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OC TO B E R/N OVE M B E R 2020

We visit a past NMR/RABDF

Gold Cup winning herd Focus on calf health, feeding and breeding

Is ‘intrinsic motivation’ key to

grazing-cow success?

GET THE LATEST NEWS AT WWW.C OWMA NAGEMENT.CO.UK

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Healthy cows = productive cows Take positive action on Johne’s

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CONTENT FEATURE S

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From the editor Cow talk Value added: dairy delivery Roger Evans Boehringer Ingelheim Health News ForFarmers Nutritional News/ Thompsons Nutritional News 47 CRV Avoncroft Breeding Information 51 NMR Dairy Management News 58 Events and contacts

main article breeding cows for grazing

MAIN A RT IC L E

8 Breeding ‘eager eaters’ REPORT

14 System switch pays dividends for top herd HEA LTH

20 Control Johne’s and don’t let it control you 52 Preventing bovine respiratory disease YOUNG-STOC K SPE C IA L

25 Breeding, feeding and management pointers for successful calf rearing DA IRY MA N AG E M E N T

44 Energy saving ideas help reduce costs

8 special young stock

energy saving electricity

FEEDIN G

48 Control calving pattern for future success/ Pro-active approach to performance BREEDI N G

56 Dutch cows suit new-entrant’s dairy goals

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F a past NMR/RABD

We visit g herd Gold Cup winnin lth, hea f Focus on cal

ding feeding and bree

ivation’ key to Is ‘intrinsic mot s?

ces grazing-cow suc

.COW MAN ST NEWS AT WWW GET THE LATE

AGE MEN T.CO

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44

Will Armitage:

Karen Halton:

“I’ve no doubts that the organic route was the best way to take our business”

“There’s no doing things by halves with Johne’s disease control”

.UK

ON TH E C OV E R

Fresh delivery: an autumn-born calf marks the start of a new season Picture: Mark Pasveer

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FROM THE EDITOR

Inspiration, motivation and pointers on

disease prevention We hope that there’s plenty in this issue to inspire you and, perhaps, also help the ladies in your life to put a little extra milk in the bulk tank. Motivation – or rather the intrinsic motivation of cows to graze – is the theme of our main article, which starts on page eight. Dutch dairy specialists believe that a breeding index for this trait should, and could, be on the cards. And they also explain that how cows behave at grass is not just down to genetics. There’s an inspirational story on page 20. We find out how Halton Farms, and this year’s Women in Dairy award winner Karen Halton, have tackled and continue to reduce the levels of Johne’s disease in their herd. Working with their vet and regular screening are key to success and, despite already making impressive progress, Karen explains why they’re striving to do even better. Controlling and preventing disease is a theme that also features in this issue’s young-stock special. We speak to a vet who’s using thoracic ultrasound scanning to detect

lung lesions and highlight the true level of incidence of sub-clinical bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in heifer calves. Scotland-based vet Jimmy More says it’s an invaluable calf-side tool, which highlights the importance of BRD prevention and a robust approach to calf rearing. And for more pointers on preventing calf pneumonia, we spoke to a vet and a producer about their belt-andbraces approach to controlling BRD. It starts with good colostrum feeding protocols, hygiene and management, backed up with a ‘gold standard’ vaccination programme. See page 30 to find out more. Speaking of gold, Roger Evans is on fine form this issue. His column should strike a chord with many readers and, as always, raise a wry smile. And if that leaves you wanting more, see page six for details about our competition to win a copy of his latest book ‘How now?’. We have three to give away, so be sure to enter. We’ll make sure that winners receive their copies well before Christmas.

RACHAEL PORTER

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COWTALK

Winter package for calves Protect calves and prepare them for winter. That’s the advice from Cargill’s young-stock specialist Bianca Theeruth, as we move into late autumn and winter. “Calves feel the cold and can suffer setbacks, as their immune and respiratory systems are challenged,” she says. “So, just as you would prepare your car for winter driving conditions, you also need to equip the calf to cope with the cold winter months when conditions are less than ideal.” The key areas are housing – making sure it’s draught free, well-ventilated and dry – and providing extra nutrients. As temperatures drop, the calf’s energy requirements for maintenance, growth and immunity increases. “During cold weather consider increasing

feed rate. For every 1°C drop in temperature below 15°C for calves less than three weeks old, maintenance energy requirement increases by 1%,” she adds. “And also consider including a feed additive like Pulmatop, which has a carefully balanced mixture of powerful antioxidants to support the immune system.” This additive also includes plant-based essential oils, which support the respiratory system, and clay minerals, which encourage digestive function and provide intestinal protection.  “Some fine tuning of calf care now, before temperatures fall further, will keep calves on target and help them cope with the elements,” adds Miss Theeruth.

Win a few words from Roger Evans A tale or two from award-winning columnist and producer Roger Evans can always raise a smile. And who doesn’t need a bit of cheer as the nights draw in and we head into winter? So CowManagement has three copies of Roger Evans’ latest book – ‘How now?’ – to give away. To take your chance to win a copy, either comment on our competition post on the CowManagement Facebook page. Or email

your name, address and contact number to cm.office@crv4all.com. Entries close at midnight on Friday November 27, 2020. We’ll then select three winners and make sure they receive their prize, well before the Christmas rush. And if you can’t wait and want to order a copy – and who wouldn’t – visit publisher Merlin Unwin’s website at www.merlinunwin.co.uk or find them on Twitter @merlinunwin

Humane, automatic rodent trap launched A non-toxic, automatically resetting, and humane trap offers an efficient and safe solution to the challenge of controlling rodents at a time when the use of control measures based on toxins is coming under increased scrutiny. The Goodnature A24 rat and mouse trap, available in the UK from Gallagher, is a spring method trap. Rodents are lured into the trap by a highly

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attractive bait before being dispatched by a piston, which is powered by compressed CO2. “Rodents are a persistent nuisance on many farms,” says the company’s Mark Oliver. “Efficient rodent control reduces the risk of the spread of disease to humans and animals, and also limits the damage caused to crops and stores and the consequences of structural damage, particularly to wiring.” He adds that EU biocide regulations are restricting the use of toxins in pest control and consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of toxin-based pest control, meaning there is a need for alternative efficient control methods. The system provides a proven, reliable and safe way to reduce rodent problems. The Goodnature A24 rat and mouse trap is a safe, easy-to-use and automatic system, built to withstand even the harshest weather conditions. Rodents are attracted to the trap by a toxin-free lure, which tastes and smells of

chocolate and is proven to be attractive to rats and mice. It is scientifically formulated for long-lasting attraction in all environments and being based on food-grade ingredients is safe for humans, pets, and wildlife. When the rodent enters the trap, it triggers a spring-loaded mechanism and is killed instantly. The trap then automatically resets ready for the next activation. Each CO2 cylinder will fire up to 24 strikes and a visible counter means it is easy to ensure the trap is always charged. “The system offers a novel, safe and costeffective way to reduce the consequences of rodent infestations at a time when the use of other control methods is being challenged,” Mr Oliver continues. The rat and mouse trap costs £159, including vat, and includes the full starter kit and comes with a two-year warranty. For more information go to www.electricfence-online.co.uk

cowmanagement OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

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Calf supplement aids dehydration recovery A precisely balanced oral rehydration supplement, which can help calves to recover more effectively from dehydration suffered due to diarrhoea, has been launched by Trouw Nutrition GB. Digestive disorders are one of the main causes of mortality in calves and the implications on future performance can result in significant financial losses, according to the company’s Georgina Thomas. “It is not necessarily the diarrhoea itself that causes the high levels of mortality, but the associated dehydration,” she explains. “So rehydration strategies, based on oral rehydration solutions, remain an essential weapon in the battle against diarrhoea.” She adds that the latest research suggests the effectiveness of these strategies can be improved. “Many rehydration solutions on the market include high amounts of glucose. And, at the same time, they typically have a high sodium concentration. This combination can reduce the effectiveness of the product, due to

relative concentration compared to the blood, which is measured as osmolality.” Blood and bodily fluids have an osmolality of around 300mOsm/kg. Anything higher is termed hypertonic and has the effect of pulling more water from the body, increasing the impact of dehydration. A liquid lower than 300mOsm/kg is called hypotonic and has the reverse effect, supporting absorption from the gut into the body. Effective oral supplements will be hypotonic, yet many oral rehydration solutions are hypertonic, which can reduce absorption and can be less effective in controlling dehydration. OsmoFit is a dietetic water-soluble oral rehydration solution for calves designed for use alongside continued feeding of milk or milk replacer. A hypotonic solution containing lower levels of sodium and glucose than other rehydration solutions, it helps stabilise the water and electrolyte balance by providing the required salts and sugars in the optimum amounts and at the correct ratio. It can be

bovens bovens regel o

used during periods of, and recovery from, diarrhoea. “The supplement should be provided as soon as calves show signs of dehydration and have a depressed appetite,” says Ms Thomas. “It does not prevent diarrhoea from occurring, but supports the calf’s recovery by helping treat the consequences of dehydration.”

Selenium status key to protecting milk cheque Producers are being urged to maximise their contract returns by continuing to produce low somatic cell count milk. And feeding protected selenium can help, according to Azelis Animal Nutrition’s Jacob Lakin. “It pays to target less than 100,000 cells/ml of milk all year-round, which indicates diseasefree status and secures your payment bonuses,” says Mr Lakin. Maintaining an adequate selenium status is particularly important as milking herds move into the early winter feeding period.

“Cows have a seleno-dependent enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which protects the epithelial cells in the mammary gland from oxidative stress,” he explains. “Research shows the beneficial effect of ensuring that the selenium levels supplied are adequate, within recommendations, and that the source of the trace element is of high quality.” Mr Lakin adds that feeding a high-quality selenium enriched yeast such as Plexomin Se 2300ppm – with a significant fraction of the mineral supply coming from organic

selenomethionine – will help as part of a multi-faceted approach to keep bulk milk tank SCCs below the crucial 100,000 cells/ml threshold. “What’s more, in high SCC cows the milk yield and composition can also be adversely affected to deliver a ‘double whammy’ of lost returns. A reduction in milk yield is often associated with an increase in mastitis severity. When mastitis develops milk lactose concentration drops, which results in a lower output.

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MAIN ARTICLE GRAZING COW

Breeding ‘eager e a

Could a breeding value for ‘grazing motivation’ be useful as more herds move to grass-based systems? And how does social behaviour play a role in increasing grass intakes? TEXT INGE VAN DRIE & RACHAEL PORTER

A

s milk price pressures push more producers to make the most of grazing and homegrown forage, and consumers expectations are that cows will graze for at least five months of the year, work continues to breed cows that best suit more extensive grass-based systems. But Dutch geneticists say that looking at figures for persistency, fertility and feet and legs, don’t go far

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enough to breed the ideal grazing cow. A cow’s intrinsic motivation to graze is also vital. Herds managed on grass-based, often block calving, systems have always selected sires to breed cows that have persistent lactations, rather than extremely high peak yields. Feet and legs have also been important traits too, as the cow needs to walk to pasture and spend long periods grazing. Capacity is vital too – she needs to ability to consume large volumes of forage. And, due to seasonal calving, fertility is a must.

Intrinsic motivation Many producers already select CRV sires using a grassland index. This ranks bulls based on several characteristics that reflect the suitability for grazing. These are typically sires with good fertility, persistence, feet and legs, fitness, and medium stature.

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Marco Winters: “There’s certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence that some cows graze better than others”

e aters’

each other in the amount of time per day they spend grazing. And these differences between cows are consistent, and will be seen throughout the grazing season. The characteristics of individual cows seem to determine the urge to graze.’

Social cows

But these traits are not enough to breed the ideal grazing cow, according to Frank Lenssinck, from the peat-meadows innovation centre in the Netherlands. The social component also plays a role. “I call it the intrinsic motivation of a cow to graze,” he says. “We recently compared grazing behaviour of different breeds of in-calf heifers, which showed that Jerseys consumed more low-quality grass than Holsteins. Some cattle are simply more willing to graze than others. My dream is that one day there will be a breeding value for this.” It’s not yet the case, but it could be on the cards, according to Wageningen Livestock Research’s Kees van Reenen. For the ‘Amazing Grazing’ project, he looked at the grazing behaviour of cows in the centre’s herd. “Sensors allowed us to measure the grazing time of cows, 24/7, throughout the grazing season,” he says. “This showed that cows differ significantly from

Mr van Reenen cites the results of other studies within ‘Amazing Grazing’. “We found that cows that grazed for longer periods have a high grass intake, but more interesting – and surprising – is that the grazing behaviour of individual cows within a group can also have an influence on their herd mates. “In every herd you have ‘synchronous’ cows – those that ‘follow’ – and ‘asynchronous’ cows, which are more autonomous. Synchronous cows do what most cows do. For example, if most of the group grazes or lies down, a synchronous cow will do the same.” The distance between cows also influences the amount of time spent grazing. “Cows that stay closer to their herd mates are synchronous and, on average, graze for longer,” says Mr van Reenen. “These are all indications that a ‘pasture’ or grazing cow has a certain behavioural profile. The idea is that a social cow is a better grazing cow,” he says. “We’ve investigated this in a limited number of cows and, to calculate breeding values, we’d have to undertake research with many more cows. Only then would we be able to translate the results into characteristics that are easy to measure in large numbers of animals.” Swiss research also shows that there is a difference in cow grazing behaviour, as Frank Lenssinck points out. “You have ‘select feeders’ and ‘bulk feeders’,” he explains. “Select feeders walk a lot, find the tastiest piece of grass and chew it up. Bulk feeders immediately start grazing and eating up everything they encounter.” Which type of cow is more suitable depends on the grazing system. “With a high-quality pasture with a lot of ryegrass, selection leads to more grazing losses. So the ideal cows in this situation would be bulk feeders. “But if you have herb-rich grassland, the cow should be looking for a high-quality ration and you’re better off with select feeders.” AHDB Dairy geneticist Marco Winters agrees that some cows do, indeed, have an inherently greater desire to graze. “But it’s measuring it that’s the issue – particularly on a large enough scale to gather meaningful data,” he says. “So I doubt, very much, that any specific index to indicate ‘grazing motivation’ will be developed soon.” That said, he says that, by defualt, cattle have and continue to be bred for their ability to consume large

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MAIN ARTICLE GRAZING COW

quantities of feed. “We know from work carried out more than 20 years ago, at Langhill, that high genetic merit animals will have higher herbage intakes at grazing compared to their lower genetic merit herd mates. So that’s not new.”

