27 February 1998

Runners-up champion low input

SIMPLE rationing with a low labour input was the focus of Maize Silage Competition runners-up Bill and Geoffrey Ash.

The 80-cow August to November calving herd at Pinksmoor View, Pinksmoor, Wellington, Somerset, is trough fed blocks of grass silage and maize 50:50 on a dry matter basis.

"Putting out the grass silage with a shear grab three times a week allows more blocks to be placed along the trough for cows to access. Maize silage is put out each day and forked along the trough," explains Geoffrey Ash.

Before grass silage is put out the trough is cleaned out and leftovers fed to heifers.

Stepped concentrates

Concentrates are parlour fed, stepped to a maximum of 7kg earlier in the winter, although feed rates are currently 6kg for fresh calvers and 4kg for mid-lactation cows, to prevent going over quota.

Cows milking well stay at a higher step and those not milking well drop to the next step more quickly.

Cows started the winter on a 24% crude protein concentrate but Mr Ash quickly realised cows were not receiving enough protein. Cows now receive a 30% crude protein concentrate with specified ingredients, including 31% rapemeal, 30% soya and 14% sunflower. A feed rate below 4kg, however, is avoided because cows would receive insufficient protein. &#42

Judge Philip Osbourne checks the quality of Bill and Geoffrey Ashs silage – and likes what he sees.