Page 1


Top herd: the 2019

NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winner

Reducing dairying’s carbon footprint through breeding

Producing and feeding

home-grown forage


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5 6 10 18 47 49 53 57 58

main article home-grown feeds

From the editor Cow talk Value added: barista milk Roger Evans ForFarmers Nutritional News/ Thompsons Nutritional News CRV Avoncroft Breeding Information NMR Dairy Management News Boehringer Ingelheim Health News Events and contacts MAIN A RT IC L E

8 What are the options for UK-sourced feeds? REPORT

12 First time ‘lucky’ for Gold Cup winning herd FEEDIN G

16 Award-winning approach to producing forage/Harnessing data to improve grass utilisation SERIES CA RB ON FOOT PRIN T

20 Genetics key to sustainable dairying

8 series carbon footprint


25 Contractor communication and adding resilience

special forage


44 Technology proves its worth 50 Survey shows progress towards BVD BREEDI N G

54 40,000 100-tonners – and still counting




9 Top herd: the 201

NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winner g’s Reducing dairyin carbon footprint

through breeding

feeding Producing and

home-grown forage





Robert Sloan:

Phil Asbury:

“Cow health, welfare and comfort are our top priority”

“A good, early start is key to a successful grazing season”

.UK 27-02-20 15:38



First bite: a cow savours some early spring grazing Picture: Els Korsten


35 cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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28-02-2020 13:18


Forage focus

offers help this spring There have been several weeks of wet weather – extremely wet in some areas – as CowManagement goes to press. Flooding has been, and still is, a serious issue on some units and grassland and other crops, not to mention livestock, will struggle even when the water retreats. Our spring issue takes a timely look at forage, from crop and seed selection through to feeding. See page 25. We think it’ll be particularly interesting for producers looking to reseed this spring or to plug forage gaps later in the year. And, with a close eye on how the weather continues, we’ll have more useful features on home-grown forages as the year progresses. We also take a look at the options for producers wanting to increase UK-grown and sourced feeds in cow rations, in a bid to reduce their reliance on soya. And, tying in with the environmental theme, this issue also sees the final part in our series on reducing dairying’s carbon footprint, which focuses on breeding.

Today’s dairy cow is already considerably more efficient than she was just 10 years ago and much of it down to breeding alone. And there’s more to come. We spoke to the UK’s leading dairying geneticists to find out more about the latest research and a new ‘efficiency’ index, that’s on the horizon. Our herd report profiles the 2019 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winners – the Sloan family. Rob and Emma run the family’s Holstein and Jersey herds, at Auchinleck near Ayr, with Rob’s parents Bryce and Anne. We share some of the secrets to their success – and their joy on lifting the industry’s most prestigious award – starting on page 12. And we’ll bring you news on a date for the annual Gold Cup winner open day soon. That promises to be an enjoyable and interesting day out. Someone who’s no stranger to awards ceremonies is our regular columnist Roger Evans. He shares his ‘fashionista’ past and tales about calf jackets on page 18.


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Easy-to-use colostrum bags are also re-usable A re-usable colostrum bag has been launched by Dairy Spares. The Trusti Colostrum Bag is the only re-usable bag on the market and is designed with a large surface area to speed freezing and thawing, a robust and convenient handle for holding or hanging, and a wide neck for faster filling and easier cleaning. Bags hold up to four litres of colostrum and are suitable for use in pasteurisers. New Zealand-based company Antahi, which designed and produces the bags, says that they are robust enough for five uses, making them a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice

than single-use colostrum bags. Thorough cleaning and sterilisation of bags between uses is vital and clear instructions are provided. The bags are available in starter kits of four or 10 bags, together with two different feeding tubes. The four-bag kit costs £67.90 plus VAT, and the 10-bag kit costs £84.90 plus VAT. Bags are also available in packs of 10, retailing at £42.90 plus VAT, and packs of 50, retailing at £179.00 plus VAT. The company also offers a cleaning brush – with blue fibres for safe use in other milk vessels – to clean the bags, which costs £9.35 plus VAT.

Separator reduces overall slurry volume Legislation relating to slurry storage, coupled with high rainfall, is forcing some producer to make significant investments to manage ever increasing volumes of slurry. But Stallkamp is offering a slurry separator that reduces contaminants, removes solids and offers producers a way to reduce the volume of stored slurry. The company launched the PSS 2.2-400 ComPress at Agritechnica in 2019 and has now made it available in the UK through Tramspread. “Storing slurry has been hard for many

producers this winter because rainfall has been so high,” says the company’s John Tydeman. “Separating is a cost-effective way to reduce the overall volume of slurry. It also creates a more manageable solid manure and a better quality liquid slurry, which is easier to apply using dribble bars or a trailing shoe.” The machine uses a screw pump to suck slurry through a contaminant filter, which removes foreign objects such as stones and rubber-mat residues. The filtered slurry is then transferred to a separator with either a 0.5mm or 1mm screen.

This extracts the dry matter and leaves a nutrient-rich liquid. The dry fraction offers some producers another source of income because it can be sold for arable use. But most can utilise it as bedding material, because it has an estimated 30% dry matter. “The liquid only loses approximately 10% of its N, P and K value, so is still a valuable input for grassland,” adds Mr Tydeman. “It also benefits from the filtration process, which removes potentially harmful impurities and helps grass to absorb the nutrients more efficiently.”

Sensors monitor dairy chemical levels Producers can now receive text messages, alerting up to five mobile contacts about low levels of hygiene chemical. Ecolab Textomatic from UK hygiene chemical distributor, Progiene, is an electronic, low-level alarm system that can monitor six containers at a time for the early detection and intervention for all farm cleaning chemicals, teat dips and footbath solutions. Once chemical drums have reached a level pre-programmed by the users, text messages will be sent out to inform contacts that new supply is needed. The sensor was developed to improve the safety and efficiency of monitoring dairy hygiene chemicals, while safeguarding farms from the financial implications of running out products. “Bulk tank chemical, for example, is the most common hygiene product that farms run out of due to its high-volume use and being stored in an area that isn’t often frequented,” says


the company’s Alison Clark. “Drums tend to be between 200 and 1,000 litres in capacity and in solid colours, so levels can’t easily be determined from the outside. And manually

assessing the inside of drums, particularly those reaching 1,000 litre capacity, comes with safety issues.” The alarm system features a controller box, which operates on mains electric and can pick up signals from six sensors at a time. The sensors, which are available for five- to 25-litre drums and 200- to 1,000-litre drums, can be pre-programmed by producers for what supply level they want to be alerted at. Working on a 3G network, the system will send a text message to up to five contacts about which drum has a low supply and the hygiene chemical it contains. For farms in low mobile signal areas, an aerial antenna can be used to boost it. A backup LED alarm is also installed on site to alert personnel working close to the unit. The system is available for purchase, but offered free to both current and new customers using its hygiene products.

cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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What are the options for U Public concern around the environmental impact of food production is increasing the focus on feeds sourced from within the UK. But what options are available? And how do they affect milk production and feed costs? TEXT ROLY MARKS


he issues around soyabean meal are a good example of how public concerns can influence feed choice. So says KW nutritionist Charlotte Ward. “The rate and extent of deforestation associated with South American soyabean production has been big news, and some milk producers are already feeling the pressure. “Those supplying Waitrose, for example, are no longer allowed to use soyabean-based feeds, and both Sainsbury’s and Barber’s have surveyed their producers about the source of any soyabean-based feeds being included in rations,” she says. And the level of scrutiny being applied to dairy feeds is only likely to increase in the future. Carbon footprinting is becoming viable within the agricultural sector, and the Brexit-induced weakening of Sterling has highlighted the price risks associated with imported feeds. So what are the alternatives? “Most of the rapeseed

Table 1: Comparison of nutrient supply from UK-sourced proteins

DM energy CP DUP DUP value (%) (MJ ME/kg DM) (g/kg DM) (g/kg DM) (p/100g DUP)1) Xylig-treated rapeseed expeller 89 rapeseed meal 88.5 rapeseed expeller 89 field beans 86 peas 86.6

12.9 11.8 13.2 13.1 13.5

348 375 354 280 236

190 113 113 39 32

15.12) 20.7 20.6 59.3 71.1

1) Based on Apr-Jun delivery, 29t tipped bulk loads, 50 miles haulage. Correct at time of writing and subject to change. 2) versus 17.4p/100g DUP for soyabean meal at 200g DUP/kg DM.

Table 2: Comparison of nutrient supply from UK-produced energy feeds

DM energy CP starch (%) (MJ ME/kg DM) (g/kg DM) (g/kg DM) rolled wheat2) rolled barley2) sugar beet feed (molassed) sugar beet feed (unmolassed) sodawheat3)

87 86.5 89 89 65

13.6 13.1 12.5 12.5 13.2

120 116 9.5 9.5 11

660 595 10 0 600

p/10 MJ ME1) 15.05 13.85 16.36 16.36 18.94

1) Based on Apr-Jun delivery, 29t tipped bulk loads, 50 miles haulage. Correct at time of writing and subject to change. 2) Includes on-farm rolling cost of £10/t. 3) Predominantly UK-grown wheat.


meal sold in the UK is likely to be locally grown and processed, though if supply is tight, any one of the three UK crush facilities may import rapeseed to meet demand,” says Ms Ward.

Alternative proteins Of the other protein feeds grown here, whole peas (19,000 tonnes) and field beans (768,000 tonnes) are poor value for ruminants, while all domestic sunflower seed (3,000 tonnes) goes into bird seed. And there are limits to how much of linseed (52,000 tonnes) can be fed because the high unsaturated oil content can negatively affects butterfats. Sourcing high quality protein to replace soyabean meal (annual imports exceed one million tonnes) is a particular challenge. “Around 12,000 tonnes of whole soyabeans were grown in the UK during 2018, but the most promising alternatives are the rapeseed expellerbased feeds being processed in Stratford-Upon-Avon from UK-grown rapeseed,” says Ms Ward. “Rapeseed actually contains better quality protein for milk production, in terms of amino acid profile, than soyabean meal,” she adds. The xylig-treated rapeseed expeller, introduced in 2019, is a genuine UK-sourced alternative to soyabean meal. The process involves treating the rapeseed expeller with a wood-derived natural sugar (xylig) under heat and pressure. According to University of Nottingham research,

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or UK-sourced feeds?

it can potentially increase daily milk output by up to 1.7 litres per cow. It contains similar levels of rumen-bypass protein – digestible undegraded protein or DUP – as those in soyabean meal and is better value (see Table 1). The Stratford-produced rapeseed expeller meal is also a higher energy alternative to rapeseed meal. “These feeds are already used widely to reduce compound usage and extend forage stocks, but their value beyond simple nutrient supply is often overlooked,” says Ms Ward. “When you factor in the greater price stability, the potential improvement in nutrient intake and the lower environmental footprint, their appeal is even greater. In fact, in one University of Reading trial, replacing a third of the grass silage in a ration with brewers’ grains increased average daily milk yield by 3.7 litres per cow.”

Energy options For dedicated energy feeds, the most obvious option is home-grown cereals. But it’s important to realise that substantial volumes of wheat are imported into the UK each year. If you want to buy feeds that are genuinely UK-sourced, you’ll need to check their origin carefully, according to Ms Ward. “Caustic soda-treated wheat, or sodawheat, is manufactured in the UK and uses predominantly UK-grown wheat, but some of it is imported. So there’s a difference between UK-manufactured and UK-sourced,” she explains.

In contrast, sugar beet feed is both UK-grown and manufactured, with around 100,000 hectares of sugar beet grown annually. Available molassed or unmolassed, it’s recognised as a valuable source of digestible fibre that can improve rumen function and increase butterfats, and is great for balancing starchy feeds in the ration (see Table 2). “Imported sugar beet feed is also widely available and, in years of high demand, it is often the only choice at certain times of the year. If you want to secure UK-sourced material, it’s worth booking early,” says Ms Ward.

