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AUG U ST /SE P T E M B E R 2019

Bull-proof run

highlights and producer comment

Carbon footprint: our series on reducing GHG emissions begins

Producer processor makes small-scale dairy business viable


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5 7 11 17 21 39 43 50

From the editor Cow talk Roger Evans ForFarmers Nutritional News/ Thompsons Nutritional News Boehringer Ingelheim Health News CRV Avoncroft Breeding Information NMR Dairy Management News Events and contacts

main article harvesting maize


8 Harvesting maize REPORT

12 Producer processor is managing a small but viable herd and business SERIES

18 Assessing your herd’s carbon footprint BREEDI N G

22 Milk recording on grass-based units 44 High lifetime production and efficient cows 48 August bull proofs UK DAIRY DAY

25 Dairy date for your diary

8 series carbon footprint

special feeding


29 Silage ‘advantage’ and autumn grazing 36 Young-stock management/ Dry-cow nutrition HEA LTH

40 Sustainable worming practices are essential


TEM BER 2019

Bull-proof run

highlights and t producer commen

: Carbon footprint cing

our series on redu begins GHG emissions

sor Producer proces ll-scale

makes sma viable dairy business





Oliver Lee:

Hefin Richards:

“I’m making a difference and helping to reconnect people with farming”

“Autumn grazing isn’t an easy feeding option”



Zero grazing: a cow tucks into some freshly-cut grass Picture: Mark Pasveer


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Look for the positive No one knows what’s in store for dairying when the UK leaves the EU – something that’s now supposed to happen on October 31. In the wise words of Roger Evans, whose column is on page 11 of this issue, there’s nothing we can do about that so there’s no use in worrying about it. Far more productive, instead, is to focus on what you can do to mitigate risk for your herd and business as we move into what looks like being a turbulent period; politically and economically. Fortunately for many producers, there’s reason to be cheerful when it comes to home-grown forages. First-cut grass silage analysis is better than it’s been for many years. And there’s also a decent amount of it. And we’ve an article on page 30, in our feeding special, that focuses on what producers can do to get more milk from forage and, potentially, reduce their bought-in feed costs during the next few months. Careful utilisation of autumn grazing can also keep feed bills trim, but producers should keep a close eye on

cow health and nutrition during this period to avoid any cost savings from becoming a false economy. We feature a producer on page 12 who’s maximising the use of his land and running a viable dairy business, which also included a milk delivery round, with just 24 cows. His unique approach is certainly helping to mitigate some of the milk-price uncertainty faced by UK producers and he’s also re-establishing a vital link between producers and consumers. Mitigation is also the theme of our new series that looks at how producers – and the wider dairy industry – can reduce the carbon footprint of milk production. We start by speaking to an environmental specialist to get the facts on dairy emissions and some pointers on areas that need to be targeted. And, it seems that dairy is part of the solution – not the problem – when it comes to sustainable farming and climate change. So there’s plenty to be positive about, whatever Boris Johnson does come the end of October.


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Take steps to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis Mycoplasma Bovis is a significant drain on dairy businesses and it’s vital that the industry takes steps to eradicate it. So says the SRUC Aberdeen Disease Surveillance Centre’s Tim Geraghty. “We have definitely been diagnosing more cases of M Bovis during the past five years and it’s pretty widespread across the country, in both dairy and beef systems. “This may be due to a genuine increase in the prevalence of the disease, or it could reflect an increased awareness of the disease by vets and producers, along with improved diagnostic tests.” The disease affects both young and adult

cattle, and it does not respond to some common antibiotics. “The pathogen doesn’t have a cell wall. Many of our antibiotics target the cell wall, so they are going to be ineffective,” explains Mr Geraghty. “We need to prioritise funding as an industry, as there are too many unknowns,” he stresses. “We need to know how prevalent this disease is across the country, with random sampling of herds. “And there is probably strain variation, which we don’t know much about. I’d also like to see a risk-based trading scheme and certification programme.” He adds that producers should also be more

bovens bovens regel o

aware of the disease and potential risks. “If you’re buying in stock, select the herd of origin carefully to ensure there’s no history of clinical problems. Buy as few animals as you need and from as few sources as possible.” He says that an antibody test could also be an option, to check if stock are carriers before bringing them onto the farm. “On farm, ensure that housing ventilation is good and minimise stresses at challenging times, such as weaning,” he adds. “It’s also important to be aware of the clinical presentation of the disease, and to follow up with diagnostics if you’re not getting a response to control measures.”

Slurry mixer puts safety first German manufacturer Reck has developed a slurry mixer that fits between the slats in livestock housing, avoiding the need to remove slats and reducing the risks associated with mixing the slurry below. The company’s slatted floor mixer can be inserted through slats as narrow as 17mm and enables safe mixing with little disruption to livestock. Once inserted through a gap, the blades automatically unfold when the mixer is started. “It can then be swivelled laterally, which allows large volumes to be stirred from one location,” says Tramspread’s John Tydeman. “This makes pumping easier and reduces the need for staff to risk going below to

attend potentially dangerous blockages.” The mixer is available in two models and it’s the Torro that’s designed for use in slatted cow sheds. It’s light, portable and can be operated by one person. Emissions from slurry can be potent and unpredictable. When agitated or pumped, slurry emits dangerous gases such as hydrogen sulphide. “So the operator should use a slurry gas detector to monitor the levels of gas when mixing takes place,” stresses Mr Tydeman. “We always recommend a monitor, such as the Gas Alert Clip. It’s a simple, cheap device that alerts the operator to dangerous concentrations of gas and can save lives.”

