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John Stanley

1 February 2002

John Stanley

John Stanley farms 336ha

(830 acres) in Leics,

including 90ha (220 acres)

of grass and 24ha

(60 acres) of maize.

Home-grown wheat is also

fed. His 140-cow herd has

a rolling average yield of

11,000 litres on

three-times-a-day milking

DECEMBERS milk recording figures revealed a daily average of 39 litres/cow, our highest monthly figure ever. We are now feeding up to two-thirds of forage as maize silage and its obvious that to produce high volumes of milk, a high level of maize is essential.

On average, cows have been eating 12kg grass silage, 32kg maize silage and 14kg concentrate in the mixed ration. This equates to a total of 56kg fresh weight or 25kg dry matter.

In theory, the more dry matter consumed, the more milk produced. But the problem with high dry matter silage is increased spoilage in the clamp. Based on experience, a maize silage dry matter of 30% and grass silage dry matter of about 25% is about right.

Problems with our parlour during January highlighted the importance of good maintenance. The pulsation unit malfunctioned and this was not picked up for several milkings over a weekend.

It resulted in nine cases of mastitis with 400 litres of milk being dumped for seven days. The total cost, including treatment, was approaching £1000.

The parlour is now having a complete overhaul to boost vacuum reserve and reposition the automatic cluster removers. Mechanical problems, as well as dirt and bugs, can so easily cause mastitis.

In the last few months, I have had quite a bit of feedback on my thoughts of converting my straw yards back to cubicles. It seems the reliability of scrapers and problems of straw or sand in slurry should be considered.

The proposed new nitrate legislation will also influence my decision. At least my straw and solid manure can be stored easily, safely and cheaply compared with slurry. Perhaps I shall stick with straw yards for now.

It is estimated that quota costs us 3-5p/litre depending on who you believe. Shouldnt we abandon quotas and spend half of the savings on promoting milk?

Lets push up consumption and be able to grow to meet the extra demand. Standing still is killing the industry. &#42

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John Stanley

2 November 2001

John Stanley

John Stanley farms 336ha

(830 acres) in Leics,

including 90ha (220 acres)

of grass and 24ha

(60 acres) of maize.

Home-grown wheat is also

fed. His 140-cow herd has

a rolling average yield of

11,000 litres on

three-times-a-day milking.

IT IS mid-October and a large maize silage tonnage has now been clamped. The stems were still green, but cobs were ripe and I hope the dry matter will be between 28 and 30%.

I used a different contractor this year, with a smaller forager. This meant I was more able to consolidate the clamp, as we harvested 12ha (30 acres) a day rather than 20ha (50 acres). Big is not always better and I hope there will be less deterioration of the silage face because of the extra compaction.

I have never used an additive on any silage made at Spring Barrow. As an industry, we waste a fortune each year on an insurance to ensure good quality silage. I believe well-scaled, well-rolled clamps and the use of shear buckets at feeding time are essential parts of good silaging practice which makes high quality forage.

At the last milk recording, the herd reached a lactation average of 11,380 litres with this years heifers giving almost as much milk as cows. This yield is achieved with 3.9t of concentrate a cow in the complete diet. Concentrate cost is £106/t, £7/t up on 12 months ago. I have forward purchased straights until next spring. Hence the spot price will almost invariably fall in the near future.

Keeping cows sound on their feet is a top priority. Along with regular foot bathing, foot trimming is considered essential. Ian McNee, our foot trimmer contractor, used to visit every three months until foot-and-mouth struck. He has just spent three days with us, his first since last December.

He was the first person to come through our gates since the fateful Feb 20 who has had contact with other cattle. On arrival, his hopefully already ultra clean crush was hit with enough disinfectant to start a flood. His side-tipping crush makes the whole operation much less stressful than our own standard crush. &#42

Cows are now averaging 11,380 litres from a complete diet which includes 3.9t of concentrate/cow a year, says John Stanley.

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John Stanley

5 October 2001

John Stanley

John Stanley farms 336ha

(830 acres) in Leics,

including 90ha (220 acres)

of grass and 24ha

(60 acres) of maize.

Home-grown wheat is also

fed. His 140-cow herd has

a rolling average yield of

11,000 litres on

three-times-a-day milking. Off

the farm, he is involved with

the Royal Agricultural

Society of England and

the Royal Vet College

I JOINED a group of clients of Kite Consultants to look around a new 600-cow dairy unit in Gloucester recently. The investment in the state-of-the-art parlour and dairy made my four-year-old unit look positively medieval.

I am sure higher standards of cleanliness and professionalism will be needed in our industry to satisfy the ever-growing demands of milk purchasers and customers. However, where is the money coming from to fund this investment? The current milk price of about 20p a litre is barely enough to turn most businesses back into profit, let alone supply funds for investment.

We must produce accurate figures for cost of production, including producers own labour, cost of quota, opportunity cost of land and depreciation. With nothing hidden, perhaps our milk buyers will realise that we cannot sustain milk production in the UK without a sensible price for milk. We need healthy profits to invest in the future.

However, milk quota appears to be a good buy at the moment. I purchased 150,000 litres at 16p/litre after missing the bottom of the market last month. The last time milk price was about 20p/litre, some years ago, quota was costing well over 30p/litre. I am sure next year, when hitting quota is more likely, the price will increase again.

On the foot-and-mouth front, we had a scare a few weeks ago. A case was suspected some four miles from us in suckler calves. The cattle were slaughtered on suspicion only to discover, eight days later, that brambles in the hedge was the likely cause of the symptoms. How many other perfectly healthy animals have been killed because vets still cannot make an accurate diagnosis? It could just have easily been my dairy cows.

At least we have managed to move 21 culls on the OTMS scheme, but I cannot find a buyer for Holstein bull calves. We have kept some here, rather than slaughter them, but it is a sad day when a bull calf is born dead and we are pleased. &#42

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