Caustic soda-treated wheat, or sodawheat, is manufactured in the UK and uses predominantly UK-grown wheat

Co-product feeds There is a wide range of co-product feeds produced in the UK as secondary outputs from the food industry. Examples include the confectionery, biscuit and breakfast cereal blends, and processed bread. “But since the origin cereals are just as likely to be imported as UK-grown, or a mix of the two, they’re not strictly UK-sourced feeds. They’re probably a lower carbon footprint alternative to imported feeds, and typically don’t suffer the same price volatility. So they are worth considering as part of an overall strategy to reduce reliance on imported feeds.” There are also a number of UK-produced dual-purpose feeds, primarily moist and liquid co-products. The main UK-sourced options all add considerable palatability to rations and reduce sorting. And they have the added advantage of driving intakes and improving nutrient intake consistency. l

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Name Joe Towers Herd size 380 cows Adding value barista milk


Latte-art and frothy perfection Adding value is not only about milk processing – to produce a milk specifically for the barista market – but it’s also about adding traceability and reducing the environmental impact of dairying for one Lancashire-based business. Brades Farm Barista Milk is produced by the Tower family’s 380-cow herd of Holstein Friesians and Danish Jerseys. The latter were introduced to the unit in 2015 and produce milk with the ideal protein-and-fat ratio that makes the perfect barista milk. “We keep milk from the two groups of cows separate and only blend it after on-farm lab analysis, when the milk tanker arrives, so we can produce a milk with consistent milk proteins,” explains Joe Towers, who farms in partnership with his brother Edward and his parents April and John at Farleton. He adds that they started to develop the idea of producing barista milk in 2015 and launched it in 2016. “We knew there was a demand – we’d been approached by a barista in London to supply them direct with milk. Frothy coffee, to taste it’s best, requires high protein milk – at least 3.6% – so that it foams well and is good for ‘silky latte art’ and holds the pattern created for longer. “Butterfat is important too – about 4.5% is the sweet spot. And


it’s important that the milk is not homogenised,” explains Joe. Currently between 60,000 and 70,000 litres are processed each week, in a plant in nearby Preston, into two-litre bottles. Around 90% is distributed in London, with the remainder sold to coffee shops in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, York, Leeds and other cities in the Midlands. “We supply around 600 coffee shops and bars,” says Joe. His first London-based client was also interested in traceability – something that the Tower’s herd is able to offer. And, thanks to the addition of a feed additive in 2018 that improves rumen function and reduces methane emissions, they’ve also been offering ‘climate smart’ milk to the market. “We ran a 12-week pilot study with Scotland Rural College (SRUC) on all our cows. No other conditions were changed. Weekly methane output was measured using laser technology and the results showed an average 30% reduction. That’s the equivalent of taking 133 family cars off the road each year,” adds Joe. “We’ve just begun adding ‘Climate Smart’ stickers to our bottles to highlight the milk’s ‘green’ credentials. And we hope that sales will continue to grow. It’s certainly another USP that we can add to our product and one that will help us increase sales.”

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ForFarmers, the total feed business ForFarmers supplies a full range of: • Compound feeds • Blended feeds • Straights • Co-products • Minerals & buckets • Rumen Protected Fats • Calf milk replacers • Seeds, Fertiliser and Silage Additives Products, advice and services available nationwide For more information: 0330 678 0982 @ForFarmersUK

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TMR feeding: a robot is used to regularly push feed up to the barrier

First-time ‘lucky’

for Gold Cup-winning herd We spoke to the winner of the 2019 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup to find out how his family’s Ayrshire-based dairy business wowed the judges and lifted the dairy industry’s most coveted trophy. TEXT JENNIFER MACKENZIE


obert Sloan is still reeling from the surprise of winning the 2019 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup. He says that it was a thrill to make it through to the final six and that he really didn’t expect his name to be called out at the award presentation in February. “Everyone dreams of winning the UK dairy industry’s most prestigious award. Just to be shortlisted is an amazing achievement. Winning was the icing on the cake.” And the best feedback from the judges was a


comment about how well his cows looked. “That, for me, was the ultimate compliment. It’s what we set out to do every day – look after the cows as well as possible. Everything else – good health, fertility, efficiency and productivity – should then follow. Cow health, welfare and comfort are our top priority and for someone to recognise that – and for it to be one of the reasons why we won – well, that really made my day.” Robert runs the 180-cow Townlaw Holstein herd,

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COMPANY PROFILE System Farm size Feeding Milk buyer

all-year-round calving 205 hectares TMR, with individuals topped up with concentrate via the robots Graham’s Dairy

SCC Calving interval

Holstein herd 180 cows 11,980kg, 3.99% butterfat and 3.13% protein 116,000 cells/ml 427 days

Herd size Average yield SCC Calving interval

Jersey herd 60 cows 7,115kg at 6.02% fat, 4.01% protein 79,000 cells/ml 394 days

Herd size Average yield

at Darnlaw Farm in Auchinleck near Ayr, with his parents, Bryce and Anne, and wife, Emma. The Sloan family has adopted a proactive approach to succession and Robert, who’s 37, became a partner in the business when he was 24. He says that his youthful enthusiasm and his father’s experience and wisdom has driven the business forward during the past decade.

Flexible working The herd has been based at Darnlaw for more than 40 years and in 2011 the decision was made to switch to robotic milking, in a new purpose-built shed on a greenfield site at the farm. “Back then we needed to start milking three times a day to improve the welfare and longevity of our 120 high yielding cows. But finding staff who were prepared to do this and to work the antisocial hours was a challenge,” says Robert. “So, instead, we decided to install robots.” The herd is housed all year round and milked through three Lely robots. “Our system works well. We employ three local men and each staff member Robert and Emma Sloan were presented with the industry’s most prestigious award at Dairy-Tech 2020


NMR/RADBF Gold Cup 2019 winners, Robert and Bryce Sloan

works up to 50 hours a week – but rarely more than four and a half days a week. This gives our staff time to pursue their own interests and have time off at the weekend. “The level of automation on our farm allows for flexible working hours with minimal anti-social labour requirements,” he adds. “Everyone has their own individual responsibilities, but they are also expected to step in and provide relief for any job on the farm. It is this diversity that keeps everyone challenged and motivated.” Another major change and ‘diversification’ took place in 2016 when they took the opportunity to fulfil a specialist Jersey milk contract from milk buyer Graham’s Dairy and established Darnlaw Jerseys. This herd of 60 cows is run separately and milked twice a day through the original parlour, grazing in summer and housed in winter.

Robotic system “We started with two robots in 2011 and added the third in 2013. When we established the Jersey herd we reduced the number of Holstein cows from 220 to 180 and we stopped milking the late-lactation Holstein cows through the parlour, keeping this strictly for the Jerseys,” says Robert. The 180 Holsteins – 43 classified EX and 76 classified VG – currently in the herd milk well on the robotic system, which is reflected in their yields and longevity. “In 2018 we had eight 100-tonne cows, a herd replacement rate of 19%, and an average lifetime yield of 46,000kg. The herd was placed first on combined production and inspection in the Scottish herds competition. And we were also recognised in 2018 with a Master Breeder award from Holstein UK,” adds Robert. Despite running two herds with different management styles, the Sloan family’s priority is cattle health, welfare and longevity. All cattle are bred to maintain and improve functional type. “Our robotic system allows us to run extended lactations on certain cows. Long, level lactation

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Jersey herd: milk is sold to Graham’s Dairy

curves are a key component to the longevity of our cows, with breeding decisions and rations formulated to encourage this,” says Robert. Further investment was made in calf housing in 2018. Calves are reared in individual pens for the first seven days before being batched in groups of 20 on an automatic feeder. Calves are weaned at 64 days old and moved as a batch with an all-in-all-out approach, which allows pens to be thoroughly washed, disinfected and given time to dry before the next batch. Calve growth rates average 0.89kg live weight gain per day. Providing a regular income stream are pedigree cattle sales, both Holstein and Jersey, which account for 15% of income and in 2018 were equivalent to more than 6ppl. “The Jerseys are usually sold as in-calf heifers, served to a black Limousin bull. Holstein heifers are sold freshly calved and there is an increasing demand for robot-trained cattle as more producers are using these systems,” says Robert.

Top priority Cow cleanliness is a top priority and a Clusterflush system operates in the parlour with Pura steam on the robots to prevent cross contamination. Cows are bedded with sawdust and hydrated lime on mattresses. Any cases of mastitis are sampled and frozen in case of a major breakdown, to allow samples to be cultured quickly to identify the strain of mastitis that’s causing the problem. “E-coli can be a problem here,” adds Robert. “With the removal of critically important antibiotics as a safety net for any of these cases, we have started


vaccinating the herd for mastitis to hopefully further prevent antibiotic usage.” He adds that lame cows and robots ‘do not mix’. “Any form of lameness is treated as an emergency. We have an extremely proactive foot health policy. Foot baths twice a week and udder cleft conditioning means that there have been no cases of digital dermatitis during the past 24 months.”

Family-run unit Both herds are fed a silage-based TMR. The Jerseys are fed 0.9kg blend and 1.8kg alpha wheat and topped up to yield in the parlour to a maximum of 5kg concentrate. The Holsteins are fed 1.8kg blend, with 4.5kg of alpha wheat, 1.2kg molasses, and 4kg of draff, and they are fed concentrate to yield in the robot to 12kg a day. With heavy clay soils and 1,422mm of annual rainfall, forage is based solely on grass silage and some wholecrop spring wheat. They make enough first-cut grass silage off 134 hectares to feed all the cows all year. “Being a family-run unit means that we can change direction quickly in what can be volatile market conditions. In the short term, our Jersey contract is our biggest opportunity – the milk is used for specialist high-end products such as gold top milk, skyr and high protein yoghurt,” says Robert. “With a shortage of young people entering the dairy industry, our system and work environment will hopefully encourage the next generation. And the challenging skill set we require should ultimately relate to a salary comparable to any professional career.” l

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Award-winning approach to producing forage An eye on future challenges and a desire to increase business sustainability means that a focus on forage has become even more important to one dairying couple. TEXT JAMES MARSHALL


educing bought-in feed costs by increasing utilisation of home-grown forage has always been a key objective for one Devon-based producer. Since taking on Waterford Farm, on a Devon County Council tenancy in 2015, Chris Creeper and his wife Connie have worked hard to develop their Axminsterbased herd and producing large volumes of high-quality forage has been a fundamental business objective. “For us it is all about getting better, not necessarily getting bigger,” explains Chris. “We want to be as selfsufficient as possible. Producing high quality homegrown forage, as well as having cows that can best utilise it, is key to us achieving this objective. “Our drive to make the most of what we can produce ourselves has influenced everything from the breed of cows in our herd and what we feed, through to the farm’s reseeding schedule, our approach to silaging, and future crop rotations. We want to keep ahead of future developments and plan our forage policy to help mitigate against the challenges we shall face in the future.”

Forage ‘cornerstone’

Maize silage: a vital source of home-grown starch in the milking herd’s ration


The pair currently manage a herd of 140 milkers, comprising Holstein Friesians, Jerseys and Ayrshires. The Holsteins produce an average of 31.2 litres per day and the remaining breeds an average of 22.3 litres. Butterfat currently stands at 5.36%, with protein at 3.66%, and all milk is supplied to Saputo on a Dairy Crest contract. Chris is keen to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to feeding and it is no surprise that forage forms the cornerstone of the herd’s diet. “We aim to house cows for six months of the year and have them out at grass for six months,” explains Chris. “When they are housed, they are fed maize silage, grass silage, and some urea through the mixer wagon, at a total rate of 4.4kg per cow per day, topped up to yield via the parlour on an 18% protein concentrate. “During the grazing period we will buffer feed with a 16% protein concentrate and also feed some chopped round bale silage through the mixer wagon to provide fibre.” When the couple first took on the farm tenancy, Chris

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high fibre silage that would require significant concentrate supplementation to make up for nutritional shortfalls. “The multi-cut system means that we take a good quality cut early in the season – around mid-April – and then keep taking cuts as and when required; ideally when grass is in the two-and-a-half-leaf stage. We mow and ted and, by having our own kit, we can get the grass off when it’s at its best.” Grass silage results have been good with the latest silage analysis recording 35.7% dry matter, 18% protein, 12.2 MJ/kg ME, and a D value of 76.

Targeted approach

Chris Creeper: “We plan our forage policy to help mitigate against the challenges we shall face in the future”

quickly established that many of the grass leys needed reseeding. “Most of the grass on the 74 hectare farm had been permanent pasture and the quality of the grass needed to be improved dramatically,” he says.

Reseeding policy Chris consulted with ForFarmers’ Louise Woolacott and embarked on a wide-scale reseeding policy to rejuvenate the grass leys, aiming to reseed 12 hectares a year. Five years later, 95% of the farm has been reseeded and only a small section of flood-affected land remains. “The plan is to ensure that we have no leys above four years old, because it is at this stage that weed grasses start to appear and grass quality diminishes. We talk to Louise regularly and currently use ForFarmers TOPGRASS varieties to provide the type of quick growing, high sugar, highly digestible grass we need.” Chris has also embraced a multi-cut approach to silaging and is pleased with the results that he has achieved. “When operating a more conventional approach to silaging, cuts were often taken too late, when the grass was in the three-leaf stage of development,” he explains. “This resulted in some

To maximise the quality of grass grown at Waterford Farm, and to minimise the use of bought-in fertiliser, soil and slurry samples are regularly analysed to help formulate targeted fertiliser plans. “We need to know the N, P and K values in the soil to help identify areas of nutrient deficiency. Our slurry is also analysed so we can then come up with a detailed fertiliser plan, identifying which areas of fields need which inputs and whether our slurry is able to provide these, and at the right levels. “Our milk contract demands more fat and protein, so we needed to increase the starch in the cows’ ration,” explains Chris. “We decided to plant 12 hectares of maize in 2019 to add to the ration. “I hadn’t grown maize before, so decided to grow Pioneer 7034 and 7036 – both varieties that we thought were ‘bomb proof’ given our lack of experience. He harvested the maize early and yields were good, at around 44 tonnes per hectare, with the silage analysing at 12 MJ/kg ME, a D value of 76.2, and starch at 32.9%. “We treated the maize with a 11 CFT additive and the resulting silage has been stable – there is minimal waste at the top of the clamp. ” “Our aim is to be as self-sufficient as possible and lucerne seems like a sensible thing for us to grow in the future,” he says. “Soya is just going to get more expensive and there are the environmental issues associated with its use. So it makes sense for us to grow as much of our protein requirements on the farm as we can.” l

Jerseys help to increase the level of milk constituents produced by the herd

Cow comfort: rumination is key to making the most of home-grown forage

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Shropshire-based producer and columnist Roger Evans says that calf jackets are about more than making a fashion statement.