Learnt behaviour Work is ongoing in other parts of the world to look at grazing behaviour: “But that’s mainly looking more at the extremes – and what cows will do when grazing is poor quality or scarce. It’s looking to see if some cows are better at foraging under difficult conditions, but that won’t be reflected in most typical UK grazing systems.” Mr Winters is also interested in learnt behaviour – how cows will copy their herd mates. “If a herd is used to grazing, cows knows what to do when they’re turned out. And younger cows and heifers will copy the behaviour – some better than others. “There’s certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence that some cows graze better than others. Some are not bothered by rain or wind or cold conditions – they’ll keep on grazing if there’s grass in front of them. Others will come and bawl at the gate.” And there is some science behind this – based on genetics and the environment. “But I’m not sure if the research can provide us with solutions that would be beneficial. Particularly when we know that motivation to eat and graze is, indirectly, already

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picked up in the UK herds’ existing breeding values, as cows that are poor at grazing will not perform as well.” Mr Lenssinck is a strong advocate for more research into grazing behaviour. “We want dairy producers to graze their herds, but we don’t do enough about it in terms of selection and breeding.” He would, for example, like to see research on feed intake also take place in grazing. ‘If you only measure feed intake when cows are housed, you don’t see if a cow is a grazer – whether she is able to harvest grass herself.”

Futuristic idea Breeding for grazing behaviour may still be a futuristic idea, but Mr Lenssinck says that there are opportunities for producers to select for it already, despite a lack of hard numbers. He calls it ‘natural selection’. “Walk among your herd when the cows are grazing and you’ll soon see which of them are really getting down to business with harvesting grass. “These cows hardly look at you – they’re much too busy grazing,” he says, adding that it is better not to keep a heifer from a cow that you see doing nothing at grazing for more than two minutes. “The same goes for cows that immediately lie down as soon as they go out to grass. You want cows that take every opportunity to graze.” l

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VALUE ADDED DAIRY DELIVERY

Name Chris Wilson Herd size 220 cows Adding value grocery staples delivery

Belfast

Dairy essentials, to customers’ doors What started as an attempt to ensure that local people had access to fresh dairy produce during the COVID-19 lockdown and quickly evolved into a door-to-door delivery service of grocery essentials. “Our farm park was hit at the worst possible time by the lockdown,” says Chris Wilson, who, with his wife Helen, runs Streamvale Open Farm Park, near Belfast. The couple farm in partnership with Helen’s family, her uncle, Tim, and his son, Patrick, and they manage the 220-cow dairy herd on the farm. “We’d just opened the farm to the public in March, after our usual winter break, and had to close again. So we were in a bit of a panic and worried about the staff we’d furloughed. That’s when I thought: ’How can we deliver fresh milk to customers’ doors?’.” So ‘Moo to you’ was born, initially just to supply customers, direct to their door, with milk and other dairy produce. “We approached our milk buyer, Dale Farm, to see if we could set up a delivery round using its produce and borrowed a van from an electrician friend,” says Chris. “And we were up and running within a week, using the open farm’s website and social media platforms to promote the delivery service.” It was all extremely fast, but so was the customer response. “We soon had hundreds of customers, picking up an average of 30 news ones a day during lockdown. And we expanded from one

delivery van to five, as well as taking on five full and part-time staff.” The range of produce delivered has also grown with demand. “We started with a few staples, so dairy, eggs, potatoes and bread. Now we have a much wider range, including meat, fish, fruit and veg. Basically, if enough customers have requested it then we’ve found a local supplier and met that demand.” Today Moo to you delivers within a 40-mile radius of the farm and, although the rate of growth has fluctuated, the business is now serving more than 3,000 customers and numbers are still increasing. “We did brace ourselves for a fall off, once restrictions began to ease. But it’s not happened. We’re retaining customers. We may only be delivering to some once a week, but we’re still providing a vital service and taking some of their food-budget spend, that may have previously spent at the supermarket.” Chris and Helen hope this continues, even though the farm park is now, once again, open to the public and they now have twice the usual workload. “With our son Jake born in the middle of all of this it has been a challenge. But it’s all good – we’re promoting local businesses and bringing customers closer to where their food is produced. That may be why some customers have continued with their deliveries. I think they like that connection. And, of course, the food we’re delivering is top-notch quality and fresh.”

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HERD REPORT ARMITAGE FAMILY

System switch pays dividends for top herd

As the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup celebrates its centenary, we revisit a renowned dairy unit and the producers who scooped the coveted award, two years in a row, back in the late 1990s. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

M Organic sward: cows grazing at Wil’s Leicestershire-based unit

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ore than 20 years after twice tasting NMR/ RABDF Gold Cup glory, one Leicestershirebased herd is unrecognisable, in terms of its cows and system. But under the dynamic management of the same award-winning team, the dairy business is actually more profitable and certainly more sustainable. Wil Armitage was herd manager for Peter DixonSmith, owner of the Tugby-based pedigree Lyons herd, when it won the coveted award in 1996 and 1997. He’d been working with Peter since he was 22 years old, after studying at Cannington College, joining the business as herd manager in 1990. “And in that 30 years many things have really changed – my working relationship with Peter, my outlook, and the dairy herd and business,” says Wil.

Back in the 1990s, Peter’s prestige Holstein herd was managed on a high-input-high-output system, averaging up to 12,000 litres of milk at 4.28% butterfat and 3.30% protein. “It was all about high yields and high type, as was the Gold Cup competition. The competition has now changed, taking a much more holistic view of dairy businesses, and that’s also the direction we’ve taken,” he adds.

Dairy partnership Peter always planned to sell the pedigree herd when he was 70 and did just that in 2003. At this time, in the early 2000s, poor milk prices put dairy margins under extreme pressure. That said, Peter wanted to continue milking at the unit and offered Wil a farm business tenancy. “But I

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COMPANY PROFILE Name NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winner Herd size Average yield Organic land managed

didn’t have the finance or, I’m not afraid to say, the confidence to take it on at that time. So he came back and said that he wanted to work with me and offered me a partnership. I jumped at the chance.” So the dairy unit was restocked in 2004, with 170 commercial and more robust cows: “But moving to a less intensive and lower input system wasn’t enough to grow a business for the future. All our margins were tight, both dairy and arable, and the business would have quickly plateaued. There was no point carrying on as we were,” says Wil. “This gave us an opportunity to re-evaluate the business and to take a different direction. I suggested we take the organic route, to command a premium price for our milk and lift the business out of the doldrums,” says Wil. He says that, at that time, Peter was opposed to taking the organic route. “He openly said it was a ‘backward step’ and he also said ‘on your head be it’. We had a share farming agreement at this point and he was prepared to give it a go.” Wil decided to ‘go for it’ 100% going, as he calls it, ‘cold turkey’ and fully converted the herd and farm to organic in just 2.5 years, rather than the more typical three. “I think we did it quicker than anyone had ever done it before – or since. We bought organic forage in to see us through our second

Wil Armitage 1996 and 1997 350 cows 7,800 litres, at 4.45% butterfat and 3.45% protein 1,200 hectares

Keythorpe, Leicestershire

winter, which was expensive. But the returns we saw for our organic milk in 2007/2008 were well worth the investment. “And, although there was a lot of head scratching throughout the conversion period which began in 2005, by 2008 we’d done it and, after the most profitably year we’d ever had, Peter was firmly on board with the organic system.”

Calving pattern Despite this success, Wil continued to question his future direction in the industry and, with a Nuffield Scholarship, set out to determine the true value of organic dairying and its viability. “The good news was that I discovered that organic farming is extremely viable, providing the market is prepared to pay a premium.” It certainly does for the pedigree Keythorpe organic herd. Milk is sold to Omsco to make Wyke Farms’ organic cheddar, which is then exported to the US. Home-bred heifers, some by famous Lyons cow families including Mary and Katie, have pushed today’s herd up to 350 milkers. The herd is autumn calving, compared to the previous pedigree herd’s all-year-round pattern. “An autumn block – from late August through to November – suits our land and our buildings. We’re able to make good quality

Future milkers: the next generation is set to ensure the continued success of the organic herd

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HERD REPORT ARMITAGE FAMILY

Wil Armitage: “I’ve no doubt that we took the best route for the business”

Organic forage: good silage is key to the autumn-calving herd’s success

forage for winter feeding and I prefer this system because I can control cow rations more easily,” says Wil. “Spring calvers can struggle to get back in calf in the summer, due to heat stress. That’s a climate change issue and it’s only going to get worse.” Average yields are down considerable since restocking and organic conversion, predominantly due to the lower-input system and the drop back to twice-a-day milking. “The cows are capable of averaging around 9,500 litres, but we don’t push them too hard,” explains Wil. “We’re averaging 7,800 litres, at 4.45% butterfat and 3.45% protein. Our costs are under control. Cows are successfully grazed from mid-February through to October. “Fertility always needs attention, but breeding with good management trait bulls with more knowledge from genomic testing means that it continues to improve. Calving interval currently stands at 388 days, but we’ve been expanding and supplying cows to another organic herd, under a contract farming agreement.”

Udder health Somatic cell count is higher compared to the Lyons herd, standing at 215,000 cells/ml compared to just 93,000 cells/ml in the late 1990s. “We’re using very little antibiotic and what’s surprising is that we now see just four cases of mastitis per 100 cows. When SCC was less than 100,000 cells/ml we saw around 25 cases per 100 cows,” adds Wil. The 180º turn has proved to be a success. But Wil and Peter didn’t stop there. By 2011, just seven years after joining the farming partnership, Wil, by reinvesting his profit straight back into the business, was up to a 50% share. And, as well as the 350-cow organic herd, Wil and Peter also now own and run another 200-cow organic herd, where Wil’s daughter Jess works as herdsperson, nine miles up the road at Glebe Farm. This was originally purchased by the partners as a unit to house dry cows and heifers, but underwent organic conversion in 2012. An organic milking herd was added in 2015. And Jess is building an organic brand – PrOganic –

16

starting with processing milk to sell through her vending machines, and the organic cheese. Eggs from Wil’s wife Michaela’s poultry enterprise are also part of the organic range, as well as oats from the organic arable enterprise. The family, with help from good staff and partners, now runs more than 1,200 hectares of organic land. “It’s hard work, and juggling several enterprises and the herd can get pretty intense,” admits Wil. “But I’m doing it for myself now – and still working with Peter. It’s the best of both worlds. And I do try to strike a work-life balance. “And it’s great to have our two children come back to farm. Our son Giles is taking on the organic arable enterprise, plus some beef, and he’s also helping Jess to run the herd at Glebe Farm.”

Best route Wil can see them both taking a greater role and finding their niche in the farm business in the future but, for now, Wil says that there are always things that can be improved and more efficiencies to be had. “It’s about being open minded and not dismissing anything. We learned that back in 2004 when we revised the dairy system. We’re still dairying successfully, but we’re following a different set of rules now and I’ve no doubt that we took the best route for the business at the time.” And what about the heady days of Gold Cup winning glory? Does Wil want to revisit that? “Yes – we do want to enter again. In fact, I had hoped to enter this year, but I wasn’t entirely happy with herd fertility. When we do enter, I want us to be ‘knocking on the door’, so that’s something we’ll look at in the near future. “It will be great to do that, as a family, with Jess and Giles on board. And I don’t think an organic herd has won the Gold Cup before, so that’s certainly something to strive for.” l Finalists are currently being judged for the 2020 NMR/ RABDF Gold Cup and this will be the 100th year that the Gold Cup will be presented to the country’s leading dairy business.

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A FEW WORDS FROM ROGER EVANS

Shropshire-based producer and awardwinning columnist Roger Evans ruminates about the disconnect between consumers and food producers.