Monitor for late-season parasitic disease in heifers Producers are being urged to monitor young stock for parasitic infection as the grazing seasons progresses into autumn, to prevent costly production losses. First- and second-season grazing cattle are at highest risk because they will lack sufficient

immunity to prevent disease in the face of challenge from gutworms. Infection by the gutworm (Ostertagia ostertagi) slows growth in young animals by reducing the time they spend grazing and the volume of grass ingested. “Losses in liveweight gain due to poor parasite control during a heifer’s first grazing season will not be recouped during the second year at grass, so it’s important to get it right,” says Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s Sioned Timothy. “Aiming for calving at 24 months requires attention to parasite control. Parasites left untreated can have a significant impact on the long-term productivity of dairy cattle, including impaired fertility, reduced milk yield, and reduced lifetime lactations. Starting parasite

control in an animal’s first season at grass will set her up well for a productive life.” Regularly weighing young stock to monitor target liveweights can provide a good indication of whether a parasite challenge is affecting growth. Faecal egg counts can also identify if the group is experiencing parasite challenge. “It’s neither necessary or advisable to treat the entire group,” says Ms Timothy. “Individual animals should be targeted according to their performance against weight gain targets. This is important for sustainable worm control and reducing the risk of resistance developing.” Producers should consult their vet or local animal health advisor for advice on parasite control plans and diagnostic testing in young stock.

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Timing is everythi n Could you cut your maize crop earlier? And have you considered using an inoculant? Read our timely article, on the optimal time and method for harvesting and ensiling maize, to find out more. TEXT PHIL EADES & RACHAEL PORTER


any producers could go earlier when it comes to harvesting maize – sometimes by as much as two weeks. So why are they leaving it until later and reducing the quality of their resulting forage – and potentially undermining months of hard work and investment? “Earlier maturing varieties and better crop management mean that the advice to wait until the crop goes brown in the field just isn’t correct,” says LG’s Brian Copestake, adding that the factor determining when to harvest should not the date or contractor availability, but the crop itself. “Many crops are ready for harvest in mid-September – the result of plant breeding and better agronomy. Not only do earlier-maturing varieties offer higher feed value and plenty of yield, but producers have also become more skilled at growing the crop – particularly when it comes to seed-bed preparation, sowing and subsequent treatments.” So he’s urging producers to watch their maize crops closely to ensure a well-timed harvest. “Producers must focus on harvesting maize in optimum

Roy Eastlake: “Reduce waste and heating by improving aerobic stability” 8

conditions to ensure a yield of high quality maize silage. “Maize should be harvested when the crop reaches maximum starch content with only limited leaf die back, to maintain high digestibility in the vegetative part of the plant, which supplies 50% of the total energy,” he says. “The crop must also contain sufficient moisture to allow effective compaction in the clamp. Harvesting a crop too soon will result in sub-optimal starch content, as sugars will not have been converted into starch.”

Crop development There is considerable variation in crop development regionally this year, reflecting drilling conditions and this will affect when crops mature. Mr Copestake recommends starting to walk the crop from late August to assess maturity and fitness to harvest, to prevent crops going over. He advises walking well into the crop and looking at plants in several locations. And never evaluate plants on the field margins. “The target range for an optimum crop is between 32% and 35% dry matter. At dry matter levels higher than this, palatability and intakes can be reduced, digestibility will be compromised, and the crop may prove difficult to consolidate, increasing the risk of aerobic spoilage.” He explains that crops typically ‘dry down’ at a rate of 2% per week: “But in 2018 this rate was considerably higher, at around 4%. So, it is important to start measuring dry matter and assessing maturity sooner rather than later. “In more mature crops, lignin will increase, reducing digestibility and intakes still further.” To gauge the maturity of the vegetative material he says

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hi ng to assess the flow of juice from the stem. “And look to harvest when no juice emerges as the stem is twisted, and when the leaves that are level with the cob are just beginning to turn brown.” Then assess evaluate the grains using the thumb nail test. The grains at the top of the cob should be like soft cheese, the ones at the bottom should be like hard cheese and the ones in the middle should be soft enough to leave the imprint of a thumbnail on. Another bonus of checking the rate of maturity and readiness for harvest in advance is that you’ll be more popular with your contractor. “Cutting earlier could mean that you beat the rush come early October, when other producers would typically also be harvesting their crops. So talk to your contractor and make sure they’re ready to go at the optimum time.”