Smart dresser I can remember the first time I saw calf jackets advertised. I remember thinking that they were quite a good idea. They would help to direct the energy that was being used to keep a calf warm to growth. What I had not foreseen was that some producers would use them routinely, on all calves, whereas I had seen their role as for use on just ailing calves. A sort of halfway house before you put them under a heat lamp. I have tried to fashion calf jackets myself, many times. There was a time when we would get stuff delivered in hessian sacks. These could be put on a calf and make a jacket of sorts. When hessian sacks couldn’t be had, we used hundred-weight fertiliser bags. These were not as warm as hessian, but they would keep the draught out. Then they also became hard to come by. In desperation, I have to confess to putting calves in the jacket that I was wearing at the time. It used to be a bit of a struggle threading the calves front legs through the sleeves, but a calf in a wax jacket was quite smart and made a bit of a bovine fashion statement. Inevitably the jacket would be on the floor in the straw next morning and would have patches of yellow stuff on it. It would never be worn by me again, which made it quite an expensive exercise. The only reservation I have is that I think that animals should be able to survive in the management system to which they were bred. It’s the New Zealand idea of natural selection. If an animal can’t thrive in your system, you don’t breed from it and so those particular genes die with the animal. It sounds a bit brutal, and sometimes it is, but that way lies the answer to so many of our problems. Not the least of which, and probably the most important, is to reduce the amounts of antibiotics we use in farm animals. It’s all about perception. I can still remember going to a big show, I think it was the Royal, and I was still in my 20s. We visited the cattle lines and there was a big line-up of Jerseys from one breeder. It was summertime, but all these Jerseys had coats on. I can still remember that these coats were all navy blue. What a disservice they were doing to the breed. They were saying, very publicly, that Jersey cattle need more looking after than other breeds. Now, all these years later we know the opposite to be true. Jerseys are well able to survive and thrive in big herds in a competitive environment. There are probably more Jersey genes in the UK dairy herd today, in crossbreds and pure cattle, than there have ever been. We don’t need to put Jersey cows in navy blue coats and wax jackets look better on me. Marginally.

“A calf in a wax jacket was quite smart and made a bit of a bovine fashion statement”


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Maize Seed Treatment Protect against the odds @LGSeedsUK

Tel: 01472 371471

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Here, in the final article in our series, we look at how producers can improve efficiency and reduce GHG emissions through breeding and what this means for both businesses and the environment.

Part 1 Assessing your herd’s carbon footprint Part 2 Improving feed efficiency to reduce nitrogen losses and CH4 emissions Part 3 Grassland management to improve nitrogen utilisation, losses and increase carbon sequestration Part 4 Manure management to reduce nitrogen losses through ammonia and N2O emissions Part 5 Breeding to reduce dairying’s carbon footprint

Genetics key to

sustainable dairying Breeding should be the foundation for any producer looking to reduce their herd’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. And the good news is that most, if not all, dairy cows are considerably ‘greener’ than they were 10 years ago. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


igures show that modern breeding for more efficient, healthy and productive cows has already gone quite a way towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from UK herds, that are declining at a rate of 1% each year through breeding. And there’s more good news – faster progress could be made with a renewed focus on sire selection to reduce carbon footprint (CFP) and with relatively little effort, and with no additional cost. “We just need a little more precision,” says AHDB Dairy’s Marco Winters. “What we’ve achieved so far, in terms of reducing the CFP of dairying through breeding, has been a side effect of simply breeding better, longer-lasting and more productive cows. Fewer cows are producing the same, if not more, milk from the same resources. Efficiency here has reduced GHG emissions.”

Cow stature One thing that producers can focus on immediately is cow size or stature. Talking to producers, they all say that they don’t want to milk bigger cows – they recognise that smaller animals are more efficient to maintain. Yet this doesn’t seem to translate on farm. Many cows are still tall and getting taller and heavier. Perhaps it’s being missed when producers are selecting sires to use on their herds,” says Mr Winters. “So I’d urge producers to be mindful of the size of their cows – and the sires they’re using. And look at the maintenance index when selecting bulls too. This


will help them to avoid breeding daughters with increased stature. “I think things are still a bit ‘woolly’ around this. The introduction of a feed intake index will certainly help to focus minds a little better.” Work to produce a feed-efficiency index is, indeed, ongoing, with geneticist Eileen Wall and her team at SRUC. “We’ve a wealth of data, thanks to SRUC and NMR, and we’re using this to see how we can develop a breeding index to allow producers to select for better feed conversion efficiency,” says Mr Winters. The plan is to launch just such an index in 2020. “We may call it the ‘feed saved’ index. We’re still working on the best description, but it will help producers to improve feed efficiency and continue the downward trend in GHG emissions and dairying’s carbon footprint.” Prof Wall is also working on a rumen microbiome project. “This has, so far, predominantly focused on sheep and beef cattle but we are looking at dairy cattle,” she explains. Studies are determining the difference in microbiome (the type and numbers of different bugs in the rumen) between different breeds and the effect, within breeds, that microbiome has on feed efficiency. “We’ve looked at concentrate versus forage-based rations. The latter are key to good rumen function, but when fibre is broken down by rumen bugs some of the protein they produce, which goes into milk and/or meat production, is belched out as methane.

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So we’re looking to see how both microbiome and the ration being fed affects methane production. Ultimately, we’d like to determine the ideal microbiome to maximise feed efficiency and minimise GHG emissions.” There’s potential to breed cattle that have better feed efficiency. “But there’s still a lot of work to do and there are other factors to consider such as ‘does the cow eat little and often or have one or two big meals a day? Is she a fast eater or does she eat slowly? And is she dominant in the herd or submissive – what’s her behaviour at the feed fence?’

Feed efficiency All these factors will also impact on rumen microbiome and pH and feed efficiency and there are others that also need to be taken into account. Other studies are looking at when the cow ‘acquires’ her microbiome. Is it at weaning? Is it from the environment or her dam? Or her sire? Can we ‘inoculate’ the calf to stimulate the growth of the ideal microbiome to maximise feed efficiency? “So many questions and they all require thorough research to answer them. We’re at the start of this journey.” Prof Wall says that, potentially, the work will help to develop a tool to select for cows that produce less methane and offer greater feed efficiency, without compromising health, fertility or productivity. Tom Gill from Promar International agrees that,

when it comes to reducing cows’ carbon footprint and GHG emissions, size matters. “If the maintenance requirement of a cow is greater – which it is for larger cows – then her carbon footprint is also bigger. There’s no getting away from that,” he says, adding that genetics and fertility also account for a proportion of her overall footprint. “A more efficient cow in terms of her productivity – including feed conversion to milk and reproductive performance – will have a lower carbon footprint.” More efficient genetics, he adds, are not necessarily the same as high genetic merit. “Formula 1 cars are the most efficient on the racetrack, but they wouldn’t be the best option for your daily commute to work. The same can be said for cows – their genetics must suit the system they’re being managed on. It’s about utilising the best ‘tech’ or genetics to get top quality and efficient milk production while, at the same time, lowering or minimising your GHG emissions. Holsteins, for example, are not the best

Cow size: stature and feed efficiency are all key to reducing GHG emissions

Marco Winters: “A feed intake index will help producers to make better breeding decisions” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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Greater efficiency: some cows are better at converting feed protein into milk and have lower methane emissions

breed if you’re running a tight spring block calving herd on a kiwi-style grazing system.” Cross-bred dairy cattle certainly win here and have a lower CFP than their black-and-white counterparts. “Norwegian Red, and other coloured breeds, tend to produce higher milk solids. Data shows that they are more efficient converters forage, particularly grass, into milk,” says Mr Gill. For those wanting to stick with Holsteins, most, if not all, sires for sale offer improved efficiency and this is heavily correlated with reduced GHG emissions and a lower carbon footprint. “If producers are more discerning when it comes to sire selection and keep maintenance index and GHG emissions in mind, much larger strides could be made to reducing the CFP through breeding. Couple this approach with all the other aspects of herd and manure management that can reduce GHG emissions and the 1% reduction currently being seen each year through breeding alone could easily

Tom Gill: “Genomic testing of females presents an opportunity to make a lot of progress” 22

move closer to 10%.” He cites work on beef breeding, which shows that choice of sire alone can reduce the CFP of a finished beef animal by 11%. “Selecting for better feed efficiency meant that cattle were fit for slaughter 113 days earlier than the control – that’s 113 days of feed saved.” To achieve this a high quality ration must be well balanced to ensure good conversion to milk or meat. “But this example shows what can be achieved already. We’re only just scratching the surface – imagine what would be possible if researchers and producers really put their minds to it.”

Genomic testing Mr Gill thinks that the potential of genomic testing females is also being underestimated when it comes to reducing CFP. “Again, there’s an opportunity here to make a lot of progress – and quickly – towards better efficiency and lower GHG emissions. “Too many producers are still on a ‘breeding’ path that costing them a lot of money and isn’t offering benefits either up or down the chain,” adds Mr Gill. “Any steps taken to reduce GHG emissions and the herd and business’ CFP will, by default, improve efficiency. Producers will see a significant financial return. “The two are inextricably linked and the business will be more sustainable both environmentally and economically. It’s a win-win.” l

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LOOSE COWS AT GRASS ARE NOT INEVITABLE! We all know that when cows are grazing lush grass they go ‘a bit loose’ which is a real inconvenience at milking time. Loose manure can also indicate poor rumen digestion due to sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA), particularly if gas bubbles and undigested fibres are visible. The financial implications of compromised rumen function are significant. Milk quality can be reduced, and cows will not milk to their potential. One farming couple who know all about the challenges of managing cows at grass are Kevin Gleeson and Anne Sugrue who lease 65ha in Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary. They run 147 mainly spring calving Holstein cows, averaging 7,500L/year and 570kg milk solids per year from 1300kg of concentrate. Two herds run between a Lely A4 Robot and a herringbone parlour. “We were approached by Bryan Buckley from Lallemand to see if we would take part in a live yeast (Levucell SC) trial using our Lely robot herd for the 2019 grazing season,” explains Kevin. “We have good results with Lallemand’s silage inoculant so agreed to the yeast trial, but after having difficulty sorting the dispenser for the robot we didn’t get things started until May. This made me a bit skeptical of seeing a benefit since we’d missed the early lush spring grass.”

feed efficiency cows can digest and utilise grass better and Levucell SC has been proven to increase milk yield and quality. Bryan Buckley explains, “Of the 55 robotmilked cows, we allocated 27 to receive Levucell SC (1X1010 cfu/h/d) based on days in milk and yield with the remaining 28 receiving no additional supplementation to their 5kgs of 14% cereal based dairy nut. In addition to the robot’s recorded performance data we investigated key visual indicators of rumen efficiency on three occasions during the four month trial.” The cows supplemented with Levucell SC produced on average 0.5L more milk per day with significantly higher fats and proteins (see table) than the non-supplemented cows. Control

Levucell SC

Milk yield (kg/d)


29.22 (+0.52)*

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Milk fat (%)




Unsupplemented cow

During the trial Kevin and Anne noticed a difference in manure quality amongst the robot milked cows with unsupplemented cows being much looser. The supplemented cows were considerably cleaner throughout the trial (see photo). “Once we saw the difference we made the decision to put our other herd onto Levucell SC ,” says Kevin. “It didn’t take long for these cows to start presenting much cleaner in the herringbone parlour, confirming the results seen in the robot. Having completed the trial and run the figures, the additional milk solids versus the cost of the yeast gave a return on investment of 6:1 and we’ve asked our feed supplier to include Levucell SC TITAN in our dairy nuts for this year.” Levucell SC can be included in minerals, blends or compound feeds in its protected format, Levucell SC TITAN. It is also available as a farm pack which can be mixed or top-dressed with farm rations. For more information, please contact your Regional Business Manager or call us on 01684 891055. Levucell SC supplemented cow

Selected by Lallemand Animal Nutrition with INRA in France, the rumen specific live yeast Levucell SC (Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077) helps increase fibre digestion and stabilise rumen pH – reducing the risk of Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA). Through improved rumen function and

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FORAGE 26 Contractor communication Early silage planning can pay dividends.

30 Adding resilience Grow alternative forages to mitigate risk.

33 Additive advice Protecting the value of silage.

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Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good to talk


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Producers should be having a conversation with their contractor now to plan grass silage making – particularly if they’ve adopted a multi-cut system. We spoke to a producer, a contractor and a grassland specialist to find out why. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


ontractors are key to making high-quality silage and producers will reap the benefit of good lines of communication – whether they use a more traditional silage making system, or use the multicut system and make silage every four or five week throughout the growing season. “Speak to any contractor and most, if not all, would say that an early conversation about the coming silagemaking season is invaluable,” says Lallemand Animal Nutrition’s Roy Eastlake. “A review of the previous season is always a good place to start, to talk about what went well, what was silage quality like, what will work better going forward. These are discussion points for the whole team, including the contractors. “They’re the lynch pin – when they’re able to come and how they will cut, ted, cart and ensile the crop. All their techniques are key to ensuring that a top quality feed is made,” he says.