Crunch time There was a piece in our local paper recently about big tractors and heavy agricultural machinery on narrow country lanes. It didn’t say as much, but it quite clearly inferred that this traffic was a nuisance. At no time did it acknowledge that these machines were on their way to produce food. There is a lot of land around here that’s used to grow cereals. This only works if these fields get a dressing of muck in rotation. A friend was carting muck up to these fields and he was on his second load when he was waved down outside a cottage and greeted with: ‘I don’t want tractors going past my house all day – make this your last load’. The man had only moved in two months before. I had a similar experience about five years ago. I bought a field of winter wheat straw and the field was adjoining the village. On a Sunday morning there was nothing much on so I thought that I would cart some bales. I was half way through the second load when I saw a man climb a garden fence and come across the field towards me. I didn’t know the man and I don’t know that I have seen him since. I’ve always had an eye for detail and can remember he was wearing a dressing gown, he had a bare chest and bare legs, and I remember wondering if he had anything on under the dressing gown. But I didn’t wonder for long. He had on a pair of flip flops, not the best of footwear for a prickly winter wheat stubble, so his progress was slow. But, best of all, he had a mug in his hand. I was a bit ‘dry’ from Saturday night and I thought: ‘that’s nice, he’s bringing me a cup of coffee’. When he was 20 yards away I stopped the engine and he came around to talk to me through the gap where there used to be a door. I was expecting a cup of coffee, instead I got a bollocking. “Do you think that I moved into the countryside to be woken in the morning by your noise?” It was a longer speech than that, but I have taken out all the words that began with ‘f’. I can do indignant as well as the best of them. I had been up to milk at 3am and I wasn’t about to be taken to task by someone who was still in bed at 11.30am. He got more than he bargained for and, just to finish with a flourish, I put my foot down on the throttle and turned the key. The old Matbro roared into life and, as he was standing between the wheels, he jumped back and spilt his drink down his dressing gown. That is my main concern over a no-deal Brexit. When it comes to the crunch, there is a total disconnect between the public and what we do as farmers.

“I was a bit ‘dry’ from Saturday night and I thought: ‘that’s nice, he’s bringing me a cup of coffee”

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HEALTH JOHNE’S

Control Johne’s

and don’t let it control you Good advice and strict control plans have seen Johne’s levels take a tumble on one Cheshire-based dairy unit, but there’s no let-up in the team’s commitment as they strive to reduce levels even further. TEXT KAREN WRIGHT

J

ohne’s disease threatens all dairy herds, and it’s nigh on impossible to eradicate. But, as Cheshirebased producer Karen Halton says, we know a lot more about this highly infectious disease now than we did 10 years ago. “And if producers follow the advice and keep control measures up to date, we can make significant inroads into its control.” Karen has put her money where her mouth is regarding Johne’s control. She joined husband Tom on the family dairy unit in 2008, and since then has challenged health protocols and made improvements to take herd health, and particularly young-stock management, to a new level. Going back a decade, soon after this unit merged two herds, red and amber Johne’s cows – those with some level of infection – accounted for between 18% and 20% of the Congleton-based herd. This figure has now dropped significantly and has been as low as 4% in the Halton’s 530-cow crossbred herd. Karen is a leading light among UK dairy producers when it comes to young-stock care. Her input into this area and contribution to teaching

Karen Halton (centre) with husband Tom (right) and Tom’s son Jack (left)

others through the AHDB Strategic Farms platform have contributed to her recent win of the Women in Dairy Award. “When I started to get involved in calf care I had no preconceived ideas, so I’ve always asked for advice,” says Karen, acknowledging the role of the farm’s vet, Mark Hickinson from Horizon Vets, in the success of

Stress-free cows: consistent management plays a role in Johne’s disease control

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Calf care: picking up infected Johne’s cows helps to protect the next generation

their Johne’s control programme. It was clear from the onset that a rigorous plan was needed. There’s no doing things by halves with Johne’s control if you’re going to stop it spreading within the herd.” Based on their HerdWise results – a quarterly milk test for detecting antibodies to Johne’s disease – high risk cows were clearly identified and calved away from the rest of the herd, and their colostrum was not fed to heifer calves. A CCTV system in the farmhouse could identify cows as they calved and made sure calves were moved quickly to prevent infection. Keeping the herd strictly closed and breeding ‘red’ cows to beef bulls, saw infected cow numbers fall. Their commitment to Johne’s control and their continued progress were recognised in the NMR HerdWise Johne’s Best Practice award in 2016, when Karen and Tom scooped this top prize; they were second in 2015 and pipped to the post by the winner who impressed the judges with a few additional measures including using a steam cleaner for calf pens. “I was determined to make the necessary improvements and improve our calf pen cleaning system, which we did,” says Karen. But this award wasn’t a pinnacle in the control measures for Johne’s.

Johne’s teach-in “We now know so much more about Johne’s. There’s a lot more knowledge out there,” adds Karen, referring to her ‘teach-in’ from Mark Hickinson and NMR vet Karen Bond. They discussed ‘shedders’ and ’super-shedders’ at a farm visit; an area Karen Halton wasn’t really aware of before; and how a cow’s risk of shedding can increase significantly in some circumstances, such as if she’s under more stress. And the importance of managing and ultimately culling high risk cows. “Also, we now know that the Johne’s causing pathogen can be spread in muck and slurry, so we don’t let our heifers graze any land that might be affected.” Following the vet’s advice, and their better understanding of Johne’s, controls have been stepped up during the past three years. All cows identified red or amber, which are high and medium risk cows, calve in a separate yard and no

colostrum from these cows is used – not even for beef calves. Even ‘green’ cows, showing no Johne’s infection, are calved in a separate pen that is cleaned out after every calving. All dry cow yards are mucked out every two weeks to reduce the risk of infections. But there’s still the need to drill a bit deeper as they find that achieving even lower levels is getting tougher and control becomes more challenging. “It’s great to see only 4% red and amber cows,” adds Karen. “But the next quarter’s results can be 11%. This might be down to a couple of infected cows that were dry at the previous test.” So to get even more information and make sure they don’t miss any possible risks, Karen and her herd manager Simon Broomhall are HerdWise screening monthly, for a block of three or four months. It’s no extra effort as the NMR milk recording sample used for quality testing and taken at the routine recording is used. “We’re wanting consecutive monthly results,” says Karen “It will help us pick up any cows that were previously dry or not recorded. While there are relatively few now, if we miss them they could start the cycle off again by infecting the next generation.”

Low shedders She also knows that low shedders could become high shedders if they’re under a bit more stress, such as during calving. “These cows might not have shown up as positive previously. We’re at a stage now where we need to drill down and pick up any rumbling cases if we want to get to negligible levels.” With few high risk cows, and with pressure from their milk buyer to reduce production early in the coronavirus pandemic, any red cows were culled. “Test and cull isn’t a policy that we’d have followed a few years ago but, with the small number of cases we now have, it’s an option we can afford to use.” And they know they are a victim of their success in some ways. The ethos in this herd, which was a finalist in the 2018 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup, is stress-free and calm. Visitors find a ‘chilled’ herd of cows and no rushing around. It’s a management situation that pays dividends; the herd averages 11,500kg, at 3.80% butterfat and 3.40% protein, on three-times-a-day milking. It’s also an image that appeals to consumers, who are welcome to visit the farm and look around the calf shed and see the calving yard. They can also order milk via their new doorstep delivery service and buy milk and smoothies from the on-farm vending machine. However, the calm environment created by the Haltons and their team can suppress lurking disease, particularly Johne’s, making it that much harder to pick up infections. “This is why more data and records are essential,” adds Karen. “We can pick up blips and look back at previous HerdWise reports to see what a cow’s history looks like. It will be our next step in bringing down rates. “I know that the experts say that Johne’s is almost impossible to eliminate from a herd but, while I may not see it happen in my lifetime, I’m prepared to give it a damn good go.” l

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airy-Tech in February 2021. he first rural Gold Cup was awarded in 1920, so iversified rsified rural enterprises enterprises & & 020 should have been the centenary year. ifiedrural ruralenterprises enterprises&& fied Sadly, due to the pandemic, we’ve had to ons ations ostpone the celebrations. But we will draw s tailored on tailored to your to your business business ilored toyour yourbusiness business ored to TD MTD ADVERTISEMENT

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HEALTH NEWS

High gutworm exposure risk to grazed cattle A new parasite tracking initiative from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK is reporting an increase in exposure to the gutworm Ostertagia ostertagi in cattle during the 2020 grazing season, across England, Wales and Scotland. Liver fluke exposure is currently low, except for a hot spot in south west Scotland. The data is collected from 90 dairy farms in Great Britain in association with National Milk Laboratories. Data to the end of August 2020

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shows that around 80% of tested herds now have high levels of Ostertagia ostertagi antibody in a bulk milk sample, which indicated high exposure to this worm during the grazing season. “This highlights the potential risk that Ostertagia ostertagi may pose to cattle of all ages grazing in all regions of Great Britain,” says Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health vet Sioned Timothy. “Herds that have not been treated for worms during the grazing season should consider testing a bulk milk sample. They should be mindful that the warm and wet autumn weather will promote ongoing larval activity on pasture and could leave young stock at risk of parasitic gastroenteritis,” she warns. Producers can request a bulk milk test through their vet or animal health advisor. It is different story for liver fluke where 68% of herd presented no or very low levels of antibody in a bulk milk sample. However, a small number of herds tested positive. “There is some evidence that antibody levels are increasing in westerly areas of England, Wales and, most notably, south west Scotland. Producers who haven’t treated herds for liver fluke this year should consider testing to determine whether chronic fluke infections are impacting on productivity,” adds Ms Timothy.

Conference focused on sustainability This year’s Women in Dairy Conference took place, virtually, in early October. Speakers focused on the theme of sustainability. In a joint presentation, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health vet adviser Ailsa Milnes and Karen Halton, who manages a 530-cow allyear-round calving herd with her husband Tom, examined how healthy calves are at the heart of sustainability. Karen has made a wide range of small changes to how they manage calving and young calves at the Halton’s award-winning Cheshire-based unit. The aim is to get the calves off to a flying start and Karen shared the farm’s protocol for managing calving cows, as well as their calves. These include having a clear and easilyaccessible copies of the colostrum and management protocols in the calf shed. To be sustainable, Karen aims to rear healthy calves and simple protocols, which are easy for everyone to follow.

Throughout 2020, #Calfmatters has championed the idea of reviewing existing calf-rearing systems in order to make small, continuous improvements. Together, these changes will add up to make significant improvements in calf wellbeing, health and performance. “Fine tuning what you and the rest of the farm team do minimises variation and improves performance efficiency,” Ailsa Milnes told the conference. “When added together, these can make a real difference to growth rates and sustainability with fewer inputs needed to deliver a more productive animal.” Following a short break, the conference re-convened in the evening to announce the Dairy Industry Woman of the Year award, which was won this year by Karen Halton, from Cheshire-based Halton Farms. For more information visit www.womenindairy. co.uk or www.calfmatters.co.uk.

Boost calf immunity With plans in place for winter housing, now is the time to think about giving calves and young cattle a ‘primeboost’ against bovine respiratory disease, by delivering a vaccination programme with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s Bovalto Respi range. Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the most prevalent diseases that affects cattle and is caused by a number of factors including: environmental, physiological and physical stress; host immunity; and multiple viral and bacterial pathogens. “Vaccination, used alongside optimal nutrition and housing conditions, is essential for controlling respiratory disease,” says Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s vet Sioned Timothy. “A recent study found that calves previously vaccinated with Bovalto Respi Intranasal had an increased antibody response to PI3 and RSV, two key BRD causing pathogens, after the first dose of a primary course of Bovalto Respi injectable vaccine. This approach is also used in other species and human medicine, and is known as a ‘prime-boost’. “Sequential administration of different forms of the same antigen, for example as a live intranasal vaccine followed by a killed injectable vaccine, interact with the immune system in a synergistic way, to maximise the immune response. This approach provides animals with robust, long-lasting immunity to challenge,” adds Ms Timothy. The Bovalto range is the only one available that uses identical RSV and PI3 components, in live and killed presentations, designed and developed with inspiration from the latest advances in human and animal medicine.