Inoculant investment Earlier and more timely harvesting also means that the resulting forage will be available to add to cow rations sooner. And, according to Lallemand Animal Nutrition’s Roy Eastlake, producers’ desire to get maize into diets as soon as possible this winter, while reducing aerobic waste, will make the use of a crop and condition specific inoculant a wise investment. “With limited carryover stocks of maize silage on many dairy units this autumn, the pressure will be on to get this year’s crops harvested and into the diet as soon as possible,” he says. “And it will be vital to ensure that the feed is efficiently ensiled and to minimise the impact of poor aerobic stability.” He explains that if a clamp is open before the fermentation has stabilised, there is an increased risk of aerobic waste and increased heating, which reduces feed values. “Once a clamp starts to heat up, energy is being wasted and feed intakes are reduced. Producers could add maize into the diet sooner, but quality will be poorer and the waste during the winter can be substantial.” Mr Eastlake adds that the biggest issue with maize silage is reducing waste and heating by improving aerobic

Brian Copestake: “Many crops are ready for harvest in mid-September” stability. He stresses the importance of good clamp management, the use of an oxygen barrier, as well as ensuring that all sheets are weighted down properly. “Good consolidation is also crucial, but this can be a problem with crops harvested at more than 35% dry matter. We’d also recommend using an inoculant containing heterofermentative bacteria – the mode of action specifically helps to improve aerobic stability.” The active ingredient L buchneri has long been the gold standard for aerobic stability, but when paired with L hilgardii, in Magniva Platinum maize inoculants, the two work in synergy. During the fermentation process they quickly produce a number of anti-fungal compounds that significantly reduce the growth of yeasts and moulds that cause heating. This helps to improve ‘immediate’ aerobic stability and means that clamps can be opened much sooner without the risk of spoilage. “They also improve longer-term aerobic stability, protecting the silage while the clamp is open,” says Mr Eastlake. “By significantly reducing the populations of both yeasts and moulds, the anti-fungal compounds produced by the inoculants reduce the main cause of the clamp heating and energy losses, as well as lowered silage palatability.” “Many producers tell me that they don’t worry about aerobic spoilage, adding that they typically ‘get across’ the open face quickly. But it is important to remember than once a clamp is opened, air quickly penetrates the crop. In a well-consolidated clamp, air will penetrate beyond the face by up to a metre, but this can increase to four metres deep in inadequately consolidated clamps, which we often see with maize.” l

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Shropshire-based producer and award-winning columnist Roger Evans is trying to plan for Brexit and his herd’s up-coming TB test.

Mitigating risk I have always tried to mitigate risk – it’s one of the reasons I’ve always kept two scraper tractors. There must be something in a scraper tractor’s DNA that says it will only breakdown, or have a puncture, on a Sunday morning. The fact that we only have one scraper tractor at the moment is more to do with the difficulty of finding decent, suitable tractors at a reasonable price. What other risks do I need to address? Well, there’s Brexit – the consequences of which could vary from between dire and catastrophic for farmers. I voted to remain, and not because I thought we were in a good place. I wouldn’t, for example, have voted to join. I voted remain because I feared the consequences for farming if we were to leave. It looks as though I was right about that. I just wish that there was a way of putting the cost of leaving the EU onto the seven odd million who voted to leave. If we have a hard ‘no deal’ Brexit, followed by a recession, it will be little comfort if we see the end of the Conservative party whose MPs got us into much of this mess with their pursuit of personal gain. I can’t do anything about Brexit, so I don’t worry about it – there’s no point. The next big risk to our business is our TB test, which is looming large and due in September. Our past two tests were clear and we are bTB free at the moment. But I was very surprised to go clear and I will be even more surprised if we go clear next time. What’s the biggest downside to going down with TB? Well there’s the cost of keeping all those calves for four months, best-case scenario, but we know all about that. My biggest worry is to have a big hit on the dairy herd that leaves us short of cows. We had 18 months when we were previously shut down with TB and it was not easy, in fact it was bloody difficult. And only now, two years later, we are achieving the sort of output we need. Our present plan to cope is not without its downsides. If we bought 10 cows before our bTB test and then we lost some due to the disease, our numbers should be OK. But why should we? Buying more cattle is not without its biosecurity risks and we are keen to return to our closed-herd status. If we buy 10 more cows and we go clear, we end up with 10 more than we need and our facilities are already stretched. TB presents all of these dilemmas that we shouldn’t have to worry about. Forty years ago we wouldn’t have had to worry. There’s progress for you. We don’t need the cost of buying 10 cows that we might not need. We might need that money due to the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Or we could buy two or three scraper tractors, which brings you gently back to where this article started.

“I can’t do anything about Brexit, so I don’t worry about it – there’s no point”

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Small – but

perfectly farmed Turning a passion for dairying into a robust – and unique – milk business plan has seen one Devon-based producer turn his dream into reality. We spoke to him to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER

O How Now Dairy Ayrshire cows graze herbal leys during summer


li Lee may be limited by land – but that’s all that’s holding this Devon-based producer processor back when it comes to dairying. He’s overcome many obstacles to start his own herd, not least was a cancer diagnosis back in 2015. “But, if anything, that focused my mind and spurred me on to finally take the plunge and do what I’d always dreamed of doing,” he says.

That dream was to milk cows on land, near Ivybridge in Devon, where his grandfather, Ted Mitchell, also ran a 160-cow dairy herd up until 2002. Since then, after his grandfather retired and his untimely death three years later, all but 16 hectares have been sold. “The plan was for my grandfather to run a few bullocks on that land, so he had some livestock to busy himself with during his retirement. But that

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COMPANY PROFILE Name Producer Herd size Average yield Somatic cell count Unit size

How Now Dairy Oliver Lee 24 cows 6,500 litres, at 4.2% butterfat and 3.8% protein 160,000 cells/ml 16 hectares

never happened as he became ill,” explains Oli. The 16 hectares are now home to Oli’s 24-cow Ayrshire herd. “It’s taken me a while to get here,” says Oli, explaining that neither of his parents are farmers. We grew up near Beverley, in Yorkshire, but I have fond memories of spending time down in Devon on my grandparent’s farm. I think that was the spark for me.” Oli went to Manchester University to study chemistry. “But I soon realised that I didn’t want to become a chemist and left after a year. I think I knew then that I wanted to farm. I spent my childhood looking over hedgerows. My parents were resistant to the idea, but I’m bloody minded enough to do what I want to do anyway.”