First-cut plans At a recent grassland discussion group, Mr Eastlake says he spoke to 40 producers and none had spoken to their contractor about first-cut plans. A contractor at the meeting, who has customers who have moved to multicut systems, said that not one of his clients had given him a call to talk about their plans for 2020. “He added that this was a missed opportunity as early conversations, both in terms of reviewing the previous season and planning for the next, would set out their requirements and expectations, make sure they are understood and can be built into the overall plan for the season. This all helps to improve silage quality in the coming season.” Mr Eastlake says that because timing is everything with multi-cut silage, priming your contractor well before they’ll be required on-site means that they can build in some ‘flexibility’ – they’ll be better able to accommodate your silage making requirements more readily. “Good lines of communication with your contractor mean that they’re more likely to be able to come and make silage at the optimum time. They may be able to make an earlier date if grass is ready sooner than usual, if there’s been regular contact up until they get the call to say ‘all systems go’. You’re on their list – possibly at or near the top. “If you call them out of the blue and possibly literally the day before you want them to come – which some contractors say does still happen – you’re not on their radar in the same way.” So make sure that your contractor is a central part of

your dairy team. Keep them on board and ensure that they know what you’re trying to achieve. “That way you’ll get the loyalty and professionalism that you need to help make some top quality silage.” Professional with a capital ‘p’ is Cumbria-based contractor Scott Whitaker. He says that it’s also up to the contractor to maintain good lines of communication with their clients. He cuts 1,250 hectares of grassland and all within a 10-mile radius of his business, and says that there’s no pecking order or favouritism, but he does know ‘what’s what’ on most of his clients’ farms. “But there is sometimes a waiting list, if I get too many calls at once – I can only be in one place at any one time.” He adds that his backlog is never more than a week but, for most producers, seven days can be the difference between a good silage and an average one. “I do have five ‘multi-cut’ clients and they’re the best at keeping me in the loop as to where they are in their silage making season.”

Previous season That said, Mr Whitaker says that he’s also got a pretty good idea of when individual producers are likely to call him. “I know their systems well and how they operate. What would be particularly useful is to have the heads up if they plan on making changes. And when the season is difficult, as it may prove to be this year after such a wet winter, it’s also useful to have a handle of what’s going on on farm.” He says he’d welcome the chance to sit down, in later winter or very early spring, to review the previous season and outline a plan – however rough – for the

Roy Eastlake: “Make sure that your contractor is a central part of your dairy team” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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next. Just such an early meeting would be a useful addition to his own efforts to meet his clients’ needs. “I do relief milking for some of my clients and there are ‘informal’ conversations about, for example: silage quality, how it’s feeding out, how the leys are performing, and likely first-cut dates. But a more formal discussion with the whole team could, in many instances, be useful.” He says he still gets calls the day before clients want to take a cut. “And it’s usually OK, as I have them on my radar. But sometimes they do have to wait. I’d like to be the man that says ‘yes’ every time.”

Good relationship Cumbria-based producer Michael Wilson runs a 245-cow herd near Millom. He’s been using the same contractor to help make his silage for the past 10 years and adopted a multi-cut system three years ago. He knows how valuable it is to keep the contractor well-informed. “We have a good relationship and we speak regularly throughout the silage making season – not least because we’re cutting every 30 to 35 days. He’s kept in the loop.” Michael does, though, admits that he may benefit from sitting down with his contractor, Tim West, in late winter/

early spring. “But, to be fair, Tim has a good idea of what we do each season now and what we’re trying to achieve and I know we’re firmly on his radar. Sometimes he rings me, just as I’m thinking of calling him, to see how things are going and when we’ll be needing him. For producers who haven’t been working with their contractor for so long or are switching to a multi-cut system, I can see the value having a pre-season planning meeting.” He knows – as does his contractor – that timing is everything. With that in mind, Michael and his brother Brian do all their own mowing and tedding, which he says helps with optimising cutting dates and controlling silage dry matter and quality. “But we still need Tim and his team to come and row up and pick up the grass and put it in the clamp. He’s a vital part of the process and we make sure he knows that we value his professionalism. “We always look after his staff when they’re working here – we lay on food and drink. And we also make sure we send them hope with a token of our appreciation at the end of the season – usually some beer. “In future, we’d like to organise a more formal ‘thank you’ perhaps a meal out at Christmas. The contractor and his staff are an important part of our team and we want them to feel appreciated.” l

Pre-cut testing benefits More producers are recognising the value of pre-cut grass testing, in a bid to make silage at the optimal time. “I’d say about 50% of producers are now testing grass – predominantly to check nitrate levels – a few days prior to taking a cut of silage,” says Trouw Nutrition GB’s Liz Homer. “And some of those are testing regularly throughout the season, to monitor what’s going on in their leys. These will typically be producers who have adopted a multi-cut system and are really on top of grass growth and quality. “It’s ‘safe’ to cut grass once nitrate levels are


below 1,000mg/kg. So, for example, if grass testing reveals a level of 4,500mg/kg, producers need to wait at least seven days before cutting, if it’s practical to do so. Grass will synthesise nitrates at a rate of 500mg per day, in ideal growing conditions. So within a week grass levels should be down to, or below, 1,000mg.” Dr Homer says that producers should speak to their feed adviser to discuss pre-cut testing and silage quality. “It’s well worth doing where the benefits, in terms of improving silage quality, can be considerable.”

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alternative forages Producers are opting a range of different forages for insurance against changing weather patterns and to mitigate difficult grass growing conditions. And they are also finding other benefits. TEXT SARA GREGSON

G Fodder beet: the crop fills a forage gap and is also a tasty treat for cattle


rowing grass for grazing is extremely difficult for one Shropshire-based producer. Andrew Dale’s 360-cow unit, which comprises 204 hectares in Yockleton near Shrewsbury, sits on a gravel loam that’s quick to dry up each summer. It’s not a grazing unit. So, instead, Andrew concentrates on growing good crops of grass, maize and lucerne for cutting. The herd, Holstein Friesians crossed with Fleckvieh and Swedish Red, produces an average yield of 10,500 litres of milk at 4.1% fat and 3.35% protein. All cows are fed a

diet comprising: 15kg maize silage, 15kg grass and 6kg lucerne, with 5kg of blend and 1kg of wheat. Around 49 hectares of maize has been grown on land furthest from the farm for the past 25 years. Andrew is particularly pleased with the lucerne, which he has grown for the past seven years. “During the 2018 drought, the fields with the deep-rooted lucerne were the only ones that remained green. It is low cost too. Being a legume it needs no fertiliser and it is never sprayed,” he says.

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In May 2019, a mixture of 73% Fado lucerne with 18% Laura meadow fescue and 9% timothy, was drilled at a rate of 27kg/hectare, at a cost of £6/kg. “The grasses grow along the bottom of the crop, smothering any weeds and helping prevent small stones being picked up by the contractor’s forage harvester,” explains Andrew. Lucerne is cut first, during the second week in May, with care taken not to mow below 60mm, to prevent damage to the crown. Grass is cut second, but picked up first. The lucerne is picked up after a two-day wilt. The grass and lucerne are placed side-by-side in the clamp and the second cuts of each crop are placed on top. The final three cuts of lucerne are baled and wrapped. Nutritional analysis for 2019’s lucerne silage revealed 39.3% dry matter, at 11.8 MJ ME and 22.1% crude protein – making it an ideal complement to the high starch maize silage. “Lucerne consistently yields between 12 and 13 tonnes of dry matter per hectare,” says Andrew. “It is also a low-maintenance crop and can persist for up to six seasons. I may grow a larger area in the future and buy in maize from neighbouring producers.”

Fodder beet A different forage crop has been grown at Bicton College, in east Devon, and it’s been fed to 55 outwintered crossbred milking cows and 150 dry cows and heifers, for the first time this year. Two hectares of Bangor fodder beet was drilled in April 2019, into a free-draining, sandy grass field that had been sprayed off, ploughed, limed, cultivated twice, and power harrowed, with nitrogen applied to the seed bed at a rate of 105kg N/ha. Three herbicide sprays were also applied to control weeds during the first eight weeks. “We have grown forage rape and stubble turnips separately in the past, but the fodder beet fills the winter gap in grass growth and provides much higher energy at around 12 MJ/kg DM ME,” says farm manager James Coumbe. “We started to graze it in late September and the cows love it. It is really palatable and digestible, and it has helped push the litres up and given the cows a longer ‘tail’ to their lactations. Milk quality now sits at 4.96% fat and 4.12% protein.” The Bicton herd is managed on a low-input-low-output system with the cows averaging 5,000 litres of milk and housed for just three weeks each year. “We chose the site to grow the fodder beet carefully to prevent soil run-off and offer the crop to the cows behind an electric fence. The cows can also access grassland, where they can graze or lie down,” says James. “It is important to introduce the cows to the beet slowly to prevent acidosis. We increase access by 1kg a day up to a maximum of between 7kg and 8kg per day. The cows receive maize and grass silage in the yard at milking and a small amount of concentrate in the parlour.” Oliver Seeds’ John Harris offers agronomy advice to James on his fodder beet and says that, in future, he would recommend the use of fungicide, a foliar feed including boron, and the addition of sodium in the crop nutrition plan. Flea beetles and aphids can also be a problem in some crops. “Fodder beet is an expensive crop to grow,” says James.

Andrew Dale, producer: “Fields with lucerne were the only ones that stayed green in 2018” “But high yields, of up to 18 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, brings the cost per tonne of dry matter right down. As a first time grower I am really impressed with it.”

Hybrid brassica Staffordshire-based producer Trevor Mycock found himself short of forage after the drought of 2018 and so grew a forage brassica called Spitfire, from DLF and supplied through Agrovista. He sowed the seed in August, immediately after harvesting wheat. Spitfire is a modern rape cross kale that achieves a high dry matter yield per hectare. However, with a low dry matter stem and good leaf-to-stem ratio, it is particularly digestible to livestock. The crop was harvested and fed fresh to the milking herd in a TMR where it replaced grass silage. It was chopped to between 40mm and 50mm, and added at a rate of 15kg per head. The cows’ yield increased by 3.5 litres a day within three days of feeding it. Trevor reduced the amount of 28% protein blend he was feeding by half, from 8kg to 4kg. This performance continued while the Spitfire was being fed for two months, starting in late February and carrying cows through until turnout. “It will definitely be a permanent fixture in our crop rotation and we will be putting it in after maize in future, as well as wheat,” he says. “It is so much better than seeing land lying idle and, as well as plugging a forage gap, is also helps to prevent run-off and soil erosion.” l

James Coumbe, farm manager: “Fodder beet fills the winter gap in our unit’s grass growth” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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Protect the value of silage Grass silage in a typical 1,000-tonne clamp is worth about £30,000. So it’s well worth protecting this with good preservation and that starts now with careful planning. TEXT CHRIS BURGESS


ven though many producers want to improve milk from forage, the quality of UK grass silage during the past 10 years has hardly improved, according to Volac business manager Ken Stroud. “When making silage, producers want the best fermentation. This is not only important for protecting against dry matter losses, but it also locks in more nutrients for the cow.” Although more producers are now starting to protect their silage with an additive, Mr Stroud says it is important to choose a treatment that’s backed-up with independent proof of its efficacy. “Compared with the value of silage, the cost of treating with Ecosyl is minimal,” he says. “It drives the fermentation by delivering one million live active bacteria per gramme of grass treated. “This results in the rapid production of beneficial lactic acid, which ‘pickles’ the grass against the growth of undesirable microbes. These would otherwise feed on the silage’s dry matter and nutrients. Without treatment, fermentation is left more to chance and is less efficient. “Other areas where there is often room for improvement in silage-making include timing of cutting, as well as wilting and clamping techniques.”

Wilt rapidly In line with this, Mr Stroud says that cutting grass before it goes to head not only gives the best balance between yield and quality, it also aids preservation. “After heading, the digestibility of grass falls by about 0.5% per day and it becomes more difficult to consolidate when it’s more stemmy. This can create problems with both fermentation and heating.” Similarly, he says that cutting grass too soon after applying nitrogen or slurry can upset the fermentation – either as a result of ‘unused’ nitrogen in the grass causing buffering, or due to slurry bacteria. “Wilting grass to an optimum of between 28% and 32% dry matter, rather than too dry, will aid consolidation and, therefore, fermentation. But it is important to wilt rapidly to minimise nutrient losses in the field. “So don’t leave cut grass in the swath. Instead, spread it to 100% ground cover as soon as possible. You can reach

One gramme of grass (pictured) receives one million efficient fermentation bacteria, on average, when Ecosyl is correctly applied

30% dry matter within a day in good conditions.” Mr Stroud adds that, when it comes to clamp filling, producers should avoid filling in a wedge because this is difficult to compact properly. “Instead, fill in horizontal layers, each a maximum of six inches deep, and make sure you roll it with enough weight. “If grass is at 30% dry matter, it needs 25% of its weight coming into the clamp per hour to be rolling it to consolidate it properly. So 100 tonnes per hour needs 25 tonnes of machinery rolling it.” l

Ken Stroud: “Make sure you roll the clamp with enough weight” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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27-02-20 12:55

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Name Phil Asbury Location Cheshire Unit size 63 hectares Herd size 210 cows

Measure and


A passion for producing milk from grass saw Phil Asbury win the Cheshire British Grassland Society award in 2019 and he was a finalist in the BGS competition. Phil runs a 210-cow spring block calving herd near Winsford, under a contract farming agreement with Grasslands Farming. Of the herd’s 5,500-litre average, 69% comes from grazed grass, with just 700kg of concentrate fed per cow per year. Emphasis is placed on planning, setting budgets and KPIs, and maximising the use of high grass yields.