For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim’s products: www.boehringer-ingelheim.co.uk www.calfmatters.com Telephone: 01344 74 69 60 Email address: ukcustomersupport @boehringer-ingelheim.com

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YOUNG STOCK 26 Amino-acid balance Protein’s building blocks are key to calf milk replacer efficiency

30 Sub-clinical BRD Thoracic ultrasound scanning highlights hidden disease

33 Inspiring producer Calf rearer stresses importance of good hygiene

34 Beefing up value Tips on producing cross-bred calves that the market wants

38 What’s new? A round up of the latest calfrearing products

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YOUNG-STOCK SPECIAL CALF MILK REPLACERS

Balance the protein

building blocks

The amino-acid ratio in calf milk replacers is now recognised as key to maximising daily live-weight gains. We spoke to a leading nutritionist to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

L

ess can be more, particularly when focusing on protein levels in calf milk replacers. This, explains Cargill’s US-based nutritionist Jim Quigley, is because it’s not about the amount of protein: “It’s the amino acids – and their balance – within that protein that really counts.” He says that optimising the amino acid balance in calf milk replacers has been the focus of Cargill’s research programmes for quite a few years now. “Monogastric nutrition – pig and poultry – has investigated aminoacid balance for many decades. And we’ve been working hard to ‘catch up’ and emulate this approach,” says Dr Quigley, who heads up the research programme. The young calf is, after all, monogastric until it is weaned. And the latest research means that calf nutrition is ‘hot on the heels’ of developments in these two monogastric livestock sectors. Calf milk replacers (CMRs) are formulated, and often selected by producers, based on crude protein (CP) content. “But what calves actually require, for optimal growth, are specific building blocks, or amino acids,” explains Dr Quigley. The changing dynamics of rumen development as the calf matures – such as microbial populations, rumen activity, diet changes, and the actual flow of amino acids to the intestines – are difficult to predict and the amino acid requirements of young calves have eluded researchers many years. “Pre-weaning, calves receive nearly all their daily protein intake from milk or milk replacer, so all of the amino acids required for growth will come from this liquid diet. And this can be achieved with a lower concentration of crude protein in milk replacer,” stresses Dr Quigley. “It’s not a question of how

Jim Quigley: “The latest developments will allow producers to save costs and optimise growth” 26

much protein, but what is that protein made up of, in terms of amino acids, and how are they balanced. “Feeding milk replacers with an ideal balance of essential amino acids will perform better than milk replacers that are not supplemented and balanced, even if crude protein contents are the same. And a good nutritionist, selling a reputable CMR, should be able to confirm that the milk replacer is balanced for essential amino acids.”

Maximising growth While the initial focus, with regard to amino-acid balance in calf milk replacers has been on lysine and methionine, there are others that are crucial to calf development and growth, including histidine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. “We’re looking for an advantage when it comes to maximising efficient calf growth. The key here is to supply the precise amino acids that the calf requires to facilitate optimal daily live-weight gains prior to weaning and to minimise waste,” says Dr Quigley. “Amino acids, or protein, not utilised by the calf will simply be excreted – as urea, predominantly in urine. This has implications for producers’ pockets – it’s literally ‘going down the drain’ – and it’s not good for the environment. More precise calf feeding will help producers. Many target daily live-weight gains of between 700g and 800g per day to calve heifers at 24 months old. Buying the most expensive highest protein CMR is no longer a guarantee of success. “So these latest developments will allow producers to save costs and optimise growth,” says Dr Quigley. “And they can do their bit for the environment.” There’s legislation in place that stipulates that producers must reduce their GHG emissions and/or carbon footprint yet. “And since it’s about reducing waste – in this instance nitrogen waste that’s simply not being utilised by the calf – it does have a financial benefit. So it can’t be ignored.” Work has revealed, for example, that 30g of lysine per kilogramme of protein is a typical pre-weaned calf requirement. “Any more than that is a waste – the calf won’t utilise it for growth and it will simply be excreted. Most CMRs contain 100g of lysine per kilogramme of

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protein. That’s 70g more than the calf’s requirement.” Ratios are important too – it’s vital that the calf isn’t limited in terms of any amino acid. “A calf may require 30g of lysine in every kilogramme of CMR – and it may be supplied. But if methionine, for example, or another amino acid level is insufficient or ‘limiting’, this will slow her growth rate.” It’s the balance of amino acids, as well as the required amounts, that promotes daily live-weight gain at a lower concentration of CP in the milk replacer. It allows for more efficient use of dietary protein, while reducing milk replacer costs and the cost per unit of body-weight gain. “The first trials that we published were in conventional 20% and 22% CP milk replacer feeding programmes. In those studies, the same calf-weight gain supported by a 22% CP milk replacer without added amino acids was achieved in calves fed a 20% CP milk replacer with added amino acids.” Producers have had access to Cargill’s research-proven concept of amino-acid balancing, AmNeo, in the US for several years. “Producers are seeing a good return on their investment. In fact we’re about to launch the third generation of this concept. The fine tuning of amino acids is on-going, as we learn more about the role that each on plays in calf growth. Our data showed that the second generation of AmNeo resulted – across all of our trials – in an 8% increase in daily live-weight gain for the first two months of age. And a Spanish trial has shown that for every 100g of additional live-weight gain up until weaning, heifers produced an additional 313kg of milk during their first lactation,” explains Dr Quigley.

Optimal balance First-generation AmNeo is available and being used in the UK and Ireland and, based on the research and commercial experience in the US, the developments achieved with the second-generation amino-acid based CMR should be incorporated in the future. CMRs with an optimal aminoacid balance are often most cost-effective than products with higher CP. “Higher CP percentage CMRs tend be more costly than the amino-acid balanced CMRs that can actually contain less CP. And feeding these can be more targeted, which also contributes to reduced feed costs. “Our work with producers have shown that a 24% CP CMR can be more efficient at achieving optimal calf growth rates compared to a 26% CP CMR, which is, typically, more expensive. So it’s well worth ‘interrogating’, rather than blindly purchasing the highest CP CMR that you can afford and assume that it will give you the weight gains you need to hit a 24-month age-at-first-calving target.” Instead, he advises producers to look beyond the quoted CP level, and find out about the protein or amino-acid quality – not quantity. “If you want results, ask your nutritional adviser for more information about the amino-acid balance,” adds Dr Quigley. “You’ll optimise growth rates and potentially reduce your CMR costs. And you will definitely reduce waste and nitrogen emissions. There are so many wins to be had, simply from looking beyond the label and work with a trusted supplier to translate what the label means in terms of amino-acid supply and requirements.” l

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ADVERTORIAL

Choose a calf milk for your specific needs Modern calf milk replacer formulation is becoming more sophisticated and multi-functional – so much so that there should always be a quality nutrition product available that is right for your calves and rearing objectives.

F

or great results on any calf unit, it’s important to invest wisely in a proven milk formula product for the crucial pre-weaning period. It’s also worth following a few simple practical steps on farm to make the most of your investment, says Volac research scientist Dr Jessica Cooke. “Research clearly shows the benefits, in terms of cow fertility, longevity and lifetime milk production, of hitting growth targets and calving down close to 24 months of age,” she says. “We know that feeding a good heifer calf up to 900g (750g minimum) of performanceformulated milk powder daily is needed to meet optimum rearing targets – and absolutely crucial if you want to calve heifers down with

adequate body size at 24 months. But more importantly, after ensuring newborn calves have received enough high-quality colostrum, we also know feeding modern dairy calves to this level makes sound economic sense.” Dr Cooke adds that feeding higher milk replacer levels helps ensure more heifers calves close to 24 months which in turn leads to more heifers reaching a second lactation. Heifers only become profitable halfway through lactation two so it is essential that heifers reach at least second lactation. So, providing the necessary nutrition to sustain rapid growth rates (>750g per day) during the first two months of life should not only result in more efficient and economical heifer rearing, but also deliver greater lifetime milk output when these replacement animals join the milking herd.

Dr Jessica Cooke from Volac: “It’s important to invest wisely in a proven milk formula product for the crucial pre-weaning period.”

“Research has shown that there is a large amount of important early life development in the pre-weaned phase. The development of both mammary cells and the gut – and metabolic programming – all take place during this crucial early life period, so feeding high levels of milk replacer enables us to take full advantage. It’s also the time when feed conversion efficiency is at its highest, so choose your milk replacer wisely. There are even milk formulas available now, such as Volac’s Imunogard® for dairy farms struggling to manage persistent digestive disturbances in their calves.”

Maintain good hygiene Dr Cooke explains that bacteria and viruses are prevalent in large numbers on all farms and the diseases these and other germs cause in calves are common and costly. Without proper cleaning and disinfection, the pathogen load will increase in calf buildings and on feeding equipment. This means disease can easily spread from calf to calf from contamination in their environment. Ideally, all-in-all-out pens (and buildings as well) should be utilised. “If you are struggling to manage digestive disturbances in your calves, try improving hygiene as a priority and always make sure your milk replacer contains only correctly processed, high quality ingredients. Remember, labels don’t really tell you clearly what’s in the bag, so always feel free to ask the manufacturer to explain the label to you if you need more clarity.”

Improving hygiene will boost calf performance, but feeding the right milk replacer formulation for your objectives and rearing situation can also help.

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IN L W LE VIA NO AB SE L O AI D AV D 5 N

1A

S

BE FIRST BE FAST

BOVILIS INTRANASAL RSP LIVE NO OTHER BRD VACCINE PROTECTS EARLIER OR FASTER ®

BRD in the first 8 weeks of life has been shown to give a 509 litre decrease in first lactation milk production.1 Help to protect your stock from BRD related production losses – vaccinate now.

Bovilis INtranasal RSP Live is part of the MSD Animal Health Respiratory Health Programme. Contact your vet for further information.

Reference: 1. Dunn T et al. (2018) The effect of lung consolidation, as determined by ultrasonography on first-lactation milk production in Holstein dairy calves, J. Dairy Sci., 101: 1-7. Bovilis® INtranasal RSP™ Live contains live BRSV and Pi3 POM-V. Bovilis® Bovipast® RSP contains inactivated BRSV (strain EV908), Pi3 virus (strain SF-4-Reisinger) and inactivated Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica (serotype A1) POM-V. Bovilis® IBR Marker Live contains live bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1), strain GK/D (gE¯)*: 105.7 - 107.3 TCID50**. *gE¯: glycoprotein E negative. **TCID50: tissue culture infective doses 50% POM-V. Bovilis® Huskvac contains viable Dictyocaulus viviparus 3rd stage irradiated larvae POM-V. Further information is available from the respective SPC, datasheet or package leaflets. MSD Animal Health UK Limited. Registered office Walton Manor, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 7AJ, UK. Registered in England & Wales no. 946942. Advice should be sought from the medicine prescriber. Use Medicines Responsibly. © 2020 MSD Animal Health UK Limited. All Rights Reserved. UK-BOV-200700010

3674-25 INtranasal_DAIRY_Cow Management_Full pg.indd 1 CM07_p29.indd 29

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YOUNG-STOCK SPECIAL LUNG SCANNING

What the eye can’t see ... A calf-side tool is helping producers to assess sub-clinical pneumonia levels in their herd and highlighting the need to take remedial action. We spoke to a vet who’s been using the technology to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

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ovine respiratory disease is the most common reason for poor performance and death in growing calves, according to MSD Animal Health’s Rob Simpson. And the results of a recent survey and trails with a calf-side tool to check for lung lesions reveal that many subclinical cases are going undetected. “Our survey showed that 75% of herd had seen cases of BRD during the past 12 months and 45% experienced calf mortality,” he says. Two thirds were affected before they were six weeks old: “This highlights the importance of adequate colostrum feeding and, in some cases, early-life vaccination to offer additional protection against BRD.” The company has been working closely with Kirkcudbright-based vet Jimmy More, who says that heifers that contract BRD – even sub-clinically – as young calves, will perform sub-optimally throughout their productive life. “Even sub-clinical cases, which didn’t require treatment, cause permanent lung damage that can result in poor growth rates, reduced age at first calving and reduced milk yield in the first lactation – and subsequent lactations.

sure, if I was a producer, if I’d bother to breed from heifers with lung lesions,” adds Mr More. “TUS is used routinely in the US when heifers are served. If significant lung lesions are seen, that heifer doesn’t enter the service group – they’re channelled into fattening. “US producers cut their losses at this point. They recognise the impact of BRD, and the lung damage it causes, on heifers’ potential lifetime productivity.” He says that producers are good at picking up clinical cases but sub-clinical signs are difficult, if not impossible, to spot. “And even if producers spot sub-

Sub-clinical damage “Lung lesions typically mean 540 fewer litres in the first and subsequent lactations, even if a heifer calves at 24 months old. BRD affects the heifer for her whole productive life and reduces her overall milk yield.” Mr Moore discovered this sub-clinical damage – or rather the prevalence of it in what otherwise appeared to be health and well-grown calves – by accident. As part of on-farm monitoring for some trial work, Mr More was routinely checking calves’ lungs – using thoracic ultrasound scanning (TUS). “These calves looked normal and were growing and behaving as expected. So I was surprised to discover that they had significant lesions on their lungs.” He says that good management often ‘masks’ the issue. “CMR feeding, more specifically the use of automatic milk feeders that facilitate high intakes, and some high energy concentrates will go some way to hide subclinical disease.” TUS is identifying this sub-clinical damage by revealing signs of lung lesions in what otherwise appear to be healthy animals. “This damage is a lifetime limitation on the performance of this animal and I’m not even

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Calf-side tool: Jimmy More carries out TUS on a young heifer

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clinical signs, the damage to the lungs has already been done. It’s too late. So it has to be about prevention.” Mr More has a checklist of areas that still require improvement on many units and he encourages producers to work through it methodically will ensure that every step is being taken to prevent disease. To ensure that heifers are on target to calve at 24 months old, or younger, Mr More says that they should be consuming at least 900g of CMR per day and gain 700g to 800g of DLWG a day. “I see too many herds where calves are underfed. This ‘nutritional stress’ compromises immunity to disease and also limits growth.” Hygiene could also be improved on many units. “If you won’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it in the calf’s.” Setting targets for growth and monitoring calves to ensure they are being met is also vital. “How else will you know if what you’re doing is working? If you know that everything is being done well and you’re off target, that can be the first sign of a sub-clinical disease issue.” His other bug bear is bedding. “I want to see calves bedded properly in deep straw that covers their legs, to allow nesting. This keeps them warm and protected from drafts.” And he adds that isolation pens for sick calves are essential. “These are massively underutilised in the dairy industry. If I visit a unit without any then that’s one of the first things they’re asked to sort out.” And that brings us to vaccination – the ‘belt and braces’ when it comes to disease prevention. “It’s not a silver

Jimmy More: “Vaccination is not a silver bullet. Management also has to be up to scratch” bullet and, if all other aspects of management and husbandry are not up to scratch, it may not work.” “But on many units it is the only way to really put a lid on BRD. Just saying ‘I don’t see any coughing calves or clinical cases’ isn’t enough. We know that because TUS reveals the true extent of sub-clinical disease and the lung damage in what otherwise appear to be ‘normal’ healthy heifers. Coughing calves really are just the tip of what can be a particularly devastating iceberg.” In a recent trial, involving six producers running different calf rearing systems of which some were better than others, all saw lung lesions. “They were all surprised by the results and could see the value in using TUS. They all said that they’d do it again and that it was value for money – particularly when the losses caused by subclinical BRD are taken into account.” Three of the six producers were already vaccinating young calves against BRD and said that they’d continue. And two of the other three have started an early-life vaccination policy. “The TUS trial was particularly eye-opening for them,” adds Mr More. TUS has been routine in the US and Canada for many years. But it’s relatively new in the UK. “Our Facebook page – Bovine Lung Ultrasound UK – has gathered 300 followers in just a year. And we’re teaching students in my practice. Vets have the tool and it’s easy to do.” “There’s low uptake among producers so far,” adds MSD Animal Health’s Kat Baxter-Smith. “But we’re seeing more interest from vets,” she adds.

