Downloading and Installing Rumen8

I have downloaded the Rumen8 installer from the website but it isn't in my download folder, what happened?
Some anti-virus software mistakenly thinks the installer is a virus and deletes it as soon as the download is finished without telling you. The only way around this is to temporarily disable your anti-virus software, download and install Rumen8, and then turn it back on again. If you still can't download the installer contact Richard at the support email and he can send you another link that usually works.

I tried to run the installer and Windows SmartScreen popped up a message telling me it has protected my PC, what is going on?
This is Microsoft's clumsy attempt to protect you from malicious software. If you click on the 'More info' text below the message it shows you the reason is the software publisher (Richard) is unknown to Microsoft but you can now run the installer anyway.

I've just installed an update and now Rumen8 will not start. What do I do?
The settings folder may have been corrupted during the upgrade. You can delete it and Rumen8 should start normally but some of your settings will revert to the defaults. The settings are in the folder
The AppData folder is hidden so you will have to make it visible in the View menu of Explorer. Just delete the folder Western_Dairy_Inc and Rumen8 should start normally.

I have turned on the optimiser in the preferences but it doesn't work, help?
Setting up Rumen8 to talk to Microsoft Excel and use its optimiser add-on is not easy and sometimes just doesn't work on some machines. There are step-by-step instructions given in the User Guide as it takes more than just turning it on in the Rumen8 preferences. Work your way through the instructions in the User Guide carefully and with luck it will work for you. We are sorry this is difficult to set up but as explained in the optimiser question in the section below, we use Excel so we can give Rumen8 away for free.

I use an Apple Mac computer, is there a version of Rumen8 for me?
Rumen8 only runs on computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. However, if you prefer a Mac you still have a few options including Bootcamp, virtual machines and WINE. Look on the Mac page of the website for details.

I'm still using Windows XP or Vista, can I use Rumen8?
We only test Rumen8 on supported versions of Microsoft Windows which means currently Windows 7 and later. However, we try not to use any software that cannot run under older versions of Windows so try it and it will probably work. It definitely isn't supported or recommended, especially if your machine is connected to the internet and not getting up to date security patches from Microsoft.

Can I get a version of Rumen8 for my phone?
We are considering porting a simplified version of Rumen8 to iOS or Android. It depends on how popular it would be and if we can attract funding.

About Rumen8

Is Rumen8 available in languages other than English?
Unfortunately Rumen8 is only available in English at this time. We hope to add translations in the future.

Can I change the units to mega calories and pounds?
No, Rumen8 only uses metric units.

I'm used to net energy demand, can I change metabolisable energy to net energy?
No, ME is the standard used in Australia so Rumen8 reflects this. However, if you open the ME detail window, either through the View menu or by clicking on the 'Metabolisable Energy' heading on the Diet detail tab, the net energy requirements are listed before they are converted to ME.

Why is Rumen8 free?
Rumen8 was originally developed by Martin Staines and Richard Morris when they worked for the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia so was paid for by Australian taxpayers. Ownership has since been transferred to Dairy Australia and Western Dairy and these organisations have provided significant funding to improve Rumen8 further. This funding comes from Australia dairy farmer levies and federal taxes. Rumen8 is part of several Dairy Australia programmes improving nutritional knowledge on Australian farms and from that business profitability. It is more likely to be adopted if provided free of charge.

What language is Rumen8 written in?
Rumen8 was originally written in Visual Basic 6. It happened to be the language we could get for free from a colleague who had two licenses (they cost hundreds of dollars back then). Rumen8 was one of those unofficial projects that was done in 'spare' time and in the evening so didn't have any funding. In 2004 it was ported to Visual Basic .NET and is currently developed in the 2017 version of the software.

Why does the Optimiser use Excel instead of just optimising the diet within Rumen8?

Unfortunately the rumen outflow equations used by Rumen8 are non-linear so the many low cost linear optimisers available cannot be used. Non-linear optimisers are more expensive and usually require a license fee for every copy of Rumen8 which would mean we could not provide it free of charge. Fortunately, the Solver add-on in Excel can handle simple non-linear optimisation so Rumen8 copies the diet and cow into Excel, optimises it and then brings the solution back into Rumen8. It is a clumsy workaround but enables us to keep Rumen8 free for users.

The Feeding Model

Rumen8 is based on a Feeding Standard from the 1990's. Why haven't you updated it?
Rumen8 uses the British feed standard 'AFRC (1993) Energy and Protein Requirements of Ruminants' for energy and protein requirements. It was used by the developers for many years on the Research farm they worked on and predicted performance well for the pasture-based diets common in Australia. Equations to predict ME haven't changed much in the last twenty years so Rumen8 still performs well. Protein requirements however have been revised upwards and this is why Rumen8 applies a 25% increase to the MP demand in the preferences by default. As future feeding standards are released they will be evaluated and incorporated into Rumen8 if needed.

Why is the Metabolisable Protein correction factor set to 1.25 in the Advanced Preferences?

It has been well recognised over the last 15 years or so that the AFRC (1993) feeding standard significantly underestimated the requirement for Metabolisable Protein (MP) in dairy cows. This underestimation has been corrected in the successor to AFRC (1993), known as Feed into Milk (Thomas, 2004).

Rumen8, being based on AFRC (1993) for predicting requirements for MP (as well as ME), has taken a pragmatic approach by adopting a "MP requirement correction" to bring AFRC predictions of MP requirements in line with our current understanding of MP demand by dairy cows. We have adopted a "MP requirement correction" value of 1.25.

As part of a review of 11 applied dairy nutrition models used in Australia (Little et al, 2009), requirements for MP by dairy cows were estimated using various Australian and international dairy nutrition models. The review assessed 7 diets for dairy cows at various stages of lactation, with diets ranging from grazed pasture with minimal amounts of supplement to full TMR diets without any grazed pasture. The review included the models CPM-dairy, AminoCow, Feed into Milk and Rumen8 as well as a number of others.
For the 7 diets assessed as part of the review, requirements for MP as predicted by Rumen8 (i.e. AFRC 1993 * 1.25) were close to the MP requirements predicted by Feed into Milk (mean 2.10 vs 2.03 kg/cow/day). The mean ratio for MP required according to Feed into Milk vs MP according to Rumen8 was 0.97 (range 0.92 - 1.04).

The US dairy nutrition model AminoCow predicted that MP requirements were significantly lower than that predicted by Rumen8 (mean 1.65 vs 2.10 kg) giving a ratio of Amino Cow vs Rumen8 of 0.78 (range 0.71-0.87). On the other hand, the US model CPM-Dairy predicted MP requirements significantly higher than that predicted by Rumen8 (mean 2.49 vs 2.10 kg) giving a ratio of CPM-dairy vs Rumen8 of 1.21 (range 1.09-1.37).

Our suggested "MP requirement correction" of 1.25 leads to 'middle of the road' estimates of MP requirements for dairy cows. Should experienced users of Rumen8 wish to increase MP requirements to be more in line with MP predictions made by CPM-Dairy, the "MP requirement correction" may be increased to a value of 1.4-1.5. However, we caution that this will lead to a significant increase in cost of the diet and risks a high rate of nitrogen loss in urine and manure, thus increasing potential loss of nitrogen into the wider environment.

Little S., King R., Lean I., Rabiee A. and Breinhild K. (2009) A review of 11 applied dairy nutrition models used in Australia. Summary Report. Grains2Milk project, Dairy Australia.
Thomas C. (2004) Feed into milk: a new applied feeding system for dairy cows. Nottingham University Press, UK.

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