John Round farms 134ha
(330 acres) in the
Gloucestershire Severn Vale.
It is home to his 180-cow
Roundelm herd of Holstein
Friesians and 180 followers.
Cows average 9500 litres on
twice-a-day milking. Maize
and cereals are also grown
AFTER such an unusual summer the maize crop looked surprisingly good, with an estimated yield of over 20t/acre freshweight at over 30% DM.
But, as we are short of forage, we decided to leave less stubble than normal, only about 9in compared with 15in to 18in last year. Although potentially reducing starch percentage in the silage, with plenty of cheap wheat around, this would appear more cost-effective than buying extra bulky feeds.
The Kingshay trial plots were harvested over a weighbridge and all varieties sampled and tested, highlighting some significant differences. The dry matter yield varied from 7t to 8.5t/acre and starch levels from 26% to 36%. More significantly there was a difference of over 20% between the highest and lowest yield of starch an acre between varieties.
It was no surprise, though, that the highest starch yield came from the crop that had the largest mature cob pre-harvest.
Just to confuse us we had grass and maize analysed by two labs, and, as we expected, with the exception of dry matter, everything was different. There was a difference of 8% starch in one maize sample, which represents 2.5kg of starch as fed in the ration. Apart from averaging the two results to get a guide as to what is being fed, I question the use of ration programmes to the nearest grain unless the cows can be taught to read.
Although our rations are run through a computer, fine-tuning is done by assessing the results of what is being fed, ie muck and milk, and cow condition and fertility. The ration is maize silage, grass silage, brewers grains, pressed beet pulp, soda wheat, soya rape, maize meal, molasses, fish, straw, minerals and urea (in descending order of quantities) fed to 27kg of DM.
Cotton was meant to be included but a delivery has been two months late; we are now considering cancelling this as the cows are performing very well with several 3rd and 4th calves over 60kg and the best heifers over 45kg. On the downside butterfat has crept over 3.8%, so we will have to push yields up to bring this back to 3.6% if we can, so saving expensive quota. *