Farmer Focus: Multicuts and compact feeding working

I went to Dairy Tech last week. It was refreshing to see the event had been given a lot of thought and there was plenty of interesting items on the agenda.

One talk I was interested in was the Welsh government-funded project at Gelli Aur College. They have been investigating the ability to separate slurry into a solid product, leaving water clean enough to be introduced to the watercourse. 

Although this is some way off, it has to be considered a very exciting prospect given the issues that most of us dairy farmers are having with slurry storage.

See also: How dairy farmers are making four cuts of 11.3ME silage

At home, we try to make the most of the potential value of our slurry, which is made difficult at times as we are in a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ).

Tough applications

Slurry application has become even more important this year. First, due to the rising price of fertiliser and second, because we are embracing the multi-cut forage system.

We experimented with this for the first time last year and we realised some significant benefits in terms of silage quality and are benefitting from improved milk yields now, with cows peaking at 32.5 litres.

Although we are conscious not to follow every perceived gimmick talked about in the press, we have also started compact feeding. This simply involves adding water to our total mixed ration.

Concentrate loading

We load the concentrates the night before and leave it to soak overnight and then add the forage the following morning.

Intakes have improved significantly and our milk constituents have climbed to more than 4% butterfat and 3.4% protein. We are now going to experiment with removing bagged fat from the diet. At last, an idea that isn’t costing us a small fortune to implement.

Away from the farm, my fiancée and I have just returned from our pre-marriage class at her home church. We were asked to write down why we wanted to get married.

I thought would be amusing to include in the list “farm labour/long-term contract”, however, I’m not sure it went down too well with the vicar or my fiancée. Hopefully, the wedding will still be going ahead in September or I may need to find a new calf feeder.

Henry Wilson milks 225 Holsteins on a tenancy alongside his parents Jean and Chris in Alberbury, Shropshire. Cows calve year-round with milk supplied to Muller on a non-aligned contract. Focus is placed on good cow health, fertility and business efficiency.