Hard work Oli’s grandmother was also pretty ‘anti’ the idea of Oli starting a dairy herd. “It’s hard work, sometimes for little reward, and she knew that. So did my parents.” He took several farm jobs to gain practical experience and in 2014 he began a foundation degree in agriculture at Duchy College. “I spent two days a week at college, and did relief milking and part-time farm work for the rest of the week. I just wanted as much experience as possible.” He also purchased a small flock of Whiteface Dartmoor sheep (20 breeding ewes and two rams) to run on the family’s land. Oli enjoyed running the flock, but he still had his eye on dairying and began asking around to see if anyone could offer him more dairy experience. And that’s when he met Russell Ashford. Russell also had some sheep. So Oli helped with shearing and Russell shared his dairying knowledge and gave Oli a firm foothold on the dairy ladder. In fact, Oli became Russell’s herdsman in late 2014.”

Pivotal moment


drawing up a business plan for a 16-hectare dairy. “I love milk, I love cows and I love producing milk. How to do that in a feasible way and to make money with so little land and a small herd was the real challenge. But I had time to sit and figure it out.” Oli knew that raw milk tastes amazing and says that homogenised supermarket milk is ‘bland’. And that there’s also a fractured link between consumers and their food. He wanted to reconnect people with dairying and ‘proper’ tasty milk. And he wanted to run an organic herd – like Russell. “That was a seed of an idea and it grew from there,” he says. The bank liked his business plan and agreed a loan. “I secured some grant aid, and I also won a marketing competition with a cash prize. So I had to get on and just do it.”

New sheds Oli’s company, How Now Dairy, began in 2017. He built two sheds, one for housing up to 36 head of cattle, and one for the milking parlour and processing kit. And the organic conversion began. He reseeded the land with herbal leys – comprising chicory, plantain and clover – which Oli says also helps to give the milk its special taste. He also ‘tops up’ with a little perennial ryegrass. New fencing and water troughs were installed and Oli has plans to add cow tracks in the future. “We’re on heavy land here, which can be prone to poaching in wet weather. Cow tracks would help to extend our grazing season and extend the life of our leys, as well as maintain good hoof health.” So, what about the cows? “Buying cows outright was beyond my means, so I rent them from Russell, paying him an annual ‘rent’ for each cow that’s equivalent to the value of her predicted lactation’s milk.

Oli’s 16-hectare dairy and pasturising unit

“And I’d probably still be there, doing that same job, today if it wasn’t for my health scare,” says Oli. “I noticed a blind spot in one of my eyes, in January 2015, and thought I’d better get it checked out,” says the 26 years old. “It turned out to be a rare eye cancer – only one person under 30 is diagnosed with it in the UK each year. I remember the conversation with my dad on the way up to Liverpool, where I had to go for treatment, because it was a pivotal moment. “He asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I think he thought – or hoped – I was going to say that I wanted to travel. But I said that I wanted to farm grandad’s land.” Oli spent the two months he had to take off work

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How Now Dairy’s product range packaging and storage jug

Cows are milked through an abreast parlour, made from a converted mobile bail

“All the calves born are also his, and go back to his unit at between one and two weeks old. This means I don’t have to worry about calf rearing and accommodation. And we’ve also officially ‘linked’ our units, so cattle movements are not a problem.” As for selecting cows to rent, Oli says that he and Russell chose 12 each. Oli’s selection included a heifer that was from a cow that was the first he’d helped to calve. “Because I wasn’t able to produce a huge amount of milk, or keep a lot of cows, I needed to add value to the business. And so on-farm processing and setting up a local delivery service, with a USP, was vital.” His USP is the milk itself. “We pasteurise but we don’t homogenise and it tastes amazing. The looks on people’s faces when they taste it says it all. “And they also like that it’s organic and it’s local and extra fresh. Very local, in fact. Customers are often drinking milk that was grass just 24 hours before.”

Steady growth Sales began in January 2019 and growth has been steady, thanks to word of mouth, social media and local press advertising. But Oli says that talking to consumers face to face – ‘taste and talk’ – is the most effective way to increase his customer base. “It’s time consuming, but it works. So it’s time well spent,” he says. “I go door to door with samples and just tell people about the cows and what we’re doing. There’s no hard sell – it’s just a chat. And a chance to taste what’s on offer.” Oli says that when the manager at one of the cafes he supplies tried the milk for the first time you could see on his face that he’d been transported back to some childhood memory of how milk used to taste. “I really enjoy that side of things – interacting with people and re-igniting their passion for milk and their connection with farming.” All the milk produced by the herd – Oli typically has 20 cows milking and four dry at any one time – is pasteurised and packed into one- and two-litre recyclable cartons. It’s then sold direct to customers on a local milk


