9 February 1996

Sold on the benefits

ONE man sold on the value of whole-crop is Will Armitage, farm manager to Peter Dixon Smith, Keythorpe Lakes Farm, Tugby, Leics.

The 392ha (970-acre) farm is on grade three land and supports the Lyons herd of 152 pedigree Holstein Friesians and followers, 400 pedigree Texel sheep and 200ha (500 acres) of arable crops.

Dairy herd performance for 1994/95 was 11,655 litres a cow at 3.92% fat and 3.26% protein.

Mr Armitage says: "To support such yields we need consistently high quality forages. Our policy is to provide a number of different types of forage to encourage high total dry matter intakes and to provide correct levels of fibre in the diet. Added advantages are a spread of harvesting dates to reduce the risk of poor harvest weather and reliance on any one particular type of forage."

Whole-crop cereals were introduced in 1994 to complement maize silage. The "Alkalage" whole-crop is treated with Home n Dry additive and used in the complete cow ration at various levels through the winter. This has depended on the starch content of the maize silage and the acid in the grass silage and concentrates fed.

Last year 13ha (32 acres) of whole-crop was grown but for 1996 an extra 15.5ha (38 acres) is being grown to replace forage maize.

Will Armitage: "Whole-crop forage is ideal complement for acidic grass silage."