Cream of the crop

Quantity or quality?

It’s a common dilemma in many walks of life.

And for those producers looking to add extra litres or higher constituents to bulk milk tanks over the last few remaining weeks of the current milk quota year, there is a wonderfully diverse choice of cattle from two very different herds being presented to the market.

Quite literally the cream of the crop for those looking for high milk butterfat and protein is the offering of the 200-head Brackenhurst herd of Jersey cattle at Beeston Castle market, Cheshire on 28 March.

This herd, ably managed for some time by the renowned manager Mick Saxby at Brackenhurst College, Nottinghamshire, has been at the forefront of revitalising the management of the breed, not only for high quality constituents but also for modern milk production.

Regular open days at Brackenhurst have allowed producers and the public to see this herd in action.

But in-depth insight has been gained from specialist technical conference days looking at aspects of herd management in particular feeding regimes and nutrition.

Given the interest in Channel Island breeds to improve milk quality for high-yielding, mixed-bloodline herds, and the potential for profit from high milk constituent contracts for cheese and processing dairy products, a good crowd is expected, says the auctioneer.

But the division between high milk yield or high constituents is not so black and white.

News that entire 300-head Ridgefield herd of Holsteins is to be dispersed at Loughborough, Leicestershire, on 27 March will have already seen a swathe of producers reaching for their diaries to circle what many see as being a definitive date in this year’s Holstein sale calendar.

The line-up of cow families is as broad as thumbing through Debretts to determine who is who.

The catalogue offers 30 EX and over 60 VG-classified cows with a selection that have achieved lactations exceeding 10,000kgs.

An international audience is anticipated – the farm having good airport links nearby – reflecting the herd’s status both at home and abroad.

The auctioneer suggests attendance is “imperative for all committed Holstein enthusiasts”, but expect more than a handful of interested observers at the sidelines attending for the spectacle alone.