REPORTS FROM THE SHARP END…

2 June 2000




REPORTS FROM THE SHARP END…

The real world of dairy

farming is reflected in the

experiences of our

livestock producer

contributors. Heres the

latest news from our four

busy producers. Their

reports are from Berkshire,

Co Durham, Stafford

and Sussex

Stephen Brandon

Stephen Brandon farms

100ha (250 acres) at New

Buildings Farm, Stafford,

with another 30ha (73

acres) of grazing taken

annually. He has 170

pedigree Holstein Friesians

and 110 replacements.

Recently he took on a

contract farming agreement

involving a further 160 cows

on 80ha (200 acres)

DESPITE Aprils horrendous weather, cows successfully grazed every day without resorting to silage feeding.

But on a number of occasions they grazed for 4-5 hours and then stood on the yard, with access to cubicles, until going out to grass again after the next milking.

We cut 16ha (40 acres) of silage in mid-May on the contract unit, filling the smaller of two self-feed clamps. In some exceptionally hot May weather the grass was cut and wilted for 24 hours, without tedding, before being chopped. The DM should be somewhere between 25% and 30%. The remaining first cut silage will probably be cut at the end of May on both farms.

Back at home, most of the silage ground has been grazed twice before being shut up. The number of paddocks for silage is constantly increasing with exceptional growth over the first half of May. Growth rates of 92 and 115kg DM/ha a day have been recorded over the first two weeks.

Serving has just gone past three weeks with 83% of the 200 cows already served. Hopefully, remaining cows will be served in the next few weeks, although I have only just calved the last one. The submission rate isnt as high as I would like but we will see how many more come on heat naturally before we bring in the vet. Calving must be more compact in future and so the target is to serve for a maximum of 12 weeks.

This spring we purchased 245 straws of New Zealand Friesian semen, all should be used up after four weeks serving, then it is Angus AI or a stock bull. We chose Angus for ease of calving and its shorter gestation length.

Recently, I have been looking at the new parlour and our routine to fine tune milking. Advice from other farmers, with similar systems, has been useful.

The latest advice has been to involve a mastitis and parlour consultant from across the Irish Sea. She has picked up on some more points, the main one being stray voltage – which could explain some cows fidgeting. &#42

Hot May weather brought welcome relief from horrendous April conditions for Stephen Brandon and his spring calved milking cows.


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