Measure growth

Phil agrees that planning is everything and he uses a management tool, Kingswood, to help monitor and measure grass growth. “That’s something I’d recommend to all grassbased producers. How can you know you’ve enough, or if you’ve got too much grass in front of the cows. And how can you adapt grassland management accordingly, if you’re not measuring what’s there?” Using a plate meter is just the start of measuring and managing the grass wedge. “It’s a good guide – and better than merely measuring by eye or ‘boot height’. But using a dedicated grass management program makes more of the data that you collect and takes management to the next level.”

Regular reseeding

His unit’s 63-hectares of grassland is paddock grazed and Phil says that another tip he shares with producers is to check – by measuring and recording – that all leys are performing well and to reseed regularly, to keep them in top productive condition. Phil says he reseeds around 10% of his grassland each year. “And this is done by checking productivity via the program – not by the age of the ley. I have some older leys, between 15 and 20 years old, that perform as well as some of my two-year-old swards.” Another tip he shares is to turnout cows as soon as possible. “A good, well-planned, early bite is essential to get the grazing season off to the best start.”

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Make time for a

grassland stocktake This spring could provide the ideal opportunity to catch up with reseeding, without the associated risk of a forage shortfall. We spoke to a leading agronomist. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


any silage clamps are still well stocked this spring, after 2019’s bumper grass crop. This presents producers with a rare opportunity when it comes to improving the quality and productivity of their grass leys. “Producers might be tempted, because they still have plenty of silage in the clamp, to skip reseeding a proportion of their grassland this

Perennial ryegrass plant ID Look for grass plants with a purple base and folded leaves, which are shiny on the inside and matt on the outside.

spring,” says Limagrain’s Ian Misselbrook. “But it’s a great opportunity to do a stocktake and make some real improvements to grassland productivity. “Having more forage in the clamp offers a safety net. There’s a good buffer, so it’s a rare chance to do more reseeding and grassland renovation than in the past few years.” Mr Misselbrook fears that some producers will be behind with reseeding after a few tricky grass growing years, due to a late spring in 2017 and a dry summer in 2018. “The recommendation is to reseed 20% a year but, in reality, many are doing far less and skipping some years. Reseeding regimes and plans are out of kilter on many units, which is far from ideal, so for many, now is this time to catch up.” The goal is to maximise the farm’s potential in producing the best-value feed – grass. And that starts with productive leys, packed with good quality grass varieties. Grass leys are at their most productive in their second year. Fall off is gradual but, by year five, a ley’s productivity will be just 50% of year two. A reseed will pay for itself in a year, depending on the condition of the resulting ley. As a ley ages, grass weeds could will compete with and replace ryegrass varieties. “That said, don’t simply assume that it’s your oldest leys that will need to be reseeded. It’s important to assess the leys by eye and base decisions on the grass species that you see. “And don’t assume that a lush green sward is the most productive or efficient,” stresses Mr Misselbrook. Just such a sward may fill the silage trailer or offer a decent bite of grazing, if the percentage of weed grasses – such as annual meadow grass or Yorkshire fog – are too high then the quality and yield of the resulting forage will be compromised.

Ryegrass plants He recommends that producers walk their leys and examine what’s there. “Look for gaps and broadleaved weeds, obviously, but also look at the grasses. “Don’t worry about identifying the individual grass weeds. What’s key is being able to spot the ryegrass and to then evaluate the proportion of it in a sward.” Spotting perennial ryegrass is quite easy (see box on left). Examine a square metre of grassland. You’re looking for more than 70% of the grass plants to be perennial ryegrass – any less then productivity begins to be significantly compromised and reseeding will yield a significant return on investment.” If the perennial ryegrass content of a sward is between


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Grass-mixture benefits LGAN Turbo

• Suitable for both set stocking and paddock management systems • Can be grazed all season or alternatively ill provide quality grazing and one heavy cut of silage • Good seasonal distribution of grazing • High ME with good balance of DNDF (digestible fibre), high sugars and protein • Inclusion of Matrix enhanced ryegrass extends the grazing season in spring and autumn

LGAN Prosper

• Unlike Turbo, production is geared to peak during the silage cutting season • Expect at least two cuts of high ME silage and nutritious grazing from the same field • Like Turbo, Prosper has a high content of palatable tetraploid ryegrasses for higher voluntary intake when grazed and improved fermentation for silage

70% and 80%, then overseeding – rather than a full reseed – can renovate a ley and extend its productive life. There are also significant gains to be made from using high-quality grass mixtures. “This can make a real difference. I’ve often heard producers say that a reseed hasn’t taken and they often blame the weather or the soil. But it’s typically because they’ve taken a standard ‘off the shelf’ mixture – and little, if any, agronomy advice. The mixture is the problem. “So always buy from a reputable merchant, and one that sources seed mixtures from a recognised seed house. Look out for LGAN accreditation, to show that a mixture meets both growing and feeding criteria,” says Mr Misselbrook. “And, when selecting a mixture, remember it’s not just about the species within the mixture, it’s how they’re mixed – the proportions and the formulation. Varieties have a complementary action in a mixture. And there’s more to it than simply putting the best varieties on the recommended list together.” “A high proportion of tetraploid ryegrasses are important in a grass seed mixture for dairy leys – both for grazing and cutting – because they’re more drought tolerant than diploids. “The latter are important in terms of putting a ‘bottom’ into the ley, but tetraploids are key to building resilience and stamina into a ley. And they’re also faster to establish.”

Mixture selection When choosing a mixture, it’s also important to consider what they ley will be used for – grazing, cutting or a combination. “Many producers simply opt for a general purpose mixture and, typically, this will do the job. But there are productivity gains to be had if, for example, you know an out-lying field will only ever be cut for silage or zero grazing. Reseeding with a mixture that’s formulated for cutting, rather than grazing, will be beneficial and offer better yields and quality for silage.” Mr Misselbrook cites Turbo, a ‘leafier’ mixture that’s ideal for grazing early- to mid-season, but great for a cutting later in the summer. Prosper, conversely, is the ideal choice for producers who want to take one or two

cuts of silage and then graze a good quality aftermath. “It’s well worth having a conversation with your agronomist or seed merchant about exactly what you want from a ley and to take advice to help you select a ‘best fit’ mixture.” And make sure that the mixture offers quality – not just yield. “Grass breeding has come a long way during the past 10 years. Digestible NDF is key to feeding the rumen bugs and it’s a bigger driver for a high ME, in grazed grass and grass silage, than sugars,” says Mr Misselbrook.

Cost effective Better quality mixtures offer higher yields and feed quality and make reseeding even more cost effective and producers should look to take advantage of the accredited seed mixtures that are on offer. “Look out for LGAN accreditation when buying seed as a guarantee of testing and quality.” The return on investment is 10:1 for a five-year ley, with reseeds breaking even in the first year. Productivity will peak in the second growing year, which will be 2021 for 2020 reseeds. Ensuring that swards are in tip-top condition means that they’ll be better able to weather whatever mother nature has in store – this year and looking further ahead. “Grass is the core of all home-grown forage production – and the foundation of all dairy businesses,” he adds. “And heading into 2021 with leys that are at their productive peak will offer producers peace of mind that, however 2020 pans out, grassland will be poised to help maximise returns and mitigate any other challenges – environmental or political – that dairy businesses may face.” l

Ian Misselbrook: “What’s key is being able to spot the ryegrass and to evaluate the proportion of it in a sward” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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They don’t understand the science but they do know fine forage when they’re fed it

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17/01/2020 10:22 26-02-20 14:59


Reduce waste to

maximise value Forage waste is a major factor in reduced efficiency and leads to higher purchased-feed costs. Producers need to grasp the opportunity to cut waste and to drive more profitable production. TEXT PHIL EADES


educing forage waste is the quickest and easiest way to increase milk from forage and drive margins and is entirely within producers’ control. So says Lallemand Animal Nutrition’s Lientjie Colahan, adding that, on average, losses during fermentation range from between 8% and 15% of harvested dry matter, and that storage losses account for between 7% and 15% of dry matter. “And feed-out losses are between 4% and 10%. “So the average UK dairy herd is wasting between 20% and 25% of all silage made and less dry matter means less milk from forage. As the cost of silage making is largely determined by the crop grown, not the amount fed, this is a huge financial loss.” She explains that all the principal costs of silage making – including fertiliser, contracting, fuel, labour, sheets, inoculant – are scalable, based on the hectarage grown and the crop harvested. “While the average costs to produce grass silage is £100/t DM, the cost per tonne fed can be very different.

Better return “Total investment remains the same, irrespective of how much is fed. Making 100t DM at £100/t DM, costs £10,000 in total. If 20% is wasted and only 80t of it is fed, it has still cost £10,000 in total, but now costs £125/t DM fed. Cutting silage waste allows producers to see a better return on their investment and save on purchased feeds.” Mrs Colahan adds that if by reducing silage waste producers can feed 1kg DM more per cow per day at 11.3MJ ME/kg DM, they can produce an extra 2.13 litres per cow per day from forage – saving 1kg/day of concentrate as a result. “Assuming a concentrate price of £250/tonne and a 200-day winter, the saving would be £50 per cow straight onto the margin over costs of feed and forage, as the forage costs don’t increase. There is no reason why any producer should accept the levels of

waste typically seen on UK units. A 10% reduction in waste is a realistic expectation, based on attention to detail. “The minute the crop is cut it starts to lose energy due to respiration, so look to make silage in a day to reduce respiration losses. Having put the best quality material in the trailer, producers then need to focus on reducing dry matter and energy losses.” She suggests that producers use a Magniva Platinum crop and condition specific inoculant at the correct rate on every tonne, and adds that leaving a proportion of the crop untreated is a false economy and can lead to pockets of waste in the clamp.

Reducing waste: a heterofermentative inoculant can reduce waste, leaving more silage to feed

Aerobic stability A combination of homofermentative and heterofermentative bacteria in the inoculant will improve the fermentation and preservation of nutrients while, at the same time, increasing the aerobic stability and reducing spoilage and heating once the clamp is opened. “Heating is a big issue and is important to tackle as heat is produced by burning energy. This reduces the feed value of the silage, as well as its production potential. Magniva Platinum inoculants produce compounds that inhibit the activity of yeasts and moulds, which cause spoilage and heating.” She says that time spent on attention to detail when building the clamp will ensure less waste and mean less time is spent dealing with the consequences of waste during the winter. “Waste is a major cause of reduced efficiency as the crop is grown but not fed. “If producers can reduce waste, they can feed more silage and reduce purchased feed use. They have invested in making the forage, so increasing forage efficiency offers a better return on that investment.” l

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Weeding and seeding 1 Take steps now to tackle chickweed in grass leys

2 Ryegrass blends offer costeffective bare soils solution


Chickweed is now growing and can smother established grassland or young leys. So says Corteva Agriscience’s Nicola Perry, adding that its prostrate growing habit allows it to rapidly colonise any gaps in the sward. “Chickweed will be found in established grassland, often in damaged areas or where slurry injectors have opened up the sward,” says Dr Perry. ‘It is also the most common weed to invade newly sown leys. It will aggressively compete with grass species for space, light, water and, most importantly, nutrients. So it needs to be controlled.” Individual chickweed plants can produce 1,300 seeds and it only take five to six weeks from germination to seed dispersal. Plants are capable of four to five generations a year and seed buried in soil can remain viable for up to 25 years. Dr Perry recommends tackling chickweed with the herbicide Envy, which can be sprayed from now until the end of November. This product works at cooler temperatures and also when there are dramatic fluctuations between day and night. This means, if ground conditions allow, it can get to work before the chickweed flowers and before it significantly impacts grass growth. It can be applied on chickweed at a rate of up to two litres per hectare in established grassland and at a lower rate of one litre per hectare in newly sown leys. “Removing chickweed from young leys allows productive grasses to tiller out and spread across the ground,” adds Dr Perry.

