New entrant to dairying Nigel Smith rents a 23ha (57-acre) all-grass county
council smallholding near Lutterworth, Leicestershire. It supports 75 Holstein Friesian cows and followers
YOU may recall that I feel our cows will increasingly rely on a feed trough and a pad of concrete to feed them on. The system that has evolved on this farm is that we feel a basal ration for maintenance plus 20-22 litres to the whole herd for the whole year.
Of this basal ration, grass silage and cheap bought-in bulk feeds form the large part of it. Currently, the ration consists of fat coated chips, grass silage and a mix of waste oranges and bread. The bread and citrus waste was mixed and clamped last autumn.
The net result has been a 13ME rocket-fuel feed for below £70/t dry matter. Soya and molasses are also included in the ration. Luckily, our molasses tank was filled up at the end of the previous winter at £20/t below this winters prices. However, even at £98/t molasses is still overpriced.
This is the first winter that we have not fed brewers grains. The cows have certainly not missed them. Grains are too expensive for my system, especially considering the alternatives that are available. For the record, February costings show that the cows averaged 28.2 litres/day at a feed rate of 0.16kg/litre, leaving a margin of £151 a cow.
Our feeding system has taken us down the road of purchasing a diet feeder – second-hand of course. Compared to the previous system – a size 10 shovel – feeding is now easier and quicker. Feed allocation is now very precise and we can now safely use feed like fat coated chips.
I anticipate that the diet feeder will be used for at least 300 days of the year. If the dry summers continue, then it really will earn its keep.
It has also been necessary to upgrade our scraper tractor from a 436 International to Ford 4000, so that the latter can drive the feeder. The former tractor is an absolute belter and sadly is offered for sale in this weeks FW. The 434, a 1970 model, was purchased three-and-a-half years ago and has been replaced by a 1972 model. Is this progress? *
Nigel Smiths scraper tractor – a 436 International – has been replaced by a 1972 Ford 4000 to drive the farms latest purchase – a second-hand diet feeder.