27 July 2001

60 are still in milk

ALMOST 60 of the cows in Gelli Aur farms high margin/litre autumn-calving herd are still in milk and are using plentiful grass to average 18kg/head/day.

Calving starts again on September 1 and the only supplementation being used is the 0.45kg of concentrate/litre being fed to the small number of cows yielding more than 22 litres/day.

The genetic merit of the mixed bunch of cattle used to establish the herd was not exceptionally high, so the herds management team knew that it would take time to boost yields to 10,000 litres. Progress has been made during the current lactation and production is edging towards 7000 litres.

In June, the herds rolling average yield was 6693 litres with 32% of the milk produced from forage. Concentrate use was 2154kg/cow, or 0.32/litre, giving a purchased feed cost of 4.36p/litre.

Cows generated average margins over purchased feed margin of £896/cow, or 13.39p/litre. In June itself, margin was 17.82p/litre compared with 17.99p for spring calvers.

But the team now believe it is time to accelerate the process by replacing the poorest 20% of cows with top-flight animals. A genetic evaluation of individual cows is underway and the chequebook is ready. Ideally, farm manager John Owen would like to buy locally, but he is prepared to travel to get the best. &#42

The two-herd study at Gelli Aur is sponsored by the Welsh Development Agency and MDC. With producer visits cancelled due to foot-and-mouth, the college has teamed up with farmers weekly to offer regular progress reports. The next report is due late August.