round, who order on line. “We do sell to a couple of cafes and shops, but 80% is doorstep deliveries,” explains Oli. Two part-time staff deliver milk six days a week, no further than eight miles from the farm and Oli processes milk every other day. The plant can pasteurise and package 700 litres per hour. “We bought the best we could when we invested in kit. It’s a tiny set up compared to the rest of the processing industry. But it does what we need to do and we’ll never need to invest in that side of things again.” So not only has Oli learned the fundamentals of dairy farming, he’s also had a crash course in food hygiene and processing, and retailing and marketing. “It is hard work – just as my family warned me. But I do enjoy it. It’s about so much more than dairying – I feel like I’m making a real difference when it comes to reconnecting people with farming and the environment. The herd is DIY NMR recorded and its average yield is around 6,500 litres, at 4.2% butterfat and 3.8% protein, with a somatic cell count of 160,000 cells/ml.

‘Green’ packaging Milk is currently sold in recyclable pouches that use 70% less plastic than cartons. Customers are given a jug to pour the milk into and store in fridge. And Oli collects and recycles them, but he has other compostable packaging in the pipeline, which will further reduce plastic use and the carbon footprint of his operation. And other products could be added to the How Now Dairy range in future. Oli is thinking about producing cream. “But first we need to develop recyclable packaging for it.” He would also like to expand the herd to 40 cows by 2021: “But land is limiting, so I’d need to find an additional 16 to 24 hectares to grow silage. So that’s the next big obstacle.” With his tenacity and strong understanding of the market for his product, it’s one that’s unlikely to hold him back. He’s seeing customer demand increasing on a weekly basis too, so there’s plenty of incentives to drive him forward. l

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

Here, in the first of a series of five articles, we take a look at how to calculate the carbon footprint of your unit and what that information means for your business, your herd and the environment.

Footprint focus With the environmental impact of dairying coming under increasing scrutiny, we ask: what is a carbon footprint and which greenhouse gases should producers be aiming to reduce – and how? TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


ontrary to popular belief, even though cows do emit methane, and milk production does have a significant carbon footprint, dairying is by no means the ‘bad guy’ it’s painted to be when it comes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming. It’s certainly a contributor though. Dairying accounts for 30% of the UK’s total GHG emissions. But, according to several scientists and industry specialists, dairying – and particularly the associated grassland production – could be part of the solution, and not the problem, when it comes to sustainable food production, soil health and, indeed, protecting the environment. That’s certainly the view of Promar’s head of sustainability Tom Gill, who adds that the starting point is knowing the collective carbon footprint (CF) of dairying – as well as that of your particular unit – and then working towards reducing it and offsetting or ‘mitigating’ GHG emissions.

GHG emissions Dairying’s key GHG emissions comprise CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide). The latter persists in the atmosphere for decades and has the highest global warming potential (GWP) of the three. All three are

produced and emitted by the cow through belching, urine and faeces. Other emissions from dairy, that are also the focus of reduction plans, include nitrate and ammonia – both are excreted through faeces and urine. Steps to improve feed efficiency, as well as grassland and manure management, will go a long way towards reducing these GHG emissions. Cattle breeding also has a key role to play in reducing the CF of UK dairy herds. Cows with a higher feed conversion efficiency will convert more nitrogen into milk, and they’ll also belch out less methane. Mr Gill says that the target recently set by UK government, for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a bid to end the UK’s contribution to climate change, was a bold step. “This will be impossible for some industries, without some mitigation further along the supply chain.” He cites the energy, fuel, concrete and tarmac industries: “They’re going to have a serious challenge to meet net zero obligations because they’re using finite natural resources, and once used these cannot be replenished. And it won’t be easy for dairy producers to hit the target either. But the cyclical nature of dairy, through the methane/carbon cycle, means, if we take the whole process into account, from producing milk through to processing and packaging, it

Dairy carbon footprint facts • UK dairy cow population has fallen from

around 2.2 million in 2001 to around 1.9 million in 2018. • UK total milk production has increased from around 14.5 million litres in 2001 to around 15 million litres in 2018. Average yield per cow has increased from 6,449 litres in 2001/2002 to 7,825 in 2017/2018, according to AHDB Dairy’s 2019 figures. • GHG emissions from dairy include: CO2 and


CH4 (methane). The latter is the result of belching and enteric fermentation. Improved rumen function will reduce CH4 emissions – and improve feed conversion efficiency (FCE). • Methane emissions from enteric fermentation in cattle has decreased from 22 million tonnes in 1990 to 19 million tonnes in 2015. • Nitrate, ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide are also emitted via urine and faeces.

The latter (N2O) is a particularly potent GHG, with an extremely high global warming potential compared to methane and carbon dioxide, but emissions of this gas have fallen from 19 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes during the past 20 years, due to reductions in use of inorganic fertiliser, improved soil management, and new cultivation techniques (zero till/no till) which keep N2O in the ground.

