16 June 1995

Reds fed for high protein

WINTER wheat made into fermented whole-crop silage forms 80% of the forage for the 70-cow herd of high performing Danish Reds farmed by Erik Ravn and his semi-retired father Sven at Stervbogaard, Fastrup, Aarhus, east Jutland.

On the 87ha (217 acres) that they farm today, 15ha (37 acres) of Hussar wheat, drilled last September and undersown with ryegrass (not common practice with winter wheat in Denmark) will be made into fermented whole-crop at the end of next month.

As it is clamped in outdoor bunker silos, it will be mixed with recently made grass silage ensiled in temporary clamps across the front of the now almost empty bunkers. This unusual practice saves mixing of forage over the winter months when it is offered to the dairy cows. Feeding is via a push-along waist high platform hung from a monorail running along the front of the cow stalls.

This monorail also carries an Alfa Laval concentrate feed dispenser which gives each cow a measured amount of a mix costing about 13p/Danish Feed Unit (DFU). (One DFU = 1kg barley)

Last winter, the daily forage ration for the herd in DFUs was 4 of fermented whole-crop winter wheat, 0.5 grass silage, and 0.5 barley straw.

The concentrate mix comprised 3.3 DFU of dairy cake, 2.5 rapeseed cake, 2.4 soya, 4 home-grown rolled wheat, 1.2 molasses, 1.5 sugar beet pulp plus minerals.

Next winter Erik plans to increase the forage proportion of the feed to 6 to 7 DFUs of fermented whole-crop and reduce the more expensive purchased straights.

In the summer months the herd is grazed during the day where grass/clover leys provide 7 DFUs a cow. In the evening 2 DFUs of whole-crop and 10 DFUs of a concentrate mix are provided.

This feeding programme is producing an impressive performance from the Red Danish herd – one of the best in the country. Milk proteins are currently running at 3.74%, and fats at 4.22%, at a 365-day rolling average herd yield of 8300kg.

"Our main target here is high protein milk. That is what makes the money today," says Sven Ravn.

The 15ha (37 acres) of whole-crop winter wheat that will help to do it this coming winter was drilled at 170kg/ha on Sep 20 last year with 15kg/ha of a late perennial ryegrass.

Spring top-dressing

It has been fertilised with 180kg of nitrogen and was given a spring top-dressing of 40t/ha of slurry. Just two fungicide sprays are being applied this summer, the second one at heading time, which was just starting at the end of last week.

Harvesting by contractor in one day is expected about six weeks after heading at the end of July.