Disease issues Mr More adds that vets will typically charge for TUS on an hourly basis. “I can scan 40 calves in an hour, so it’s quick and easy to build up a picture of any subclinical disease issues.” So, is it typical for a herd to have sub-clinical BRD issues and rarely, if ever, see a clinical case of BRD in calves? “It’s certainly possible. Even herds that routinely vaccinate against calf pneumonia could have an issue with sub-clinical disease. Vaccination is not substitute for poor management and it’s certainly not a panacea. “I won’t let clients vaccinate calves against pneumonia until they’ve ticked all the management and husbandry boxes. Then I know that vaccination will be effective and help producers to prevent disease and hit that magic daily live-weight gain of 800g, or even more.” “The often-quoted figure of 800g DLWG is not that easy to hit. And many producers, all other aspects of management are spot on, will hit it – or get close to it – once they introduce a vaccination programme,” says Mr More. l

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TAKE A MOMENT

TO REFLECT.

DON’T JUST FEED FOR GROWTH,

FEED FOR A

HEALTHIER FUTURE.

Volac’s Lifeguard range of milk replacers all contain Imunopro®, our unique concentrated milk protein, which enables better development of the early life immune system and stimulates the young calf’s digestive system, crucial for fast, healthy and sustainable growth. feedforgrowth.com

Volac International Limited, Volac House, Orwell, Royston, Hertfordshire, SG8 5QX, United Kingdom T +44 (0)1223 208 021 · enquire@volac.com · Copyright © 2020 Volac International Ltd. All rights reserved.

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YOUNG-STOCK SPECIAL INSPIRING PRODUCER

Name: Daphne King Location: County Armagh, Northern Ireland Calves reared per year: 100 Herd size: 100 cows

Cleanliness is king

Daphne King is a self-confessed stickler for detail. “Top of my list is cleanliness,” she says. “And it was top of my father’s list when feeding calves, more than 50 years ago, and that hasn’t changed – even if some of the management ideas and products have. “Those principles about good hygiene still hold true and there can be no excuses. It just takes time and dedication – not a huge investment in equipment.” Daphne has been rearing all the young calves on her family’s 100-cow dairy unit for more than 20 years. “It’s my job to ensure the health and welfare of the next generation of milkers – that’s quite a responsibility.”

Meticulous

Heifers leave her meticulous care at 12 weeks old and bulls move on at three weeks old, when they are sold to a private buyer. Working as a dedicated calf rearer means that she has the time and patience to ‘do things right’. “I’m not in a hurry – I don’t have to dash off to milk, or scrape up or feed the cows. I can make sure that the buckets and mixing utensils are clean, starter feed and water are fresh, bedding is dry, and that calves have fed properly.” Buckets are scrubbed after every feed, meticulously, with scalding hot water. “Just as my father use to do it,” she says. “And twice a week I’ll add detergent and bleach to the wash water to get the equipment extra clean.”

Health

Consistency is also important, so Daphne keeps to regular feeding times, providing milk that is the correct concentration and temperature. “They’re all little things, but they go a long way to avoiding digestive upsets and other nutritional and environmental stresses that can compromise the calf’s immune system and, subsequently, their health and growth rates.”

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YOUNG-STOCK SPECIAL ADDING VALUE

Beef up cross-bred calf returns

Beef-cross calves from dairy herds can attract a premium if breeding and sire registration and, more importantly, early-life care are right. But producers need to manage their expectations. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

A

s more producers move to using sexed semen, on their heifers and top-end cows, aiming to breed replacements from their highest genetic merit animals, many are also now using beef sires on the rest of the herd. But what can producers do to maximise the value of these beef-cross calves? The choice of beef breed is important, but there are other factors to consider, says West Sussex-based vet and beef producer Rob Drysdale. “The first is that many producers view these cross-bred calves as a money spinner – they can be anything but.

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Beef cross calves should have a higher value, in most instances, than a pure Holstein bull calf. But it’s important that producers don’t have unrealistic expectations when it comes to price. “Commanding the best price requires effort and investment and, even then, you’re still exposed to the vagaries of the market place – just as the people who buy the calves, finish and send them on to market are. “So there are no guarantees. But finding out what buyers want – in terms of breeding and rearing standards – and

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meeting those demands should result in a fair price for cross-bred calves.” Mr Drysdale says that Continental crosses are typically what the market is looking for. “And calves by named, single sires. Some semen companies sell mixed straws and with this can come variation in sire quality. Some cross-bred calves will be better than others. So use a named sire and register the name with BCMS – don’t just add the breed. This just requires a little more time – making a note of the beef sire used at insemination and then adding it to the calf’s registration.”

Register sires Looking to the future, registering the sire on the calf’s passport will allow collation of production information and improving evaluation of new beef bulls. AHDB has pushed hard for this, running recently the ‘Shout about the sire’ campaign, to highlight the benefits of registering sires on passports. Carcase trait Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available to help producers to select a bull that will sire a calf that will meet buyers’ needs. But this information can only be generated if producers add the ear tag number of the sire when registering a calf with BCMS. At the start of the ‘Shout about the sire’ campaign in 2019, the eight-year average was just 23% of sires being registered on passports. “This figure is now closer to 40%, says AHDB Beef & Lamb’s Alex Brown. “But there’s still more to do.” Mr Drysdale says that during the past 12 months just a third of the cross-bred beef calves he purchased on the open market had their sire registered on their passport. “Buyers would, typically, pay more for these calves. And then there’s the longer term benefit of helping to develop EBVs.” Data is key here – it has to be accurate and there has to be plenty of it. “So note down the name of the sire and put it on the passport. This will benefit your calf price and business’ bottom line – and the wider beef industry.” Sex also plays a role, with dairy-cross bull calves commanding a higher price than heifers. Some dairy farmers are taking the next step, using sexed semen to produce both dairy heifers and cross-bred beef bulls. “It’s well worth the investment because the disparity between bulls and heifers is becoming greater,” says Mr Drysdale, adding that the price difference can be £100, or more. A decent British Blue cross bull could see £250 at market, compared to between £120 for a heifer. A similar difference could be expected between Angus cross bull and heifer calves. That said, a beef-cross heifer is still, typically, worth more than a pure-bred dairy bull calf, although the gap has decreased recently. “Get some advice. Jersey cross calves are particularly tricky when it comes to beef sales. Speak to your semen company, but also integrated beef organisations like Buitelaar or the local buyers. Find out what the market wants, and needs, then weigh up your options. There’s certainly no ‘one size fits all’,” he says. “Taking that approach can lead to unrealistic expectations, followed by disappointment when it comes to calf prices. With beef price proving volatile during

Rob Drysdale: “Use a named sire and make sure it’s on the calf’s passport” the past two years, and retailer schemes for Angus or Hereford now offering less of a premium, the beef producers cannot afford to buy a 21-day old calf for what often looks like 25%, or more, of the finished price some 18 to 24 months later.” Looking beyond beef breed, passport information and sex, what else should producers focus on to maximise beef-cross calf value? “Good early calf care,” says Mr Drysdale. He buys two thirds of his calves from just two dairy units, which he knows follow strict protocols to ensure that calves get off to the best start. The remaining third – around 1,200 head a year – are bought through Wrexham-based livestock group Buitelaar, which has similar exacting standards when it comes to buying calves from producers.

Healthy calves “We’re looking for healthy, well-grown calves that have to be more than 50kg LW at a minimum of 14 days and maximum of 28 days old. Allowing for 35kg birth weight that’s a 0.8kg daily live weight gain since birth.” He takes between 25 and 50 each week from each farm and adds that he strives to keep antibiotic use to a minimum. “So I want these calves to have plenty of passive immunity from their dams’ colostrum and to come from units that are second to none in terms of calf rearing management and hygiene. “I know I’m going to get that from these two farms and we have a good relationship. And I’m also prepared to pay a decent price for these calves because I know I’m buying healthy, well-reared animals – I’m not buying in trouble that will lead to antibiotic use and costs.” He says that traceability – particularly with reference to the calves he sources from Buitelaar – means that he can also ‘avoid’ calves from units that he knows don’t hit the mark when it comes to early-life care and calf health. “We record all our health information from our rearing units, and compare treatments, live-weight gains and key weight for age data not just mortality, alongside lifetime production and health. “This lets me check back and see where problems animals have come from, and, if there’s a pattern, that’s a red flag for us. We already have dairy farms that we do not accept calves from, sometimes based on later life performance and not just calf health, even if they’re coming through Buitelaar.” Buitelaar has a similar policy re calf rearing protocols and standards, stipulating that producers who supply the company with calves meet their strict criteria. “Healthy, well-grown calves will attract a better price. And producers have the security of knowing that, providing they’re reared correctly, there’s a good and fair market for their calves.” l

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LifeStart science will change the way you feed your calves

Energized Calf Milk: a revolution in early life nutrition All the benefits of whole milk plus...

All the benefits of a calf milk replacer plus...

Eliminates contamination reducing the risk of AMR.

With an osmolality of 350 mOsm/kg, ECM is the closest to the 330 mOsm/kg in cow’s milk.

Consistency of manufacture ensures safe feeding every time.

There are 2.9 MJ of ME in 1 L mixed at 135 g/L.

Winner of the Award for Innovation.

Reformulated for elevated planes of nutrition.

For more details visit ruminants.lifestartscience.com

3700-14 LifeStart ECM ad_Cow Management_Full pg.indd 1 CM07_p36.indd 36

17/09/2020 11:51 14-10-20 14:51


ADVERTORIAL

New milk formula for stressed calves Ian Watson, Global Technical Manager from Volac says: “The new Imunogard® calf milk formula from Volac is more easily digested by calves under stress.”

Farmers struggling to manage persistent digestive disturbances amongst their calves now have access to a breakthrough new 100% dairy protein milk formula from Volac.

N

ew Imunogard® has been formulated specifically for under-performing stressed calves or to meet the unique needs of calf units wrestling with a stubborn scour problem that can’t be overcome by an improvement in environmental hygiene.

maximise the level of Imunopro® in this new product. This also increases the delivery of the functional whey proteins (such as imunoglobulins and lactoferrin contained within Imunopro®) to the calf, which gives it the best chance of fighting off a disease challenge,” he says.

Volac Global Technical Manager Ian Watson explains that the new 23% crude protein calf milk formula is all milk protein, which means it is more easily digested by calves under stress or those mounting an immune response.

He adds that the new product also contains a slightly higher fat content to allow for more energy to be metabolised for growth.

“The protein in Imunogard® is 100% dairy. By formulating to 100% dairy protein we can

formulas. For example, butyrate for its antiinflammatory effects and ability to stimulate gut enzyme production, and the garlic-derived ingredient Gardion – known too for its natural pathogen inhibiting effects and ability to enhance immune system function. The new calf milk formula should be mixed at the rate of 150g in every litre of water and be fed to calves according to Volac’s standard growth curve recommendations.

Additionally, Imunogard® incorporates the established hydrolysed yeast culture Celmanax™ from Church & Dwight to help improve calf gut function and mitigate the effect of a number of harmful pathogens.

Calf rearers, vets and nutritionists interested in new Imunogard® should speak to their local Volac Business Manager, or call Volac directly on freephone 0800 919808.

“Proven hydrolysed yeast cultures not only provide readily digestible refined functional carbohydrates for the calf; they also have a recognised prebiotic function. Put simply, the inclusion of Celmanax™ feeds the calf’s beneficial gut bacteria which has been shown to help bind them to damaging bugs, such as cryptosporidia, E.coli and Salmonella spp. This stops these harmful pathogens from binding to the gut wall and taking hold to explains Mr Watson.

