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Graeme and Patrick Cock

15 November 1996

Graeme and Patrick Cock

Graeme and Patrick Cock run a pedigree herd of 300 Holstein Friesians and 200 followers on 202ha (500 acres), 93ha (230 acres) of which is owned at Ashburton, south Devon. The brothers harvest 40ha (100 acres) of forage maize – and milk three times a day.

ITS GOOD to be able to report that for the first time since we have been contributing to this column, that things – to date – are going reasonably well.

We are just moving our first lot of cull cows since February and 50 should go in the next 10 days, which is a relief. Rightly or wrongly, we waited for our number to come up on the scheme rather than take other options.

Also, the first 30 acres of grass we reseeded in September are looking well. This year is the first we have done any amount of medium term reseeds for probably 10 to 15 years and Sods Law says this year was the worst in that period for frit fly. But the spray was effective and saved our proverbial bacon.

Conception rates seem good on both cows and heifers this year. I feel more energy in the diet since calving has helped plus the fact that August 96 temperatures were far more favourable than last years heat wave. We should calve about 250 cows and heifers next June and July.

Having already served 100 heifers we are considering selling the November/December heifers – a batch of 24 with average PIN of £60 and EBL accreditation. But well have to see if much interest is shown.

Maize harvest has just started (Oct 28) with good yields, but it is a fortnight later this year. If we get a few more dry days, we should be done because travelling is still quite good.

A dry matter of 35% and a starch level of about the same should make us happy bunnies.

Last year our NMR 305-day yield was 9100 litres but this year with feed prices high we will trim the yield slightly. We have gone back to twice-a-day milking and aim to make good use of our forage stocks which are very good going into the winter.

Now we must focus our attention on bactoscans and cell counts for next Aprils new hygiene payments – which are not to be sniffed at. Being able to move cull cows helps in this process.n

Maize harvest was a fortnight later at Younghouse Farm this year but yields were good and the land held up well. The aim is for a dry matter of 35%.

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Graeme and Patrick Cock

3 May 1996

Graeme and Patrick Cock

WE are now in the hokey-cokey time of year for the cows with them being in-out, in-out (in fact 10 days out and then fortnight in then out again), writes Patrick.

With the first cows just gone dry and still inside on straw for the first couple of weeks of the dry period we are now down to 215 in milk and we have put the cows back into one group, which makes life much simpler.

As a result of a recent parlour test by Genus, at our farm open day, we have found some fairly serious problems with how the pulsation has been operating. This has caused a lot of teat end damage and has also been responsible for rising cell counts over the past few months since the parlour was changed from 20/20 to 38/38.

Many of these problems have always been there, it would seem, but have been seriously compounded by the extra units. We have never tested this parlour since its installation three years ago, under the assumption that if it was new and had no apparent problems, then it must be correct. Perhaps that was a false economy.

The solution has been relatively simple: Adding more clean air line inlets (four instead of one), ringing the two relay vacuum lines and putting restrictors on the relay outlets (liner opening and closing phases were far too quick).

I am pleased that we have been able to cure the problems before drying off, so that it will be correct for the cows when they calve, while any existing teat end damage should heal during the dry period.

The in-calf heifers have been paddocked recently. We would not normally do this but we like to run a Holstein sweeper and are relying more on away grass keep and fields with footpaths.

Of the 85 heifers, eight were less than eights weeks or not in-calf. This makes a more manageable group, giving us flexibility with the rest.

We have not attempted to drill any maize, initially because of the cold but now it is still too wet. Probably our next mission when it dries up.

May might well be a bit hectic. First cut will be a little later and may clash with our new tank, which is supposedly being fitted on May 17. &#42

A recent parlour test made by Genus has shown that problems with the pulsation have caused teat end damage and led to a rising cell count.

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Graeme and Patrick Cock

12 January 1996

Graeme and Patrick Cock

OUR new scrapers in our main cubicle shed were up and running just in time for Christmas. As well as the time saved they will hopefully reduce this farms hunger for eating tractor mounted scrapers. We run them every hour and they do seem to be doing a good job in keeping the passages clean. At first the cows were wary of them and it took time for them to get use to stepping over them as opposed to legging it in the opposite direction.

Our other Christmas present was an update on our 20/20 parlour which, even though only three years old, was taking a longish time to put 280 cows through three times a day. Luckily this was relatively easy to do and probably would not have been considered if it were not. Extra building work was not required. Because of extra space between the walls and the existing freestanding breast rails we moved the breast rails forward and replaced the cranked rump rail with a straight one.

The cows now stand at near to 90 degrees to the pit and we calculated that we could get 17 cows a side in by using as much of the pit edge as possible. In practice, however, we are getting 18 in and we will add another two units to each side to give us a 38/38 parlour that will milk 36 cows most of the time.

To do the work we went back to twice a day milking for four days. The milk dropped by between 6-9%, but the most alarming result was an influx of five quite nasty cases of mastitis. We put these down to the increased pressure on, and milk leakage from, the udders trying to hold an extra four hours milk.

Were sure that less mastitis is a direct benefit of three times a day milking (our curent cell count is 144,000) particularly as yields rise. Although I accept cows on twice a day all the time do adjust to udder capacity as they develop into lactation.

Due to the price hike of fishmeal the cows now receive 0.6kg a head of Amino 2000 which, although it has a lower total protein. should contain more undegradable protein than pure fishmeal. No effect was detectable on its introduction to the ration instead of fishmeal, so as a further cost reducing addition to the ration, I am considering putting our pet goldfish, Herbie, through the liquidiser in the New Year.

New automatic scrapers in the cubicle shed at Younghouse will hopefully reduce the farms hunger for eating its tractor-mounted yard scrapers.

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