Sowing a high performance ryegrass catch crop this spring could offer a flexible, low-risk solution for producers with bare ground following aborted autumn drilling. Specialist catch crop mixtures tested in Field Options’ trials programme, at Harper Adams University, have the potential to produce more than 10t DM per hectare in the season immediately following spring sowing. Following early April sowing, Hurricane III, which is a mixture based on unusually persistent and hardy Westerwold ryegrass and Italian ryegrass, has recorded up to 14tDM/ha in a full season in the trial programme, with an average ME of 11.5MJ/kg DM across five cuts. According to Field Options’ Francis Dunne, this kind of short-term grass catch crop could be a better option than spring cereals for producers who are still considering what to do with undrilled land. “For those with the opportunity to either feed or sell a high value forage crop then a short- term ryegrass catch crop should be a consideration,” he says. “With a mixture like Hurricane III, there will be high dry matter yields as well as sustained quality through the first season. A first cut would be taken a full month ahead of when a wholecrop cereal would be harvested, and there is added flexibility, as the mixture is designed to persist for up to 18 months, so can perform throughout a second season. “Though the species in the mixture are more suited to cutting, it can also be grazed successfully if the appropriate controlled grazing techniques are used.”

Machinery that promises to take making silage on undulating land in its stride is set to be launched at Grassland & Muck in May 2020. The range, from Fendt, which includes a mower and three tedders, will be demonstrated at the two-day event. The mower is suspended on a frame that provides more flexible movement, making it better suited to undulating land. Aimed at producers and contractors looking to cut grass with precision, the Slicer FQ is available in the UK from spring 2020. “This product meets the challenge of cutting grass on undulating and hilly land,” says the company’s Sam Treadgold. “It can be adjusted easily and allows one side to be as much as 650mm higher than the other. And there is movement available at every corner, making it perfect for difficult-to-cut fields.” Available in two widths (3.1 metres and 3.62 metres), the mower can be fitted with tine or roller conditioners. “And 3D ground adjustment offers more versality of movement by adjusting draw bars and rams under the frame, which act like control rods,” adds Mr Treadgold. “The result is a pull-style mower that offers the adjustment options to reduce damage to the sward to facilitate fast regrowth.” Also on show at the event will be the range of Fendt tedders. Three models, including two trailed (1020 T and 1250 T) and one mounted (770), are now available. The tedders’ hook-tine design provides high output without digging into the soil. The hook tine rubs, rather than digs, and this reduces the impact on the soil.




Grassland machinery designed for undulating land


cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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Once tasted,

never forgotten For six months of the year, fodder beet provides one Derbyshire-based herd with a tasty addition to its ration. TEXT KAREN WRIGHT


odder beet is a firm favourite among John Chamberlain’s 200-cow Hollyhurst Holstein herd, and it’s a feed that he rates highly. Fodder beet has been part of the ration for the past six years on this dairy unit near Ashbourne. “We tried it out to supplement the forages in the diet – to add some energy to the ration,” says John. “It was so successful, on all counts, that we just kept using it. And the cows love it,” he adds, challenging anyone to find any fodder beet along the feed face 30 minutes after feeding out at 8am. The milkers are fed 7kg of fodder beet daily, as part of a TMR, along with grass silage, soya hulls, caustic wheat, and a specially formulated blend. This supports average yields in this all-year-round calving herd of 10,000kg of milk at 4.5% fat and 3.45% protein, on twice-a-day milking. Milk is sold to Arla on a 360 contract. “We add it to the ration from the start of November until April – as long as it remains fresh,” says John. “It drives intakes and as soon as it goes into the ration butterfats improve. My only regret is that it’s not available all year round. “The good thing is that cows eat it as an extra, rather than instead of other forages. It’s very palatable and it certainly adds energy, cost-effectively, to the ration.”

Four varieties John feeds 250 tonnes of fodder beet throughout the winter, taking 10-tonne loads from Gary Pattison, who grows 10 hectares of the crop every year for local dairy and sheep producers. “I usually grow four varieties,” says Gary, who points out that fairly good soils are needed to grow the crop. “The land can’t be too wet and heavy, otherwise the soil sticks to the beet. “And the land must be worked to a fine seedbed before sowing from late March to mid-April – after the frosts but in time to get it germinating early.” With the help of his merchant Rob Simister, based in Ellastone in Derbyshire, Gary selects varieties that grow only partially, as opposed to totally, in the ground. “These are easier to lift. We harvest the beet early, before the frosts, and aim to get it all in the clamps by

the end of November. We also look for a fairly clean beet that doesn’t need washing. We remove stones and loose soil before delivery.” This year the varieties Brick and Robbos are among his selections. Some of the seed will be primed – Limagrain has a limited amount of Robbos-primed seed available – to encourage faster germination and reduce the opportunity for pest and disease damage in the early establishment stages, when the seedlings are at their most vulnerable. “Growing a few varieties spreads the risk,” adds Gary. “Different varieties grow well on some fields and not others, so if we have a mix we can compensate for a shortfall if necessary.” Having said that, Gary and his family are tried-andtested fodder beet growers. They know the tricks of the trade and how to grow a good crop. One tip is to add salt to the seedbed before sowing, which they nearly always do. “Fodder beet was always grown by the sea – it grows well with a bit of added salt,” he adds. l For more information on fodder beet varieties suited to dairy rations and on growing the crop contact

Tasty treat: cows enjoying fodder beet as part of their winter milking ration

John Chamberlain: “Fodder beet drives intakes – it’s very palatable” cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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proves its worth We visited two Pembrokeshire-based units where automated heat detection collars and associated infrastructure are improving efficiency and herd fertility. TEXT DEBBIE JAMES


t Cilast Uchaf, near Boncath, technology is improving heat detection efficiency in the Vaughan family’s high yielding Holstein herd, with submission rates moving from 50% to 70% in just 12 months. As cow numbers hit 400, heat detection became one of the biggest challenges when managing the all-yearround calving pedigree herd. Heats were sometimes missed, or cows were incorrectly identified as bulling. And this had repercussions for milk yield because it increased the number of days cows were producing milk at a lower daily yield. “We wanted to improve the accuracy of heat detection,” says Aled Vaughan, who farms in partnership with his brother, Gerwyn, and parents, Tom and Gwyneth. “We already record with NMR and we purchased Allflex’s SenseHub in 2018, which monitors activity through transponders fitted to neck collars.” Captured information from the collar transponder is sent at regular intervals throughout the day, via antenna, to the farm computer or smart phone. When activity peaks and rumination drops this indicates that a cow is bulling and this is flagged up.

Heats on PC “Heat detection is now as simple as checking the computer for alerts and holding back cows listed for checking and insemination,” says Aled. Now in his third year of using the system, he says that one of the major benefits has been a 20% increase in submission rates. According to Uniform-Agri, NMR’s herd management software program that he subscribes Aled Vaughan: “SenseHub has led to a 20% increase in submission rates”

FARM FACTS CILAST UCHAF Farm size Yield Milk buyer Feeding system Feeding at milking


243 hectares 10,000kg of milk at 4.1% fat and 3.4% protein Arla cows fed a TMR comprising grass silage, home-grown wholecrop, sugarbeet meal and protein blend cake in the parlour, to a maximum of 7kg/cow/day

NMR package SenseHub installations are subject to a site-survey before any order is placed and newcomers to the system will be fully trained. Users will then have access to NMR’s training sessions, either on farm or remotely, and in-person support from the field team and the experienced NMR software support call centre.

cowmanagement MARCH/APRIL 2020

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to, this improvement is worth £5,500 a year. And while submission rates have increased, the calving index has decreased – from 405 days to 395 days. Based on a cost of £3.50 for each open day, this is worth a further £11,500 to the business. “Uniform-Agri links our NMR data and SenseHub information so we can see the full value of the system,” explains Aled. “We record the origin of oestrus through the software and this shows that 15% is coming from the collars alone.” Intake and rumination technology is integrated into his SenseHub system and any deviations from a norm show up on the screen. This is a sign that Allflex’s Paul Mitcham encourages producers to heed because it can often be the first sign of a problem. Early intervention can avoid health, production and fertility problems. “A combination of rumination and activity data makes heat detection more accurate and has the added benefit of providing information on cow health,” he says. Often cows that are not showing any visual signs of illness are flagged up. Aled has seen this happen in the herd. “We have had cases where we receive an alert and the cow looks perfectly OK, but when we check her temperature it is raised,” he says. “By monitoring cow activity we can spot problem cows sooner, and it’s easy to pick them up off the screen. “We no longer need to monitor heat detection visually – we know that the technology is doing the work for us. And that frees us up to get other jobs done.” Around 40% of the farm’s capital outlay in SenseHub was met by a Welsh Government Farm Business Grant, so this reduced the Vaughan’s investment to around £26,000. With the combination of the increased submission rates and the reduced calving index worth £17,000 a year, Aled says that the business saw a return on this investment in less than two years.

FARM FACTS TEDION FARM Farm size Milking parlour Yield Milk buyer System Fertility

121 hectares 18:36 swing-over parlour 6,300kg of milk per cow at 500kg milk solids, from one tonne of concentrates Dairy Partners block calving February to April 8% empty rate

Handling technology By linking automated heat technology to a segregation gate cows on heat can now be automatically drafted for AI after each milking at Tedion Farm, near Lawrenny. Linking the unit’s Allflex SenseHub to a three-way sorting gate has eased herd management to such an extent that Laura Elliott, who farms with her mother, Rachel, and sister, Kathy, compares it to having an extra person in the parlour. The Elliotts run a crossbred herd of 270 cows, calving in a 12-week block from February. The business relies on family labour and employs one full-time milker, Lisa Bassett. “We were looking for an alternative to drafting cows manually,” says Laura. “The SenseHub link ticked all the boxes and replaced a

Welsh grants In Wales, a new application window for the Farm Business Grant, which can offset the cost of collars and sorting gates, opens on March 2, 2020 for 40 days. Further details are available on the National Assembly for Wales website or by contacting Meinir Rhys Jones at NMR:

Laura Elliott: “The link from the heat technology to the segregation gate reduces labour requirements in the parlour”

paper list pinned in the parlour, which wasn’t practical.” Manual drafting not only increased labour requirements but also slowed down milking and increased stress on cows and milkers. “We bought the system through NMR and it qualified for a Welsh Government Farm Business Grant. It cost us £18,000,” adds Laura. The savings in labour costs alone will more than pay for the capital outlay, because only one person is required in the parlour – even when they are drafting cows out for AI or treatment. If cows are receiving treatment, they are drafted into a handling race and crush. The technology has also removed the need for the Elliotts to have home-bred bulls on farm to sweep up. And they are putting the data from the collars to full use. Cows with irregular heats, aneostrus or suspected abortions are automatically sorted out for vet visits. “They’re treated sooner and it will hopefully mean that we get a few more cows in calf earlier,” says Laura. “I find the data useful and reassuring, and it’s a positive step forward in our herd management.” The Elliotts, in conjunction with NMR, will host an open day at Tedion on April 1, 2020. l

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System brings dairy data to life ForFarmers is improving the ‘digestibility’ of farm data through the use of its on-line ToolBox. Launched at Dairy-Tech 2020, the system brings together raw farm data from a wide range of sources and makes it available in one place, to improve its value to producers and their businesses. “The ToolBox allows us to work with the data sets in partnership with our customers and this enables better discussions and more informed decisions on farm,” explains ForFarmers’ James Hague. “As a total feed business, we can influence the nutrition of dairy herds from the ground up, so finding where the opportunities for efficiency are in the data is invaluable.” ForFarmers is involved in an industry-led Dairy Productivity Collaboration Group, which clearly identified that a key priority was the need for improved use of data on farm. To this end, the company has invested in a data-sharing platform that allows data from a range of sources to automatically populate the significant number of dairy costings it undertakes for its customers. This data contains a wealth of information but, with so much data, distilling it down into a useable form can be difficult.

The ToolBox is used by ForFarmer’s network of account managers and specialists when working with their customers. “Simple tools, such as our milk price calculator, allow us to look at the value of manipulating milk composition for our customers on manufacturing contracts and, typically, we can identify the opportunity to increase milk price by more than 1ppl,” explains Mr Hague. The company’s age-at-first-calving (AFC) tool has identified that dropping the average AFC from 28 to 24 months is worth 1.18ppl for the average herd. “These are valuable differences that we highlight and implement on farm through our advice and feed options.” Ultimately, the ToolBox has been designed to make data interpretation easier and more valuable. The company says that the real value is in account managers working with decision makers on farm to search for opportunities and put together practical plans to improve the business’ bottom line. For more information about ForFarmers’ ToolBox and how it can improve efficiencies on farm, talk to your ForFarmers account manager or call: 0330 678 0982

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Chop length key to dry-matter levels A multi-cut system, one where silage is cut more often throughout the season, may not suit all producers. But for those that can exploit the system, cutting between four and six times and typically every 28 to 30 days, it can increase forage quality and yield, and profitability. Harvesting grass more frequently, at lower covers, leads to higher digestibility and less dead material being ensiled in the multi-cut system. By improving the quality of forages used in the diet, the need for high specification purchased feed is minimised. Multi-cut systems target a D value of up to 75. This would result in an ME of approximately 12 MJ/kg DM and, as the crop is cut younger, it is likely to be higher in protein and digestibility. Because it’s lower in fibre, the chop length at harvesting may need to be longer at, for example, 5cm. However, chop length should be varied according to dry matter and quality. If it is all young, leafy material and 32% dry matter, then at chop length of between 3cm and 5cm is ideal. If grass is between 28% and 30% dry matter, then a chop length of 5cm should be the minimum. If it’s wetter and below 28% dry matter, chop length needs to increase – to as long as 10cm for grass with a dry matter as low as 22%. Although the higher protein content of younger grass is a nutritional benefit, it can make the silage more difficult to ferment. Adding a silage additive will deliver a fast efficient fermentation. This ensures that as much lactic acid is produced, in a short a time, as possible and makes for a rapid fall in pH.

