5 May 1995

Feed costs a litre slashed

TWO Irish farmers cashing in on EG are John Rankin from County Down in Northern Ireland, and Michael Murphy, who runs several dairy units in the south of Ireland.

Both told the BGS conference that they had reduced their feed costs a litre dramatically since switching to EG.

"On my home farm in Cork I have been able to achieve outputs of around 20,000 litres/ha consistently at very modest cost inputs," said Mr Murphy.

Since 1991 he has also been using EG on another farm in the much colder north central plain of Ireland and has seen concentrate use fall by 50% and silage feeding by 40%.

Other advantages of EG have included lower labour, lower slurry scraping, storage and spreading costs, lower machinery costs, less need for more or better buildings, lower animal health costs, lower herd wastage, higher milk yields, higher milk proteins and butterfats, and a much more pleasant working environment.

John Rankin described his 25-paddock grazing system, which, since EG was introduced, has seen silage intakes tumble by a third.

Mr Rankin runs 143 milkers plus followers on 122ha (300 acres) and rears all calves through to two years plus beef to get two subsidy payments. He aims to graze his dairy herd from Mar 1 until at least the first week in December in an average year.

For the past three years precise closing dates have been Dec 5, Dec 13 and Dec 12, while first turnout has been on Feb 22, Mar 13 and Mar 14.

"We should all look after our grass as well as we look after our cows," he said. "You can buy an awful lot of electric fencing for the price of a mixer wagon."

"Extended grazing is simple to operate, it suits me and it suits my cows," says Mr Rankin. &#42