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Tom Gill: “Reducing your CF will result in a more robust business” could be possible. There can be mitigations along the supply chain; but it would need to be a joined up, team effort. “Many producers will need to consider significant change within their businesses to reduce their CF to 0.6kg of carbon per litre. The current average is closer to 1.2kg per litre. But as part of an integrated food chain, it would be possible for the dairy industry, as a whole, to produce what would technically be carbon-neutral milk once it hit supermarket shelves.” The good news is that AHDB Dairy figures show that producers have, on average, already improved their CF. And Defra’s GHG inventory for UK dairy herds also shows an improvement, reporting a fall in emissions for milk production – driven by improved feed conversion efficiency – during the past five years. “Latest data on the UK dairy herd average CF, from AHDB Dairy’s report in 2012/13, is still pretty robust,” says Mr Gill. “But where milk buyers are auditing and incentivising producers, it could well be below the 1.2kg per litre average.”

Reducing carbon footprint

Useful links • •


• environment/carbon-footprint-report-year-3/#.XTiribvsZD8

The development of high-sugar grass varieties and mixtures with improved feed values has helped to improve feed conversion efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. And a greater awareness of the benefits of reseeding grass leys and good soil and manure management, have also played a role in reducing the CF of dairying during the past decade. Lands – particularly grassland – is great way to ‘lock up’ and sequester carbon. “There are also fewer cows being milked in the UK, but average yields have increased, with milk being produced more efficiently in terms of feed conversion. There’s a definite drive to improve cow longevity with better health and fertility. These all contribute to reducing the CF.” Continuing to improve the carbon footprint of the UK dairy herd will be a challenge. “But it’s exciting and opens up the possibility of herds become more efficient than ever before,” says Mr Gill. So how do producers measure the carbon footprint of their herd and unit? “There’s plenty of advice out there to help take the mystery out of measuring your CF which, on the surface, is quite a complex thing to measure,” he adds. Promar, AlltechE-CO2, AB Sustain and Farm Carbon Footprint (based in the south west), all offer services to help producers carry out a CF ‘lifecycle assessment’. “And producers who want to do it themselves can go on line and use the free Cool Farm tool – which is a greenhouse gas, water, and biodiversity calculator.” But Mr Gill stresses that the starting point is to know your CF and your key contributors. “And any work or investment that reduces GHG emissions and your herd’s CF will result in a more sustainable and financially-robust business, and a greener management system that’s better able to meet any future environmental requirements.” l

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#Calfmatters survey 2019 shows positive progress The annual #Calfmatters survey has just closed and results are being analysed. These will be presented at UK Dairy Day on September 11 in Telford. Twenty survey respondents will also be chosen as the lucky winners of a calf kit, and there are more kits up for grabs on the Boehringer Ingelheim stand at the show. Highlights from previous surveys: • Almost 40% of respondents admitted that more than 10% of their calves had been ill with pneumonia and were treated accordingly • 66% of producers do not vaccinate against bovine respiratory disease. When asked what the impact of pneumonia was, responses in order of popularity were: • Increased vet and medicine costs • Loss of income from less productive calves • Loss of income from dead/culled calves • Increased staff time and costs • Increased time to finishing/bulling weight. Producers who responded to the survey currently implement the following measures: • Colostrum intake – 10% bodyweight by volume within the first four hours of birth • Calves housed in similar age groups • Optimal housing conditions • Calf jackets in cold weather

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Congress aligns on need for legislation

• Growth tracking to spot poor performers • Calf and dam vaccination • Temperature monitoring • Group antibiotic treatment • Building temperature monitoring • Ear-mounted temperature monitoring device. Almost 75% of respondents monitored colostrum intake within the first four hours of life, which is encouraging. Come along to the Boehringer Ingelheim stand at UK Dairy Day (H219) to find out more, or why not visit the workshop at 11am in Zone 1 of the Sharing Knowledge Zone.

National milk fever survey aims to improve knowledge A national milk fever survey, to find out more about producers’ experiences and opinions of this condition in UK herds, has been launched by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. The survey has been developed by the company to help fill in some of the gaps in knowledge about the condition’s full impact on the productivity of UK herds. To incentivise producers to complete the survey, there will be a prize draw from


The Milk Fever Survey Complete this form to win one of many Bovikalc prizes - 1 Bovikalc Metal Applicators, Bovikalc Gilets and more✳. Your help and time is much appreciated. Privacy Notice It is a requirement under the GDPR to inform you about how we store data relating to you and our interactions with you. Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to protecting your privacy. Our policies and procedures are aimed at protecting the integrity and confidentiality of personal data about you, to comply with data protection laws. Your data from the survey will be processed as part of the survey post analysis. Survey results will be used and presented at farming events in the UK and in the UK farming press. Personal data will be processed for contacting winners of the prize draw and for the purposes of product development, quality assurance and to make you aware of relevant products and services. Whenever we process personal data about you, we make sure that we treat your data with respect and adhere to your data protection rights. You can find more information on this topic at This doesn’t affect any previous consent for signing up to emails from Boehringer Ingelheim Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. Email: Bovikalc is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, used under licence. ©2019 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: May 2019. AHD12278.