1)

“For example, independent scientific trials have demonstrated that calves supplemented with Celmanax™ shed three times less cryptosporidium oocysts than those which were not, thus helping to reduce the spread of cryptosporidiosis. The Celmanax™ supplemented calves also had improved faecal and dehydration scores¹.”

Reference: Church & Dwight, J Anim Sci 2009 Vol. 8

Volac’s main processing plant in Felinfach, Wales uses British Milk to produce it’s performance formulated milk replacers.

Imunogard® also benefits from the inclusion of other beneficial health supplements, as standard in Volac’s Lifeguard range of calf milk

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YOUNG-STOCK SPECIAL NEW PRODUCTS

What’s new? We round up some of the latest products to help producers rear healthy, well-grown heifers and keep them on target to calve, for the first time, at 24 months old 1

Semi-transparent calf bucket

A semi-transparent, so the milk level can easily be seen from a distance, nine-litre bucket is now available from Dairy Spares. Originally designed for the European market, where hutch-rearing is extremely popular, the Milk Bar Euro bucket is supplied with its own bracket and can be fixed to either the inside or the outside of the pen. Additionally, and a practice favoured by European producers, the bucket can be fitted with a lid to keep out rain and prevent contamination. Like all Milk Bar products it comes with a Milk Bar teat, which ensures calves suckle and not guzzle. To make milk rationing easy, a litre scale is clearly marked on the outside of the bucket. The cost of the nine-litre bucket is £18 +VAT, and the lid is £4 +VAT. For more information on this and the extensive Milk Bar range, visit www.dairyspares.co.uk, along with details of stockists.

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2 Single-dose vaccine vials available

An early-life intranasal calf pneumonia vaccine is now available in single dose vials, giving users greater flexibility to vaccinate individual animals, as and when needed. MSD Animal Health’s Bovilis Intranasal RSP Live can be administered to calves from as young as a week of age and reduces the clinical signs of respiratory disease and viral shedding from infection with bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and parainfluenza-3 virus (Pi3V). “Having this early-life calf pneumonia vaccine available in single-dose vials will give producers more practical leeway to be able to vaccinate vulnerable calves from as young as a week of age, rather than delaying administration until a batch of calves is available,” says the company’s Kat Baxter-Smith. The single-dose vials are supplied in packs of five, complementing the five-dose vials already available. Producers interested in this new early-life calf pneumonia vaccine should contact their vet for further information.

3

Boost mineral supply

A bolus formulated to give calves optimum trace element supply from six weeks old has been launched by Agrimin. Agrimin 24.7 Smartrace Plus Calf is a sustainedrelease bolus that will provide a continuous supply of essential trace elements for 180 days. Formulated to meet National Research Council requirements, the bolus provides calves with a balanced supply of cobalt, iodine, selenium and copper – the trace elements most typically found to be in short supply. “Calves require an adequate and constant supply of essential trace elements to ensure optimal growth and organ development, and go on to meet production targets throughout their lifetime,” says the company’s Annie Williams. “Our unique eroding technology ensures that calves receive a consistent daily supply of key minerals, with a bolus providing minerals for 180 days.” The bolus is suitable for calves more than six weeks old, providing they are ruminating.

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cowmanagement OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

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Breeding for daughter fertility

14 days re in calving

FERTILITY

415

200 Mor on d ferti

410 405 400

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14-10-20 07:49

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HEALTH

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FERTILITY HOOF HEALTH

UDDERFER HE

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CRV has a unique registration of conception results. FEED EFFICIENCY

2009

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FORFARMERS FOCUS

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Plan now to meet crop challenges

AMS data drives performance Producers with automatic milking systems may be able to achieve extra litres, according to evaluations by ForFarmers. The company’s on-farm automatic milking system (AMS) specialists are seeing opportunities to improve performance on many units, with the help of an AMS audit. ForFarmers’ specialists are working with a substantial number of AMS units and are able to benchmark performance against not only targets, but also some of the best operators in the UK. “AMS farms have a lot of data and this provides many pieces of the puzzle to establish how performance can be improved,” says ForFarmers’ James Hague. “Benchmarking is the first step and, from this, we can calculate the value to the farm of any changes required.” Rest feed rate is one such indicator that often signals that change is needed. A value above 5% indicates that cows do not have enough time to eat their allocated compound offering. But, as with all averages, this masks the variances of the individual cows in the herd. This is where the specialist will use the individual-cow data to optimise the system, to ensure that each cow receives the correct nutrition. While automatic systems provide a high level of performance data, they will not

provide all the data needed for producers to get the best from their cows. But information obtained through ForFarmers Insight and Visiolac reports can provide a wider range of diagnostic data – including, fertility, rumen function, ration efficiency and fatty acid analysis – that will help to assess the overall success of a diet. This feedback can’t be obtained directly from robots. “The Visiolac reports utilise data from the bulk-tank component and fatty acid data through NML. We use this data to interpret what is happening within the rumen and the udder,” says Mr Hague. “More in-depth analysis of individual cow data, where herds are herd recording with NMR, can highlight opportunities within the herd, as well as individual-cow nutrition.” As well as developing a specific range of AMS compatible concentrate feeds, ForFarmers has established an AMS Special Interest Group on dairy costings and has a range of specialist resources to help producers optimise the performance of cows in an automated milking system. To get more information about this range of AMS specific feeds, or to speak to one of our AMS specialist, please call: 0330 678 0982

Environmental factors – terrain, climate, soil properties and soil water – all influence crop yield and quality and determine which crops can be grown in certain areas. Climate change, which means more weather extremes from wet conditions in the winter and early spring through to drought in the summer, is proving to be a challenge for producers. They are faced with selecting crops that will maximise the production and quality of home-grown forage while, at the same time, selecting the correct crop for their soil and the changing climate. Maize stubble is a major cause for concern, so utilising early maize varieties and land that is more free draining, or at less risk of being wet at harvest, will allow for a follow-on crop to be sown in the late autumn. Future plantings need to reviewed and planned early to maximise all opportunities while also considering the benefits and effect on the environment. The previous crop performance is a key area to review. Consider establishment levels and weed control issues, as well as yields. Undertaking soil testing now and rectifying any problem areas will benefit the followon crop while also minimising soil erosion. Looking at alternative crops is an option. In dry conditions it could be work considering the suitability of lucerne or clover as an alternative protein source. ForFarmers can support producers in reviewing crop plans while, at the same time, ensuring that productivity, quality and environmental effects are considered.

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ENERGY EFFICIENCY SAVING ELECTRICITY

Energy saving ideas help reduce costs

Milk cooling and water heating can account for a significant chunk of a dairy business’ energy bill. So how can producers make savings? We spoke to two experts to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

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hat are the big wins when it comes to saving on electricity costs? Milking, which includes running the parlour, cooling milk, and heating water, is the main energy consumer on dairy units. But the first – and least-cost – option to consider when looking to reduce the electricity bill is to check the energy tariff. So says Dairy Spares’ Simon Marsh, who says that while some producers have invested in ground source heat pumps and solar panels, mains grid electricity is the source of power for most. “But when was the last time you reviewed your electricity tariff ? Many haven’t done for a while and they should take some time to shop around for a good deal, and take advantage of lower cost off-peak rates. If milking times can be shifted to capitalise on these, then further savings are possible,” he says. NFU Energy’s Jon Swain agrees that this is an ‘easy, lowrisk win’: “Because it doesn’t require capital outlay – just a little time and thought. It’s key to match your tariff to take advantage of lower cost electricity when your demand is greatest. Or manipulate water heating or ice

Simon Marsh: “When was the last time you reviewed your energy tariff ?” 44

building to match when tariff costs are lowest, such as Economy 7. These are wins that just require planning.” He adds that it may also be worth considering joining an electricity buying group. “Switching tariffs as an individual business has less impact on reducing costs than it used to. But there are still considerable gains to be had through purchasing energy as a group.” The NFU has several groups, allowing producers to match their contract-end dates with joining. “We’d never advocate buying yourself out of a contract. That rarely, if ever, makes financial sense. But if yours is nearing its end, shop around and see if you can get a better deal.”

Big wins Aside from seeking a more favourable electricity tariff, there are three other areas that offer ‘big wins’ for producers and each one accounts for between 25% and 30% of electricity usage in the milking parlour: vacuum pumps, water heating and milk cooling. Electricity usage can be cut in the parlour by retro-fitting a variable speed drive (VSD) onto the vacuum pump, according to Mr Marsh. “The VSD alters the frequency of electricity and, therefore, the speed of the motor driving the pump so that it matches the demand for vacuum. “This means that the vacuum is only operating at full capacity when required and this can cut energy costs by between 40% and 50%,” he explains. “It also extends the life of the pump as there is less wear and tear and less oil is used, as the pump is not always running at full speed.” Mr Swain agrees that some systems can offer energy use reductions of up to 50%. “Much depends on the efficiency

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of the system before the VSD is fitted. Less efficient parlours and herd’s with longer milking times tend to see the biggest initial improvements and energy savings. And they’re also likely to recoup their investment – of between £3,000 and £5,000 – more quickly.” Because VSDs improve the efficiency of the parlour and reduce energy usage, they may be eligible for grant-funding through, for example, the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Schemes in England. A VSD suitable for a vacuum pump with a 4kW motor retails at around £1,500, according to Mr Marsh. “But if auto ID is used in the herd, then care is needed to choose an appropriate model of VSD – one that will not interfere with the ID software. These are slightly more expensive, and the payback time is at least a couple of years, depending on how long the milking operation takes.”

Heating water Heating water is another big energy consumer. British Standards stipulate a minimum of 18 litres of hot water are to be used per milking point for the plant wash. “So the size of the main water heater should correspond to the number of milking points in the parlour. If the tank is too large, then more water than is required is being heated, which is clearly inefficient,” says Mr Marsh. “If the tank is too small, additional heating on expensive peak rate electricity is needed to top up the system.” Units that are on an Economy 7-type tariff and accessing cheap off-peak electricity can take advantage by having a water heater that holds enough for all of the day’s milkings. Overnight heating provides hot water for the morning milking and, if a time clock is used to control the flow so that the tank only refills at the end of the day, the remaining water only needs a small amount of electricity to re-heat for the afternoon’s milking. “Producers should check that the time clock on the heater is set correctly so that the water is heated up as its required. And also check that it does not overheat. This not only wastes electricity, but may also render the cleaning chemicals less effective.”

Jon Swain: “There are big wins to be had between water heating and milk cooling” Installing a heat recovery unit (HRU) is another way to save electricity when heating water. Mr Swain says that synergy between water heating and milk cooling is another area where ‘big wins’ can be made. HRUs transfer ‘waste’ heat from the refrigerant of the milk cooling system. This pre-heats the water before it enters the dairy water heater, where the temperature is then ‘topped up’ using the existing immersion heater. “Producers should also consider installing an automatic plant washer, which controls the length of time of each stage of the wash cycle and frees up the operator to do other jobs, to help save energy,” adds Mr Marsh. “This prevents the hot wash from running for too long.” Plate coolers also help to reduce energy waste. The lower the temperature of milk when it enters the bulk tank, the less energy will be needed to cool it. Most dairies now have a plate cooler. “The efficiency of the plate cooler can be significantly improved by replacing the single speed drive on the milk pump with a VSD. The VSD ensures a slow and constant throughput of milk to the plate cooler, improving efficiency,” explains Mr Marsh, adding that VSDs for milk pumps retail at between £900 and £1,500. A simple point that many producers also overlook is when they switch on their parlour. The lower the running time, the less electricity is used. “Don’t turn the parlour on and use its noise as the incentive to get cows moving towards the gate,” says Mr Marsh. “They’ll hear the parlour fire up and it’ll act as a signal when you want to begin milking – there’s no need to have it running before then.” l

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BREEDING INFORMATION

Register for grazing genetics webinar

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CRV Avoncroft is hosting a series of webinars. The next one focuses on New Zealand grazing genetics and will take place on Monday November 9 at 7.30 pm. The first one, on breeding for health and efficiency, took place in early October. CRV breeding sales advisor Ian Stavert shared the secret of high lifetime production in the Netherlands with viewers. He explained how producers can use CRV’s Efficiency scores to help achieve higher margins and also talked about the benefits of CRV’s Health index. Breeding for health and efficiency is potentially more profitable for every producer. If you’d like to join in, go to www. crvavoncroft.com/register-webinar

Two-week reduction in calving interval through breeding Breeding for daughter fertility has helped Dutch producers to reduce the average calving interval by 14 days. In 2007 the average calving interval for heifers in the Netherlands was at its highest ever level, at 413 days. CRV decided to put more emphasis on fertility in the national breeding index (NVI). And, since then, calving interval has gradually

improved. By 2012 the average calving interval had fallen to 404 days and in 2018 Dutch heifers realised a calving interval of 398 days. CRV offers several sires with high fertility, such as Delta Nippon P (109), Velder Starmaker (108), Delta Rosebud (108), and Delta Bouncer (106).