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Well-proven cross-breeding bulls BULLS PROVEN for CROSSBREEDING




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Do you want to maximise the value of calves from your herd without the risk of calving difficulties? Try our Belgian Blue sires – they are all well-proven for cross breeding. Belgian Blue bull Intrepide de Cras Avernas, sired by Nodule, has a cross breeding index based on 213 calves in 141 herds. He scores 111 for calving ease, 90 for birth weight and 97 for gestation length, which make him a bull that is suitable for use on Holstein cows. Traitable de la Claie is another example of a Belgian Blue bull that is well-proven for cross breeding. Based on 1,325 calves in 709 herds, he lists 114 for calving ease, 85 for birth weight and 95 for gestation length.

Double W Ranger and Delta Rosebud top Dutch list again For the second year running, Double W Ranger and Delta Rosebud were the most used bulls in the Netherlands during 2019. Black-and-white sire Ranger took the lead with nearly 66,000 first inseminations. As in 2018, Delta Magister is closest to Reflector son Ranger with more than 36,000 first inseminations. Delta Lunar is also doing good business,

accounting for 21,000 first inseminations. Delta Rosebud is, again, the most popular red-and-white sire. He racked up more than 20,000 first inseminations. Rosebud has a generous lead over the number-two bull on the list, Delta Moutard. With 12,000 first inseminations, Moutard is in the top five for the first time. All bulls are available in the active portfolio.

Double W Janet 107 and Double W Ricky 47: the first daughters in milk by Rosebud and Magister

Calf-jacket giveaway Producers who buy more than 25 straws of Holstein semen from CRV Avoncroft will receive a free calf jacket. Calf jackets are ideal for use on young calves during the colder months. They can result in significant savings on feed, medication, and bedding costs. The calf is able to convert more feed energy into growth, rather than generating warmth, and this will also help to reduce the incidence of disease. Contact your local breeding advisor for more information or visit

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Sam Barlow joins CRV Avoncroft Sam Barlow has joined the CRV Avoncroft sales team and will be covering the Lancashire area. Sam grew up on Sam Barlow a dairy farm and worked on a dairy unit in New Zealand for 12 months when he left school. On his return, he worked as a reproductive management system technician, as well as working on the dairy breeding programme for his family’s dairy herd. Sam is looking forward to helping Lancashire-based producers to achieve their breeding goals.

Investment in data collection CRV recently installed 40 forage intake control feeders at Wietse Duursma’s dairy unit in Bellingwolde, The Netherlands. These machines measure the individual feed intake of each cow in the 300-strong herd. The measurements are key to revealing the genetic variation in feed efficiency and further improving breeding values. There are now five dairy units where CRV is collecting feed intake data and this gives the organisation a leading position in breeding for efficiency. The total investment in the project exceeds £1.7 million. “There is no breeding organisation in the world that is investing on this scale in collecting feed intake data,” says CRV’s breeding specialist Pieter van Goor. For a video of the feeders in action, visit:

For more information on products and services of CRV Avoncroft: phone: 01562 861582

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Good progress towards

BVD eradication

The latest National BVD Survey results make for positive reading. Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s Matt Yarnall shares the highlights from the 2020 report. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


Figure 1: Number of respondents from different regions of the UK

ngaging with an eradication scheme, a better understanding of BVD, implementation of biosecurity measures and the importance of removing PIs from the herd are key, according to the latest BVD survey. This fifth national survey was carried out by Boehringer in collaboration with the BVD eradication programmes in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as the producers’ unions in those countries. A total of 1,013 producers were surveyed in January 2020, and good representation from all countries (see Figure 1), revealed an increase in producer awareness of the impact of BVD and the importance of control – both on individual units and across the wider industry.

Red Tractor (see Figure 2). “The non-compulsory eradication campaigns in England and Wales have certainly stepped up a gear. And there’s also a push from producers for these schemes to become compulsory, as it already is in Scotland,” he adds. Whatever the motivation, uptake and engagement, and an understanding of the disease and the importance of control, have increased across the board. And, with producers in England able to take advantage of free BVD testing and veterinary support as part of the ‘Stamp It Out’ initiative, it’s no surprise that there has been a significant increase in the number of producers signing up to the BVDFree scheme. The survey shows that 62% are now engaged on a scheme, up from 51% 12 months ago.

Producer motivation

Compulsory schemes

“The differences in the approach to BVD were marked this year, with a far greater proportion of Welsh producers tackling BVD. Better herd performance in herds without BVD has driven this improvement along with the BVD eradication programme, Gwaredu BVD,” says Mr Yarnall. Producers in England are tackling BVD as part of a CHeCS scheme or to meet assurance schemes such as

He adds that what’s also particularly encouraging is that 91% of producers in England want BVD eradication to be made compulsory, while only 11 out of the 423 (2.6%) English respondents would not join the BVDFree England programme. “Producers clearly value the progress that they’ve made by being part of the scheme and want to protect that. They recognise that BVD is still a threat to their herd if other producers – particularly neighbouring herds – are not taking steps to control and eradicate the disease. “They want to protect those gains and know that their investment is safe. I’m sure that Scotland and Ireland would be keen to support the introduction of compulsory schemes across the rest of the UK as such a move would also protect their progress in eradicating BVD,” says Mr Yarnall. “Agriculture is a devolved issue, but with changes to the Agriculture Bill at the moment talking about farmers being supported for ‘public goods’, BVD control fits that definition so progress could be made.” This desire for a compulsory approach across the UK is also reflected in an increased awareness of the importance of biosecurity – and what that actually looks like.

Northern Ireland 172

England 423

Scotland 263

Wales 155


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The confusion about what constitutes a truly closed herd is lifting. “In Northern Ireland, for example, there was a decrease in the number of herds stating they were closed, down from 60% to 50%. “That may reflect an improvement of awareness of what a closed herd means, and that a herd buying in bulls can’t be classed as ‘closed’. But there are still 16% of herds saying they’re closed but buy in bulls,” says Mr Yarnall.

PI removal The PI message – to remove them from the herd immediately once they’re identified – is also getting through, albeit slowly. This has been highlighted in past surveys as a particular problem when it comes to effective BVD control. It’s an area that’s crucial to success, yet many producers, for a myriad of reasons, may still hang on to PIs. “In Wales, for example, 32% of producers surveyed in the 2020 report say that they would not cull identified PIs immediately. This is an improvement on the 2019 figure of 42%, but there’s still a way to go. “Not culling PIs maintains a potent source of infection for other animals in the herd and passing it on to other producers if calves are sold from the herd,” stresses Mr Yarnall. Other countries should look to Northern Ireland to see the impact that retaining PIs can have on the herd. “The 2020 survey reveals that 20 producers retained a PI – that’s 16% of all those that identified one. And it is interesting to note that this was the same proportion of producers that retained a PI in 2019. “Clearly attitudes haven’t changed much but, in both years of asking what the outcome of retaining a PI was, the majority (77% in 2019 and 65% in 2020) of those animals had either died, been put down before reaching a productive size or had to be treated for other conditions. “When asked, 90% or more of these producers admitted they wouldn’t knowingly retain a PI animal

Is BVD control a part of your herd health plan? If yes, what is the main reason for including it? It’s not part



Yes, it is a requirement of my buyers

Yes, Red Tractor standards recommend it



England 23 0%


59 10%


Yes, herd performance is better if my herd is free of BVD


70 20%

Yes, I am part of a CHeCS accredited scheme

115 40%



87 70%




Figure 2: National BVD survey results

again. By far the main reason that producers held onto PIs was because the animals looked healthy. Other reasons were that they doubted the result, they had successfully reared PIs to slaughter in the past or another producer advised them to. “The overall feedback is that retaining PIs for those that have experienced it was not of benefit,” says Mr Yarnall. “This is information that other producers who are hesitating when it comes to PI disposal should consider carefully.”

Less tolerant He adds that producers in Northern Ireland are not able to send PIs to slaughter, as abattoirs are no longer accepting them. “This limits producers’ options and when they were asked what would encourage the disposal of PIs, the majority (65%) favoured herd restrictions, while only 52% favoured PI removal support payments, down from 59% in 2019. So perhaps producers are becoming less tolerant of those who hold on to PIs?” He says that has to be a positive thing. “PIs should not be tolerated – in your herd or anyone else’s. They’re a reservoir of infection and a serious threat to health herd. The animal may look well, it may be your best cow or heifer, but keeping her is a risk that can’t be taken.” l

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26-02-20 15:07


HappyMoo signposts happy cows NMR is participating, along with major dairy organisations in north west Europe, in the HappyMoo project, which is investigating the link between milk sample data and cow well-being parameters. The aim of the project is to provide producers with early notification of issues relating to health and well-being in individual cows, before they become a problem and affect performance. “We’re comparing milk spectra that we get when individual cow milk samples are tested through our mid-infrared testing instruments in the laboratory from cows with a particular condition, such as lameness or mastitis, or changes in body condition score, with spectra derived from cows that don’t show these conditions,” says NMR service development manager Martin Busfield. This 42-month Interreg North West Europe project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will use milk spectral data across participating project partners, which includes national dairy and recording organisations in Germany, France, Belgium and Ireland. “The data can be compared from laboratories across the project participants, thanks to the well-established monthly standardisation of machines across the European milk recording group,” he adds. The ‘reading’ of milk samples and relating the result to an established pattern is used for measuring milk constituents in bulk and individual milk samples by recording organisations and testing laboratories. “The project will allow us to make even more use of the milk sample,” says Mr Busfield. “Like many recording groups, NMR already collects disease-related information such as

GeneTracker dates The next genomic sample submission dates and results dates for inGENEious and Search Point: • March 19, published May 5 (May 6) • April 16, published June 2 (June 3) • May 21, published July 7 (July 8) Martin Busfield speaking at the Dairy-Tech animal health workshop

cell count, lameness and mastitis. It will be able to compare spectral data from milk samples of cows with and without these conditions.” The Happy Moo project group is also looking at well-being factors, like hunger and stress, and using research farms and university units to carry out additional testing on body condition scores. This relates to energy balance and hunger, and on hair sample tests to detect cortisol – a hormone produced when animals are under stress. “Again, milk samples will be tested from animals exhibiting these conditions and compared with those not affected. “The more milk samples we have for each parameter, the more reliable the milk spectral patterns will be. The aim is to be able to integrate 9this information as part of the milk recording service, providing producers with an early and non-intrusive cow health and welfare screen.” Producers who would like to be involved in further testing related to the HappyMoo project, can contact NMR customer services.

Spring genomic offer A three-for-two offer on Clarifide plus genomic tests for Holsteins and Jerseys is available until June 15, 2020. The Clarifide plus test includes the Dairy Wellness Profit; a measure of traits that affect health, performance and profit. Two farm visits are included in the offer from a NMR or Zoetis specialist – an initial on farm sign up and one to analyse genomic results. Contact Becky Gage:

New NMR rankings NMR’s Annual Production Report, which ranks top production and genetic NMRrecorded herds nationally and by county, will be published on Herd Companion.

For more information about NMR products and services contact customer services: 03330 043 043, email:

National prize winners Two Hampshire NMR-recorded herds scooped top national prizes at this year’s Dairy-Tech event in February.

The 2019 Chris May Memorial Award, for the Gold Cup qualifying herd with the highest lifetime daily yield, was awarded to Messrs

The 2019 Chris May Memorial Award presented to Joe Ives and herd manager Sally Bowden by NMR Chairman Trevor Lloyd (left)

Lilyhill Cup 2019 winner Tracey Bunney with son Barney, pictured with NMR customer account manager Bryan Radford

W & P Ives from Herriard, near Basingstoke. The award reflects overall herd efficiency and it is a measure of all-round milk production, health, fertility and longevity. The Ives’ 272-cow Gladwake Holstein herd had an average lifetime daily yield of 19.6kg a day for the year to September 2018 with an average milk production of 12,742kg of milk. The NMR-recorded pedigree Jersey herd belonging to F J Bunney & Sons from Avington Manor Farm, near Winchester, was awarded the 2019 Lilyhill Cup. The 238-cow Lakedale herd produced 7,986kg of milk and had a combined fat and protein of 689kg.