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completed entries with 20 winners receiving Bovikalc metal applicators, outers, or gilets. “Milk fever can result in significant hidden losses and increase the risk of other conditions, particularly during the transition period, as well as having a significant impact on cow welfare,” says the company’s Mathieu Maignan. “Finding out what is of most concern and how producers currently deal with issues will help us to support them more effectively.” Milk fever affects between 4% and 9% of UK dairy cows, with the sub-clinical form affecting up to 39%. “The survey will provide an up-todate figure to compare with the previous data, and look at any regional trends that may exist,” adds Mr Maignan. Producers who have yet to receive a survey form can request one from their Boehringer Ingelheim territory manager, or complete the survey online, before 31 August 2019, at

The 2019 BVDzero Congress, which was held in July, brought together stakeholders from across the UK and Ireland at a time when collaborative disease eradication between countries has never been more important. So says Boehringer Ingelheim’s Matt Yarnall, who helped to co-ordinate the meeting. The take-home message from the one-day event was that progress must be made with eradicating BVD from UK and Irish herds and the congress concluded that legislation is required. Scotland and Ireland already have legislation in place. England and Wales currently have no legislation in place regarding BVD control measures. And, to avoid being left behind, consensus was that legislation is needed. The results of the 2019 National BVD Survey highlighted just how difficult it is to prevent and control BVD. Around 20% of respondents said that their herds were ‘closed’, yet many also said that they bought in bulls. A significant proportion of respondents also claim to vaccinate as a key part of their biosecurity, yet don’t read the data sheet and rarely, if ever, restart a vaccination course if it has lapsed (something that happens frequently). “Delegates agreed that it is important to stop worrying about the costs of testing and effective biosecurity, and instead to focus on the financial benefits of being free of the disease. And, if we do that, we’ll see the benefits of increased trade,” said Mr Yarnall.

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

16/05/2019 17:16

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‘Records-driven’ dairy Good grass-based dairy units are managed to the blade of grass. But when it comes to individual cow management, things can be a bit ‘slack’. Not so on one Anglesey-based dairy unit, which started milk recording in spring 2019. TEXT KAREN WRIGHT


ethin Roberts is a partner in owner Richard Rogers’ dairy businesses. Two herds – totalling 610 New Zealand crossbred cows – are run independently but follow the same model. Forage production and young stock rearing takes place on a third unit. All are within 1.5 miles of each other. Both milking units, Tre Ifan and Bodrida, were beef and sheep units and converted to grass-based dairy units during the past five years – starting with the 90-hectare unit at Tre Ifan in 2015. Milk-from-grass targets are high with cows grazing for nine months of the year, depending on the weather. “We have reseeded about 65% of the land,” says Gethin, who wants to build on the current two thirds of milk that’s produced from home-grown forage. Cows calve in a 10-week period, starting on February 7, and, if


conditions are good, they are then turned out to graze. “But we have a fairly flexible system when it comes to grazing. A few wet days can lead to poaching and affect grass growth for months, so we bring cows into cubicles and yards, and keep them off the leys.”

Dry matter target With an average of 990mm of rain a year and a good mix of soils, they can achieve between four and 4.6 cows per hectare at Tre Ifan and at Bodrida. “And we’re targeting 16 tonnes of dry matter per hectare as we reseed more of the grassland.” The average is currently between 14 and 15 tonnes of dry matter per hectare, but they are reseeding about 15% of the leys a year with high sugar Aber varieties. The management of the grassland and performance of

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cows earned them the title of BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year in 2018. Monitoring grass growth weekly and recording the details on AgriNet means that grassland is managed very precisely and Gethin is confident that this helps them reap the potential of the grazing. It’s a data-led system and one that he’s ‘copying’ in managing his cows as individuals rather than a herd, thanks to the recently introduced milk recording service. They use NMR four times a year: mid-April, early June, the end of August, and mid- November.

Efficient cows “We started milk recording so we could pick out the best cows to breed from,” says Gethin, who admits that he’s ultimately looking for the most efficient cows. “These might not be the highest production cows, but those that produce the milk volume and solids we need, are healthy and fertile, and convert forage into plenty of milk. There are many factors to consider.” Eventually he’d like to link body weight to his milk records. “For example, a smaller cow at 450kg body weight and producing the same milk as one weighing 550kg is likely to be more efficient and more profitable for us.” But he’s happy with his first sets of milk records, which have enabled him and his team of three staff to set breeding criteria based on accurate data. The business supplies South Caernarvon Creamery from one herd and Yew Tree from the other. “Both buyers want milk solids, but we also need the litres to carry those solids. So I’m looking at each cow’s yield, as well as weight of fat and protein.”

Cow cubicles – some indoors and some outdoors

status and the control measures in place. We’re now testing cows quarterly for Johne’s disease.” Although, to date, they’ve only had three sets of milk records and disease test results, the data has added a new dimension to dairy management on these units. “It’s a far more planned approach. I am more confident that I have dairy calves in the right cows this year,” he says, having used sexed semen on heifers and on his better cows, and dairy sires on those cows making the cut. “Based on our NMR records, we pulled out 20% of our cows and put them to beef bulls. “All herds have good and bad cows. We need to know which ones are good and breed from them and take out the bottom end. You can’t do this just by looking at or knowing the daily milk production – there’s far more to it than that.” l

Breeding benchmarks If cows are averaging 25kg a day, he sets a 20% lower benchmark and doesn’t breed any cow to a dairy sire yielding below 21kg a day, or below 1.6kg of fat and protein. “I also don’t breed lame cows or any with cell counts above 200,000 cells/ml to a dairy sire.” Gethin also admits that the disease testing options through NMR were a key attraction, particularly Johne’s screening. “Our buyers will want evidence of our disease