For more information on products and services of CRV Avoncroft: phone: 01562 861582 www.crvavoncroft.com www.facebook.com/CRVAvoncroft/

Lifetime production hits record level The average lifetime production of Dutch dairy cows, for the 2019/2020 financial year leapt to 34,000kg – an increase of almost 2,500kg of milk and 200kg of fat and protein, compared to the previous year. With 1,481kg of fat and 1,210kg of protein, the lifetime production of Dutch cows has never been so high. These latest figures have been revealed by CRV’s annual milk recording statistics. And a combination of a longer productive life (+75 days) and higher milk production (+0.2kg of milk per day) is behind the increase in lifetime production. Almost all breeds showed increased production this year. Milk production from

black-and-white Holsteins rose from 10,522kg to 10,688kg of milk, at 4.34% fat and 3.56% protein in 358 days of production. Compared to black-and-white Holsteins, red-and-white Holsteins produced fewer kilogrammes of milk, on average, but with higher components. And there was still an increase in milk yield, to 9,838kg of milk at 4.54% fat and 3.67% protein. The size of milk recording herds has also increased this year, from an average of 99 cows to 104 cows. The number of productive days increased by 75 days to 1,183. This means that the average number of calvings has risen to 3.6 calvings per cow. The calving interval has remained stable at 407 days.

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FEEDING BESPOKE RATIONS

Rich pickings from

the right nutrition One Hertfordshire-based family has expanded its Jersey herd, with a focus on exceptional nutrition management, good genetics, and creating new sources of revenue at the farm gate. TEXT KENDRA HALL

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nown for their rich, creamy milk, Jerseys are also valued particularly for their ability to efficiently produce high quality milk from forage. But, due to their smaller size and physiology, these cows require a specialist approach to feeding and herd management to reach and maintain peak performance.

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Producers Barry and Jenny Daw know this from their own experience. They founded the Bluegrass herd of pedigree Jerseys in 1987. Today they are milking 120 cows, plus 130 replacements, at Amwell Place Farm, near Hertford. The herd averages 6,800 litre, at 5.50% fat and 3.85% protein, and milk is sold to Rivermead Dairy, which distributes milk around the country to specialist producers of cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

Top-quality milk The Daws have prioritised breeding from the maternal family lines, with some of their cows descended directly from a herd that was started by Jenny’s parents in 1947. “Our aim is to breed cows with a good frame, strong and straight legs, and well-proportioned udders,” says Jenny. “This gives them longevity in the milking herd and allows them to produce top-quality milk, efficiently,

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within our system. Our cows average between five and six lactations, but our oldest cow is about to calve for the thirteenth time.” In 2013, the couple’s daughter Claire came home to join the family business. A short time later she started to make ice-cream from the herd’s high constituent milk and ‘Dawlicious Dairy’ was born. Claire began by supplying a few local restaurants and shops and now sells directly to the public, from a small shed located at the farm entrance. To date, she has created more than 62 flavours of ice cream and has expanded the business to include two raw milk vending machines and fresh eggs, selling more than 1,000 litres of milk per week. “Selling from the farm is the best decision we ever made,” says Claire. “It has allowed us to build a strong relationship with the public and we’ve evolved into a bit of a community hub. Our customers from the city enjoy coming out here for some fresh air and seeing the animals, and they thank us for the work we do because they can see where the produce they’re buying comes from.”

Simple approach Expanding the business, primarily through word of mouth, has seen Dawlicious Dairy continue to grow throughout lockdown. “Despite the lack of demand from the hospitality sector, we have never been busier and have had increased interest from the public.” The Daw family aim to keep their feeding and management systems as simple as they can, prioritising cow health and welfare. “We want to graze our herd as much as possible,” explains Barry. “Unfortunately, our land is not good for growing grass – by May we can be completely dry. But we believe the cows need to go out as much as possible, so we work around this through producing good quality forage and careful feeding.” Cows are turned out anytime from mid-March, depending on the weather, and within a few weeks they are out day and night with access to a buffer feed throughout the summer. This comprises both grass and maize

silage with moist feed and 1kg of a bespoke blend from ForFarmers, adjusted for the quality of grazing that’s available. From August, the cows are fed a winter ration containing grass and maize silage, up to 3kg of ForFarmers blend, and brewers’ grains or fodder beet. “We work closely with ForFarmers’ nutritionist Alison Ewing and account manager Julian Mills to ensure that our cows are being fed exactly what they need throughout the year,” says Barry. “We make small tweaks to the diet as required. Their knowledge of Jerseys’ specific needs has been invaluable to us.” Alison adds that, when feeding Jerseys, is it vital to be realistic in terms of dry matter intake (DMI) expectations. “These will be relatively low compared to other breeds and, as such, the ration will need to be more nutrient dense,” she explains. “The high milk butterfat concentration also means that they require higher levels of milk fat pre-cursors in their diet. So it is crucial to have a balanced ration with sufficient effective fibre to encourage fibre digestion.” The Bluegrass herd has high dry matter intakes for the breed, with a forage DMI of up to 12 kg/head/day and a total DMI of 20kg/head/day. This fuels high performance and is indicative of their genetics and the exceptional care the cows receive.

Access points The farm also has a number of feed access points, with concentrate fed both through the parlour and via outof-parlour feeders. This supports the Jersey breed’s natural instinct to eat more evenly throughout the day, in contrast to Holsteins, which tend to eat fewer but larger meals. “We have stayed loyal to ForFarmers for so long because the quality of feed – and the support and advice that comes with it – is always good,” adds Barry. “The company also makes a blend that’s suited to our herd’s specific needs. And, most importantly, the cows respond well.” l

Bespoke ration: the herd’s diet is formulated to meet the specific nutritional requirements of the Daw’s Jersey herd

Family affair: Claire, Barry and Jenny Daw with one of their pedigree Jerseys

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DAIRY MANAGEMENT NEWS

Cull filter helps make the right choices It’s an obvious choice – deciding which cows to cull. But is it? And is the right choice being made each time? NMR trainer Cath Smith says there are good tools in NMR’s dairy management system InterHerd+, which can confirm or correct the decisions on farm. Hosting a recent webinar on cull cow recording, Mrs Smith encouraged producers and advisers using InterHerd+ to use the points system on the culling report, allocating a score for key criteria such as milk production, lameness, pregnancy rate and disease. “Then set a benchmark and cows with the highest scores make up the potential cull list. Possible culls can be weak in more than one area; giving points for the main criteria takes this into account. Moving them into one culling report allows further scrutiny before final decisions are made.” She also advocates using the culling history log for pinpointing issues and making improvements to the herd. This history is kept up to date on InterHerd+, with details of the main reasons – one or two – for culling, and the date. “It’s good to reflect on which cows left the herd for what reason and see

if there are any areas that keep cropping up.” It’s beneficial to dig deeper here too by using the ‘cross tabulate’ function, which is literally asking the computer to show a table of number of cows culled by reason and month. “So it could show you, for example, that in 2019 five cows were culled in March for lameness, or eight cows left the herd for high cell counts or mastitis in October,” adds Mrs Smith. “While there may be an easy explanation, this detail can drill down on areas that require some attention.” And to cast an eye on the herd’s performance against the NMR national benchmark, it’s well worth looking at the KPI reports on InterHerd+ and see how cull rates run compared with other herds in the NMR 500-herd sample. “InterHerd+ is used by producers, advisers and vets and carries a monthly support fee. But it does provide a new tier of detail that not only highlights the cows for culling but also identifies possible pitfalls that can be improved going forward.” Further details and an InterHerd+ demo are available from NMR Software Support on 03330 043 043.

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Tags for all All producers can take advantage of Nordic Star’s virtual show tag offer this year, regardless of whether they would have been show-goers. All orders placed with Nordic Star on the (proposed) show date this autumn qualify for the 10% discount. The dates are: November 18 (AgriScot) and December 10 (Winter Fair, Lisburn). For the 10% discount on all tags, use the offer code Shows 2020 on the Nordic Star website or with telephone orders to 0800 731 9465.

GeneTracker dates The next genomic sample submission and results publication date on Herd Companion (or on Search Point) are: November 19, published January 5, 2021 (January 6).

Hot off the press 2021 diary NMR’s Herd Management Diary 2021 is now available from field managers or NMR Customer Services on 03330 043 043 or customerservices@nmrp. com. The cost is £30.50 plus VAT, including postage.

NMR/LIC link boosts analysis tool The New Zealand cattle breeding company LIC has collaborated with NMR to enable milk recording data to be transferred automatically to the LIC herd improvement tool. This data link can be extended to include data entry through the dairy management software, Uniform, using the automated data link with NMR. The data transfer includes calving, service and drying off information. LIC’s herd improvement tool enables the company’s consultants, and its farm solutions

managers, to upload NMR’s recording data and use it in analyses for breeding and culling decisions on farm. “This is a seamless process and avoids duplicating data entry,” says LIC’s Mark Ryder. “Producers who record with NMR and want to take advantage of our herd improvement tool can be assured of having the most current cow performance data in the system, which will improve decision making going forward.”

For more information about NMR products and services contact customer services: 03330 043 043, email: customerservices@nmrp.com www.nmr.co.uk

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HERD HEALTH PREVENTING BRD

Early intervention offers maximum cover When it comes to preventing bovine respiratory disease, one Devon-based unit has all the bases covered. We spoke to the producer and his vet to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

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old standard, belt-and-braces – however you label the approach taken by Devon-based producer Tom Dibble, it’s ensuring that the next generation of milkers at his 900-cow unit get off to the best possible start. With such a large herd to manage, including 650 followers at any one time, it’s little wonder that Tom and his vet, Rob Mangham, have taken an approach that leaves nothing to chance, as far as calf pneumonia is concerned. “We’re calving all year round, milking three times a day, and selling 12 million litres of milk a year,” explains Tom, who manages his herd of predominantly Holstein cows at Bycott Farm, near Exeter. “It’s busy all the time and so it’s important that we run the herd as smoothly as possible. Preventing disease – and the costs and labour associated with that – is key here.” Vet Rob, from Wellington-based Mount Vets, agrees and works closely with Tom and the herd. “The beltand-braces approach that we take with calf vaccination protocols is about protecting Tom’s investment in – and the future of – the herd.” Key to that is protecting calves from disease and this starts early, with dams vaccinated against calf scour. This offers passive immunity against some enteric infections, such as rotavirus – a major cause of diarrhoea in calves. Dams are vaccinated with a combined vaccine against coronavirus, rotavirus and E coli. “We then follow a strict colostrum feeding protocol, to ensure that the calves receive enough immunoglobulins to support their immunity from other diseases in the environment,” says Tom.

Rob Mangham: “Using an intranasal vaccine in the first instance is vital to the success of this approach” 52

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Cows are calved in dedicated pens, away from the rest of the herd, so dam and calf get the time and attention that they need at this critical time. “And we’ll feed colostrum, initially at least four litres from the dam to ensure that they really do ‘max out’ on those allimportant immunoglobulins.” Tom, who runs the unit in partnership with his parents Steve and Ali, has been using sexed semen on all maiden heifers and the top 15% of the herd since July, so protecting this additional investment in the next generation has become all the more important. “Why go to the trouble of making sure we streamline our system, by selecting only the best cows and heifers to breed replacements, if we’re going to let disease limit their growth and genetic potential?” While vaccination isn’t a silver bullet, he says their approach is certainly working. “Our unit has its limitations, just like any other. Our buildings, for example, are less than perfect. We’ve expanded the herd from just 140 cows 15 years ago, and this has put the unit’s facilities under some pressure.

Next step Calves are then housed in hutches until they’re at least eight weeks old and then housed in groups, according to age. “We work hard to maintain good ventilation, particularly when calves are housed in groups, and to keep calf housing clean, dry and draft free. Hygiene, particularly around feeding, is top notch and we also have robust colostrum feeding protocols in place. “Vaccination was the next step for us, in a bid to prevent disease and keep our calf health on track to calve heifers at between 22 and 23 months old,” explains Tom. All calves are vaccinated, intranasally, with Bovalto Intranasal, at between 10 and 17 days (Tom vaccinates in batches once a week) to make sure that they are protected against the main respiratory viruses – RSV and PI3 – for a full 12 weeks. This is then followed up with two subcutaneous booster vaccinations with Bovalto 3, three weeks apart at three months old, that protect the calf from PI3 and RSV for a further six months, from three weeks after the second vaccine, until she’s nine months old. This vaccination programme also provides protection against bacterial pneumonia caused by Mannheimia haemolytica. “Tom typically administers the first shot when he groups the calves for weaning at between eight and 12 weeks old. And follows this up three weeks later,” explains Rob. Using an intranasal vaccine in the first instance is vital to the success of this approach, because it means the vaccine stimulates an effective and fast acting immune response and also is not affected by maternally derived antibodies (MDA). If a vaccine was administered by injection, rather than intranasally, in other words systemically, then the antibodies from the dam’s colostrum already in the calves bloodstream could, essentially, ‘clash’. “The intranasal vaccine mimics the real virus by arriving through the mouth and nose. It offers fast acting and local protection, acting as a firewall to stop the wild virus, and isn’t affected by MDA,” says Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s Ailsa Milnes. “Administering an intranasal vaccine, priming the mucosal immune system, means that it acts as a ‘sentry’, guarding the calf from additional disease challenge. It

Tom Dibble: “Vaccination was the next step for us, in a bid to prevent disease and keep our calf health on track” provides a first line of defence, with back up from the antibodies that are already in the calf’s bloodstream from its dam’s colostrum. “And when a subcutaneous vaccination is administered, when the calf is three months old, there’s more rapid production of antibodies in the calf’s bloodstream due to the initial exposure of the immune system to the intranasal vaccine. We’re essentially covering multiple aspects of the immune system and at the most optimal times,” adds Dr Milnes. “I then follow up with the second shot of the subcutaneous vaccine. Once the calves are weaned and the forage intakes really start to take off – at about 16 weeks – they’re much stronger than they were prior to introducing the vaccination protocol and I feel like we’re out of the woods, when it comes to respiratory disease,” says Tom. “If I’m going to serve heifers at 13 or 14 months and calve them for the first time at between 22 and 23 months old, I want to avoid disease and the associated growth checks. “By 15 or 16 weeks old, we’ve already invested a considerable amount into the heifers and worked hard to protect them from disease and achieve good growth rates. Typical pre-weaned daily growth rates are between 1.1 and 1.2kg LW for pre-weaned calves, post weaning growth rates rise to 1.2 to 1.3kg LW. “Why would I jeopardise that when I can protect them from respiratory diseases for another six months? “In my experience, if a heifer sees the needle for pneumonia treatment then her age at first service goes up to 15 months. Ideally, I want to see them bulling and served at 13 months. And I go on size – I want them to be around 52 inches – about 1.3 metres – at withers height at first service.”

