18 February 2000

Low concentrates + high forage = profit

LOW concentrate use and high forage intakes combine to produce a high margin over purchased feed a litre for the Shropshire regional competition winner.

Edward Fair, a frequent MGA regional winner in the past, impressed judges again this year with the feeding of his 320 cows at Peatswood Farm, Market Drayton.

Maize analysing at 11.4 ME is heavily relied on for milk production with winter rations including maize silage as 70% of the forage DM. But concentrate supplementation is low, at 0.15kg a litre in early February, for the 7400-litre autumn calving herd.

Concentrates fed in the total mixed ration include just rapemeal, soya, urea, vitamins, minerals and limestone flour. This was fed at 4kg a cow, with fresh calvers and heifer groups also receiving Economol at 0.5 and 1kg a head, respectively.

"Although it is an expensive ration costing £120/t, we have a low feed rate," he said. Average purchased feed cost for the past year is just 1.65p a litre or £122/cow, with average use at 0.18kg/litre. The herds costings show 4882 litres were produced from forage last year.

Mr Fairs plan to lower production costs also included extending the grazing season.

"Turnout will be earlier this year, in mid-March. We have prepared for early grazing because we must reduce costs. Our income is down 2.15p/litre this year, but variable costs have only fallen 0.3p/litre."

Overhead costs have also been the focus of his attention. A 20:40 herringbone parlour installed two years ago allows one man to milk in 2.5 hours, saving a full-time man compared with the previous two-man rotary parlour. Mr Fair is also digging sand for cubicle bedding on the farm, saving about £5000 this winter on buying sand.