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40,000 100-tonners – and still counting

It was a special milestone: just over sixty years ago, the first cow in the Netherlands touched the 100,000kg mark. Since then more than 40,000 Dutch and Flemish cows have smashed the magic barrier of 100,000kg of milk production. The number of 10-tonners is also growing rapidly. In 2019 the tally hit 3,400 cows who had broken the 10,000kg-of-fat-and-protein barrier. TEXT INGE VAN DRIE


or a cow to produce 100,000kg of milk, or 10,000kg of fat and protein, is still a staggering achievement. But having one of these top producing cows in a herd is no longer unique. More than 40,000 certificates have already been issued in the Netherlands and Flanders to cows producing 100 tonnes of milk. The precise number is 40,480 and the majority (38,597) were in the Netherlands, with Flanders registering 1,883 cows. The number of cows that pass the 100,000kg Table 1: Sires of 100-tonners in the Netherlands and Flanders (source: Coöperatie CRV)


no of 100-tonne cows

Skalsumer Sunny Boy Tops Monitor Legend Eastland Cash Etazon Lord Lily Stadel

1,826 1,141 892 849 630

milestone increases each year. Between 1990 and 1994, 1,130 Dutch and Flemish cows broke the 100,000kg of milk barrier. And then the number of 100-tonne cows quickly increased (see Figure 1). Between 2015 and 2019, the number of 100-tonne cows reached 11,554.

100-tonner registrations And it doesn’t stop there. In 2019 alone, 2,463 100-tonners were recorded. That’s six or seven 100-tonne cows registered each day. Never before in a single year have so many cows risen through the rankings to reach the 100-tonne milestone. The pattern with 10-tonners is almost identical. Here, too, the number of titanic producers showed dramatic growth. Between 1990 and 1994 there were only eight, but in the period between 2015 and 2019 no fewer than 1,129 cows were recorded as 10-tonne cows. And in 2019 alone, 230 cows registered 10,000kg of fat and protein.

Lifetime production record holder One Dutch dairying family has already seen 78 cows achieve the 100,000kg of milk milestone. And this makes Jos, Ingrid and Ben Knoef’s Geesteren-based herd top of the list – it has the highest number of 100-tonners in the Netherlands. The Knoef family also hold the record for the highest number of 10-tonne cows. So far, 25 of their cows have passed the 10,000kg-of fat-and-protein limit. One of their best-known cows is Big Boukje 192. In March 2016, she


was the first cow in the Netherlands to cross the 200,000kg of milk milestone. The Cash daughter produced more than 208,000kg of milk. Her dam, Boukje 184, and great-granddam, Boukje 164, also produced more than 100,000kg of milk and 10 tonnes of fat and protein. High production is also passed down through her paternal line, with Cash, Labelle, F16, Tops, and Amos in her pedigree.

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High profile Skalsumer Sunny Boy is the undisputed king of both the 10- and 100-tonne categories, with 1,826 100-tonners and 292 10-tonners among his descendants. It is interesting to note that the top-five sires are the same in both rankings. Sunny Boy is followed at a respectable distance by black-and-white bulls Tops, Eastland Cash, and Etazon Lord Lily. In fifth place, Stadel is the highest placed red-andwhite bull in both rankings with 630 100-tonners (see Table 1) and 92 10-tonners. This Stollberg son out of Cleitus daughter Doublette is also the bull who added the most 100-tonners to his collection during the past five years. He added 372 100-tonners between 2015 and 2019. In fact, red-and-white bulls have been outperforming their black-and-white counterparts in this area during the past five years. After Stadel, Kian added the most 100-tonners to his total with 339 cows during the past five years.

The number of 100-tonners descending from Delta Olympic, Hidden Future, Laurenzo 2 and Barnkamper Nevada also grew by more than 200 during the past five years. Red-and-white bulls also enjoy a high profile in the list of 10-tonners in the past five years. Stadel boosted his collection most of all with an additional 81, while the younger sire Kian added 38 to his name. Noting 10-tonners, Etazon Lord Lily was the only black-and-white bull able to nudge in between the red-and-white bulls during the past five years. l

Dutch cows Glinzer Jettie 57 and Glinzer Jettie 45 both broke the 10,000kg-of-fatand-protein barrier

Figure 1: Number of 100-tonners in five-year periods (source: Coรถperatie CRV)


number of 100-tonne cows

The total number of 10-tonne cows stands at 3,415, of which 3,333 are from the Netherlands and 82 from Flanders. On average, the 10 tonners achieved this is 4,063 days in milk and produced 126,041kg of milk, at 4.50% fat and 3.50% protein.

10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0




20002004 year




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Tel: 01522 813950 07831 263175 Tel: Tel: 01522 01522 813950 813950 • Mob: Mob: Mob: 07831 07831 263175 263175 Website: Website: Website: Website: Email:


Cow kennels • Perfect shelter • Designed for animal health • Excellent ventilation • Shelter from wind & rain • Shade from the sun • Plenty of fresh air • Ample space • Minimum draught

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FCGFCG Accounting Accounting Ltd.Ltd. Registered Registered in England in England & Wales & Wales no. 11344354 no. 11344354

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Motorsport and calf rearing come together at Dairy-Tech Dairy-Tech 2020 saw #Calfmatters combine two unlikely industries – motor racing and dairying – in a workshop. Professional racing driver Tom Oliphant, who races for Team BMW and has completed the Dubai 24-hour race, kicked off a presentation, about lean management, by discussing the theory of marginal gains. Making the point that it is the smallest margin between winning and losing, Tom explained how motorsport has embraced the idea of continuous, small changes to optimise performance. He stressed that planning, preparation and consistency are key to success and that this approach has delivered qualifying times 1.2 seconds faster than other drivers, as well as pole positions and podium placements. Supporting #Calfmatters’ principle theme for the year, of fine tuning calf rearing, Tom’s presentation was echoed by Karen Halton, from award-winning Chance Hall Farm. She is widely acknowledged as one of the country’s top calf rearers. Karen re-iterated that preparation is key and explained that the way things are done on the farm is under-pinned by processes and protocols, all of which are posted up around the unit so that they can be easily followed by anyone working with the livestock. Attention to detail has paid off. Every area of the calving and calf-rearing system has been scrutinised and improved, some significantly and others with the tiniest of tweaks. A specialist wheelbarrow for newborn calves has been in use for the past year, and the system has been further adapted so that barrow and calf can go onto the weigh plate. This means that all calves can be quickly and easily weighed.

Mastitis treatment – a six-point plan

Karen Halton and Tom Oliphant

“Karen has everything to hand, whether that is calf jackets, or a trolley loaded with navel dip, a refractometer and a dump bucket,” says #Calfmatters’ Matt Yarnall. “The system is streamlined and aims to be as efficient as possible.” The two Dairy-Tech workshops, held in the morning and afternoon, were well attended, with many thought-provoking questions asked to both Tom and Karen. For more information on what was discussed go to:

Share your calf-rearing tips Throughout 2020, #Calfmatters is urging producers to make lots of small, continuous changes on-farm that will add up to make significant improvements in calf well-being, health and performance. The focus is fine tuning what producers and the rest of their herd management team do, to minimise variations in calf husbandry and improve work-routine efficiency and calf performance. #Calfmatters is asking producers to share their top tips on calf rearing via the calfmatters. website. And producers who share their best ideas will

be in with a chance to win a racetrack day, at a location to be arranged, as well as a Cosy Calf calf jacket. To join in, just go to the #Calfmatters website and look for the competition icon. The closing date for the competition is March 31, 2020. For more information, please visit:

When you treat a cow that has mastitis, you want to be sure that you’re in with the best chance of success. So says Boehringer Ingelheim vet Kath Aplin. “And using this checklist, with your vet, will ensure that your mastitis treatment protocols are right for your herd.” • Establish your current treatment success rate: record all clinical mastitis cases in order to analyse the data. • Mastitis detection: if cure rates are below expectations then spending more time on foremilking and early detection, so that treatment can be started more promptly, can make a significant difference. • Tube insertion: wear clean gloves and wipe teats with surgical spirit and cotton wool. This reduces the risk of introducing new pathogens to the udder. Where possible, always use the tube’s short, less-invasive nozzle. • Treatment frequency and duration: use tubes according to the label, unless otherwise directed by your vet. Treating more frequently, or for longer, could result in antibiotic failures. Using fewer tubes could reduce the chance of successful treatment. • Anti-inflammatories: treatment with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) product, such as Metacam, is recommended for all cases of mastitis, alongside antibiotic tubes. NSAIDs have a positive impact on fertility, improve cure rates and provide pain relief. • Antibiotic injections: these may be prescribed by a vet, typically for cows that are not eating or have a high temperature.

For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s products: Telephone: 01344 74 69 60 Email address: ukcustomersupport

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ADVERTISERS’ INDEX AB Agri Agrimin Ltd. Alta Berry’s Agriculture Boehringer Ingelheim Concept Cowhouse Ltd. CRV Avoncroft Ltd./CRV Dairy Spares DP Agri Farmplus FCG Accounting Ltd. ForFarmers/Thompsons Heuven Livestock b.v. Huesker Intershape Kendalls Lallemand Limagrain NMR Quill Productions VDK Products Volac

46 48 15 32, 48 59 32, 48 42, 43, 60 46 32, 56 56 56 11 56 34 48 4 24, 34 7, 19, 29 2, 23 52 52 38


March 14 May 13-16 May 20-21 May 28-30 June 4-6 July 1-2 July 14-16 July 20-23 September 16 October 7

Borderway UK Dairy Expo, Carlisle, Cumbria Balmoral Show, Balmoral Park, Lisburn (Northern Ireland) Grassland & Muck, Ragley Estate, Warwickshire Royal Bath & West Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset Royal Cornwall Show, Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge, Cornwall TotalDairy Seminar, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells, Powys UK Dairy Day, Telford International Centre, Shropshire The Dairy Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset


Insert: Ark Agriculture

MAY CALF-REARING April 24: We focus on how to get the next generation of milkers off to the very best start in our calf rearing special. And we’ll also profile a unique ‘floating’ dairy.

CONTACTS CowManagement is published eight times per year by CRV BV, Publishing Department Editorial team Chief Editor Jaap van der Knaap Editor Rachael Porter Phone: 01394 270587 E-mail: Editing, design and production CRV Publishing Contributing writers Emily Ball, Chris Burgess, Phil Eades, Roger Evans, Sara Gregson, Debbie James, Jennifer Mackenzie, Roly Marks, James Marshall, Allison Matthews, Inge van Drie and Karen Wright Publisher Rochus Kingmans Chief editor’s address P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem, The Netherlands Phone: 0031 26 38 98 821 E-mail: CowManagement online Facebook: Twitter: @cowmanagement Website:


Subscriptions CowManagement is available free of charge to: NMR, CRV Avoncroft, Thompsons, ForFarmers and Boehringer Ingelheim customers. If you think you are eligible, or if you wish to no longer receive CowManagement, then please contact: National Milk Records plc, Fox Talbot House, Greenways Business Park, Bellinger Close, Chippenham SN15 1BN Phone 03330 043043 E-mail: Advertisements Nicci Chamberlin, NMR. Phone 07970 009136 E-mail: Jannet Fokkert, Froukje Visser, Hilda van der Wal P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem, The Netherlands, E-mail:

Disclaimer CowManagement does not necessarily share the views expressed by contributors. No responsibility is accepted for the claims made by advertisers. No responsibility can be accepted by CRV BV for the opinions expressed by contributors. Whilst every effort is made to obtain reliable and accurate information, liability cannot be accepted for errors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. Printer Stephens and George Ltd. Phone 01685 352097 ISSN 1570-5641

Illustrations/pictures Photographs by Veeteelt Photography, Ruth Downing (10, 25, 26, 28, 35), Els Korsten (17 NI, 55), Mark Pasveer (21-22, 36, 47, 51, 54), Alger Meekma (49), and Eveline van Elk (58).

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When used as part of a comprehensive approach to BVD including culling of PIs and biosecurity.

References: 1. Yarnall and Thrusfield (2017) Vet Record doi: 10.1136/vr.104370 2. Kynetec (2019) BVD sales data by value. Full year 2018 3. For active immunisation of cattle against BVDV-1 and BVDV-2, to prevent the birth of persistently infected calves caused by transplacental infection. Bovela lyophilisate and solvent for suspension for injection for cattle contains modified live BVDV-1, non-cytopathic parent strain KE-9: 104.0– 106.0 TCID50, modified live BVDV-2, non-cytopathic parent strain NY-93: 104.0–106.0 TCID50. UK: POM-V. Further information available in the SPC or from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: 01344 746957. Email: Bovela is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, used under licence. ©2019 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: Jul 2019. AHD12644. Use Medicines Responsibly.

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Mindy van het Zomerbloemhof (s. Hotline)

PEAK HOTLINE: THE NUMBER 1 DAUGHTER PROVEN TYPE BULL IN UK Hotline (Glen-D-Haven AltaHotrod x Mountfield Ssi Dcy Mogul) fulfills the high expectations in all leading breed countries. His daughters have beautiful frames, high bone quality and superb udders: top-conformation combined with great fat and protein. This is what we call BETTER COWS | BETTER LIFE.

910 KGS MILK 37.8 KGS FAT 30.1 KGS PROTEIN 4.7 TYPE USA NUMBER 8: TPI 2.727 and 3.45 TYPE CANADA NUMBER 2: LPI 3459 and +12 TYPE ITALY NUMBER 1: PFT 3985 and 3.72 TYPE Dukefarm Hot Liese (s. Hotline)


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Profile for CRV Uitgeverij/CRV Publishers

Cowmanagement March-April 2020  

Cowmanagement March-April 2020