Vaccination protocols Tom knows at 12 months old that his heifers have grown and developed sufficiently to successfully calve at 22 to 23 months of age. And that calving them at this age offers other benefits, including higher milk yields in their first and second lactation and also a longer and more productive life in the herd. “At five months old, Tom’s heifers are easily able to digest forage – they transition well from their ‘monogastric’ status because they’re well grown and there’s been no disease challenge,” says Rob. This is testament to the success of the herd’s approach to calf rearing. “There are no ‘open doors’ for disease to get in and check growth, compromise welfare and push up rearing costs,” adds Tom. “Our vaccination protocols are extremely thorough – some might say too thorough. But looking at the health status of our calves and our replacement rearing success, coupled with the peace of mind that comes with vaccinating to prevent disease, I’d say that it’s money well spent.” l

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BREEDING DUTCH GENETICS

Dutch cows suit

new-entrant’s system

A relative new entrant to dairying is already milking a top-notch herd of productive, healthy and fertile cattle. And most of them were imported, as heifers, from the Netherlands. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

D Nigel plans to continue breeding with Dutch bloodlines

utch genetics have helped Cheshire-based producer Nigel Harper to establish a sizeable, efficient, healthy and productive dairy herd in just three years. Today he’s running 280 cows, plus 75 followers, on his 130-hectare tenanted farm, near Sandbach, as well as a significant contract machinery business. The latter covers more than 6,800 hectares, within a 10-mile radius of the farm, and its size goes some way to explaining why running a herd of troublefree cows is key to his success. “The contractor business is 10 years old and the dairy, although it’s just as important, has to fit around that. Having a uniform herd of healthy and robust cows certainly helps,” he says. Nigel made the decision to go into dairying when a contractor customer decided to cease milk production.

Bijschrift

Nigel Harper: “I had my own ‘ideal’ milking cow in mind” “I’d always wanted to run a dairy herd and taking on the farm tenancy was an opportunity not to be missed. “He was retiring and had installed a GEA 20:40 swingover parlour in 2014 and all the other facilities were in good condition,” says Nigel, adding that he also had support from his stepfather John and father Simon who both have a wealth of dairying experience. “The cows – all 130 – were sold in a dispersal sale, but that suited me as they weren’t quite what I wanted to milk. I had my own ‘ideal’ milking cow in mind and I also wanted to calve in an autumn block, again to fit in around the contracting business. His was an all-yearround calving herd. So it was best to start from scratch.”

Robust cattle And that’s what Nigel did, beginning with 100 commercial in-calf cows and heifers, bought from his father-in-law Colin Wildman, who’s herd is based just up the road near Middlewich. “I knew I wanted robust cattle with medium stature – nothing too extreme. Cows that can look after themselves, milk well, and calve and get back in calf easily. Fertility was and is definitely top of the list. Colin’s cows ticked all those boxes and then the search was on to source more. By the end 2017 he was milking 130 head, 2018 numbers were up to 180 and by 2019 Nigel’s herd comprised 280 cows, averaging more than 11,000 litres, at 4.2% butterfat and 3.65% protein with an SCC of 87,000 cells/ml. Milk is sold to Manchesterbased Creamline Dairies. Most of the additional milkers were imported from the Netherlands as in-calf heifers. “There are a few homebred replacement heifers now in milk, but not many,” says Nigel, adding that it’s now a closed herd.

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He imported cattle because he said it was better value for money. “By looking across the North Sea, we could buy in quantity and quality – at a good price. Sourcing the numbers we needed, all calving in autumn, was proving tricky in the UK. And I also like the Dutch breeding. They really are trouble-free cows – they offer good health, fertility, productivity and longevity. The Dutch are also bTB free, which is another huge bonus – I knew I wouldn’t be buying in a whole load of trouble.” That said, he did test for bTB, just to be sure. And the cattle were also screened for IBR (vaccination), BVD, and Johne’s disease. “They were also quarantined for two weeks when they arrived – just to double check – before mixing with the rest of the herd.”

Dutch sires offer efficiency CRV sires offering exceptional production and fertility – ideal for Nigel’s breeding strategy: • Delta Podcast – an outcross sire offering the complete package with exceptional hoof health (107) • Delta Fisherman – a top health sire (+5%), with high milk and component and calving ease • Delta Jacuzzi Red – phenomenal production transmitter, unrivalled for efficiency (+20%), superb udders (107) and feet and legs (104) • Anreli Red – fertile daughters with high milk components (+0.20% fat and +0.12% protein) • Delta Bouncer – udder specialist (109) with high fertility (106)

A uniform bunch Most of the heifers came from the Deventer region, a key dairying area in the Netherlands, and are daughters of CRV sires. “We typically bought them in groups of 50, from a mix of seven different farms, and they came by ferry.” He admits he had some help from his father Simon Harper here. He’s got almost a decade of experience of importing cattle and made the process easier for Nigel. “He’s good at picking them out. I did go over a couple of times, but I mostly left it to dad. He’s an eye for a good heifer.” Nigel is pleased when he surveys the herd today – both physically and on paper. “They’re a uniform bunch and they look balanced. They’re the cows I always imagined and wanted to milk. “And they’re performing well too. I’m pleased with the calving pattern – the block starts in late July and finishes in October. Health issues are minimal and there’s plenty of milk in the tank.” Nigel plans to continue breeding with Dutch bloodlines, to maintain the type and production traits that are doing well. With help from herd manager Ben Smith, the herd is averaging 2.3 services per conception. “Our calving interval has slipped a little, as we’ve added more cows and yields have increased. But we’re improving that with help from our breeding contractor,” says Nigel.

milk is there and our role is to make sure we manage the cows so they can achieve this.” He adds that their cow housing is good, but they’ve recently altered passageways and added automatic scrapers. “Key for us is foot trimming. We’ve upped it to three times a year for every cow; at 100 days in milk, 200 days in milk and at drying off.” He says that this regular preventative trimming keeps cows’ legs and feet in good shape. “We’re still a relatively young dairy herd and we’re finding out feet, so we don’t want to run before we can walk. Our focus is still on health – particularly feet – as well as feeding and other environmental factors, such as housing. “These are the ‘controllables’ and the things that are vital to the cow’s health and ability to milk well. Our Dutch cows have certainly helped the business to forge ahead.” l

Nigel is pleased when he surveys the herd today – both physically and on paper

Good milk and fertility In 2017 the herd average was 8,800 litres, in 2018 it was 9,500 and it’s now more than 11,000 and still rising, as the herd is maturing. His next focus is on upgrading the facility – for expansion reasons. “We could go to 500 milkers, but slurry handling would be an issue. But with followers now going off to a separate rearing unit, at 45 days old, we could push cow numbers up by another 150. That’s the number of spaces were adding in the new cubicle shed that we’re going to erect along one side of the milking parlour.” Herd expansion will be organic – by adding home-bred heifers. And he’ll also be buying in more Dutch heifers. Nigel is using sexed semen on heifers and some conventional semen on milkers. “When choosing sires I’m looking for balance. So good milk and fertility – those are at the top of my list. We’re milking twice a day at the moment and we’re considering pushing up to three times. The potential to

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ADVERTISERS’ INDEX AB Agri Alta Berry’s Agriculture Boehringer Ingelheim Concept Cowhouse Ltd CosyCalf CRV Avoncroft Ltd/CRV Dairy Spares DP Agri Farmplus FCG Accounting Ltd ForFarmers/Thompsons Heuven Livestock Intershape Lallemand Limagrain MSD Animal Health Nedap NWF Agriculture NMR Quill Productions Trouw Nutrition VDK products Volac Zinpro

17 18 12 60 54 42 11, 40, 41 22 12, 39 22 22 59 39 54 24 7 29 4 50 2, 55 54 12, 36, 39 50 28, 32, 37 46

SHOWS AND EVENTS 2020

November 11

2021

January 7 January 26 February 3

British Mastitis Conference (virtual)

The Oxford Farming Conference (virtual) British Cattle Conference (virtual) Dairy-Tech, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire

COMING UP

DECEMBER COW HEALTH December 4 – In the final issue of 2020 we take a closer look at cow health, announce the three lucky winners of Roger Evans’ new book and, as always, hear from the man himself.

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: rachael@reporterjournalism.co.uk Editing, design and production CRV Publishing Contributing writers Emily Ball, Roger Evans, Kendra Hall, 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: cm.office@crv4all.com CowManagement online Facebook: www.facebook.com/CowManagementUK/ Twitter: @cowmanagement Website: www.cowmanagement.co.uk

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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: customerservices@nmrp.com www.isubscribe.co.uk Advertisements Jannet Fokkert, Froukje Visser, Hilda van der Wal P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem, The Netherlands, E-mail: hilda.van.der.wal@crv4all.com

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, Mark Pasveer (8-10, 43 NI, 47), David Scott (13), AHDB Dairy (20-21), Jemma McHugh (33), Eric Elbers (34), Els Korsten (47 NI) and Ruth Downing (56-57).

cowmanagement OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2020

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The unique feed to improve production, health and fertility. The benefits of omega 3 all year round. Lintec is a specific variety of linseed, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, that has been specially processed to produce a unique feed for dairy cows. It is a sustainable high quality feed, suitable for all dairy production systems. For more information contact your local account manager or call: 0330 678 0982 info.uk@forfarmers.eu www.forfarmers.co.uk

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high energy high oil content (Omega-3) high digestibility high protein

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A LITTLE

BOOST

MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE

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The sequential use of identical PI3 and RSV antigens in live and killed presentations, called a PRIME-BOOST effect, can optimise the immune response to two of the key viral pathogens associated with bovine respiratory disease (BRD). To learn more, and to receive one of 500 Power Packs*, courtesy of Bovalto® Boost, go to: bit.ly/bovalto-boost

BRD PROTECTION DELIVERING A TO YOU AND YOUR HERD

BOVALTO® is the ONLY BRD vaccine range with: Proven efficacy against recently circulating strains1 A duration of immunity proven by challenge: 12 weeks for BOVALTO Respi Intranasal2 6 months for BOVALTO Respi injectables1

Intranasal efficacy against BRSV and PI3 unaffected by MDAs, providing the optimal start to immune protection against BRD2 A PRIME-BOOST capability, using identical RSV and PI3 components, designed and developed with inspiration from the latest advances in human and animal medicine3,4

References: 1. Philippe-Reversat et al. (2017) Acta Vet BRNO. 86: 325–332 2. Metcalfe et al. (2020) Registration study BovIN.MDA.69007 accepted for publication. BIAH, 2018 3. Ellis et al. (2018) Can Vet J. 59: 1311–1319 4. Woodland (2004) TRENDS in Immunology 25(2): 98–104 *Terms and conditions apply. Go to bit.ly/bovalto-boost for more information. Bovalto® Respi Intranasal, nasal spray, lyophilisate and solvent for suspension contains Bovine parainfluenza 3 virus (PI3V), modified live virus, strain Bio 23/A 105.0 – 107.5 TCID50 and Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), modified live virus, strain Bio 24/A 104.0 – 106.0 TCID50. Bovalto® Respi 3 Suspension for Injection and Bovalto® Respi 4 Suspension for injection contain inactivated bovine respiratory syncytial virus, strain BIO-24, inactivated bovine parainfluenza 3 virus, strain BIO-23 and inactivated Mannheimia haemolytica, serotype A1 strain DSM 5283. Bovalto® Respi 4 also contains inactivated bovine viral diarrhoea virus,

CM07_p80.indd 80

strain BIO-25. UK: POM-V IE: POM (E). Advice should be sought from the prescriber. Further information available in the SPCs or from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: 01344 746960 (sales) or 01344 746957 (technical), IE Tel: 01 291 3985 (all queries) Email: vetenquiries@ boehringer-ingelheim.com. Bovalto® is a registered trademark of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. ©2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: Aug 2020. BOV-01772020. Use Medicines Responsibly.

14-10-20 16:12

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