USA dairyman swears by BST
By Allan Wright
BST is securing a top American dairy farmer an extra 872kg of milk a year from each of his 140 cows and boosting annual income by more than £23,000.
"It is giving me a three-to-one return on cost without any health or welfare problems and only a marginal increase in feed intake," Lloyd Holterman told audiences in Cambridge and East Kilbride last week.
"I have been using BST for two years, dairymen like it and it is becoming the demanded technology in progressive herds," said Mr Holterman of Rosy Lane Holsteins, Wisconsin.
He injects BST across the herd every two weeks on all two-year-olds that have been calved for 90 days and older cows that are 60 days calved. The subcutaneous injections at the tail head are stopped 30 days before the cow dries off. BST is used for an average 240 days a lactation. His average response has been an extra 3.6kg a day, with 4.5kg from older cows and 2.7kg from heifers.
"We are breeding pedigree stock and it is important to give all the animals the same treatment so that records are not distorted. I have made more money from BST in one year than I have in selling bulls into AI studs over the past four years," said Mr Holterman, whose herd average is over 12,000kg with some cows giving 16,000kg, all on twice-a-day milking.
"We are not getting any burn-out among the cows, there is no reduction in yield in the year after BST treatment, there is no loss of fertility, no more mastitis and no greater incidence of udder collapse," said Mr Holterman.
He emphasised that udder collapse happened in the immediate post-calving period. For this reason he does not steam up cows at the end of the dry period.
"By the time you get them to 60 days you are home free. All the traumas are behind you and in BST you have a splendid tool to improve milk output during the least stressful period of the lactation and the period which can be the least profitable without BST."
He admitted that the use of BST was low in Wisconsin and warned that the treatment only worked with well managed and fed cows. "But if you have the genetics, the nutrition, the housing, the welfare and the management right BST will pay handsome dividends," he said.
Another key to profitability was to get heifers calved down before two years of age. Mr Holter-man said it cost the equivalent of £1 a day to feed and house heifers from 15 months of age. Every month that calving was brought forward was worth £30 plus the earlier return from milk. *
Dairyman Lloyd Holterman:"BSTis becoming the demanded technology in progressive herds."