Gethin Roberts: “Milk records add a new dimension to our herd management”

Making grass-based cows accountable Breed from the best and implement selection intensity. That’s the message from LIC’s Timothy Bunnett. “Producers who consider themselves good grassland producers must turn their meticulous grassland monitoring and management skills to individual cow management if they are to maximise the potential of their genetics,” he says. “And milk records enable them to do this.” Demonstrating the benefit of milk records for selecting cows for breeding, he quotes a typical difference of between 12 and 14 litres per kilogramme of milk solids when herds start milk recording – which amounts to between 2,200 and 2,600 litres per cow per

year. “This range will narrow, and producers will start to raise the bar once they start using their records to select the cows to breed from, and are able to look back at the records for dams of heifers. This is particularly relevant in cross-bred herds,” he says. And, as breeding advisers, he adds that his team at LIC can make far more of a difference in herds where there are accurate milk records. “We can see the starting point and make sure our advice enables the herd to progress quickly and become more efficient and profitable.” LIC’s Pasture to Profit conference ‘Mind the Profit Gap’ is on October 16, 2019 at

Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Sessions will look at finding the extra 10% and at the tools required to turn grass into profit. This will include monitoring and measuring herd performance. For more details and to book tickets visit

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Dairy date

UK DAIRY DAY • Wednesday September 11, from 8am to 5.30pm • International Centre, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 4JH • Free entry, parking, and Wi-Fi • No pre-registration required

for your diary The sixth UK Dairy Day, to be held at the International Centre in Telford on Wednesday September 11, is an opportunity for producers to network, share knowledge, learn, and – most importantly – make key business decisions ahead of the winter. TEXT REBECCA BARNINGHAM


osting the National Holstein Show, this year’s UK Dairy Day will also see the return of the National Ayrshire Show and National Brown Swiss Show, along with classes for Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey and Jersey. The packed schedule for the centre stage show ring in Hall 2 will see breeders compete for a share of the £25,000 prize fund. The venue’s internal and external exhibition areas will showcase 300 trade stands, representing UK, European and international businesses. Visitors can find out more about the latest products, services and technologies that are available to enhance their dairy business performance and efficiency. The International Centre’s first floor sees the return of the Sharing Knowledge Zone, with professional service providers, charities, and colleges all on hand to offer advice and support. The seminars will feature presentations covering informative relevant subjects and a careers board will advertise current opportunities within the dairy industry. And one of the highlights is the practical demonstrations taking place throughout the day.

Foot trimming demonstration Tim Carter and his team return to the external trade stand area, where they will demonstrate foot trimming and knife sharpening, including block work. The popular ‘Beneath the Black and White Calf’ anatomy painting demonstration returns, located in the Calf Rearing Zone. The calf rearing zone will feature businesses offering advice on all aspects for calf rearing, health, hygiene, feeding and management. The show is free to attend and no preregistration is required. Just turn up, pick up a wrist band and enjoy the event. l For more information visit www.ukdairyday. and keep up to date on social media #ukdairyday and #dedicatedtodairy

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FEEDING 30 Silage ‘advantage’ First forage analyses show that quality is good this year. So how can producers exploit this?

32 Autumn grazing

Balance nutrition to make the most of late-season grass without comprising yields or fertility

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Make the most of first-cut

silage opportunity Producers should be gearing up to exploit this year’s top-quality silage and take the chance to reduce their bought-in feed bill. We take a look at how best to go about it. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


his year’s first cut is, as they say, ‘a bit of alright’. And Devon-based Promar consultant Sue Bryan is certainly excited about producers’ prospects this coming winter. “Some have made silage that’s like rocket fuel. But more typically it’s just really good. There’s plenty to be positive about, going into the coming winter,” she says. And, she stresses, the exceptional and balanced crop is an opportunity not to be missed. “This year there are no excuses. Yields are typically good and there’s little wet or acidic silage. It’s all come together for many producers.” With more than 650 samples now analysed, first cut silage certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. Trouw Nutrition GB’s Liz Homer says that samples have been received considerably earlier this year, reflecting the growing


season and a swing towards multi-cut systems. The 2019 season is roughly two weeks ahead of 2018, with the first samples arriving in late April, and numbers dropped back during June. “The good weather and better early growth will have contributed to this and we know that many more producers have opted to take more cuts, bringing the first-cut date forward,” she explains. Dr Homer adds that the early samples were well fermented, but characterised by higher NDF and lignin compared to the general dataset – an indicator of a higher proportion of more mature grass. But, overall, she says first cuts analysed so far are well fermented with higher dry matters, a result of optimal harvesting conditions. And sugar content is higher. “Dry matter is 34.1%, compared to 31.2% in 2018, and

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lactic acid is lower which is what we would expect with a drier crop. Looking at the nutritional analysis (see Table 1), Dr Homer says that average ME content is higher at 11.5MJ/ kg DM than it was in 2018. Crude protein is marginally lower at 15.4%. The intake potential of this year’s crop is also higher, up from 97.3g/kg metabolic liveweight in 2018 to 106.4g/kg metabolic liveweight this year. “This means that cows should be enthusiastic about eating more silage – good news where there’s plenty of first and second cuts. If there’s also a heavy third cut, producers will be able to increase the proportion of grass silage in the winter diet.”

Palatable silage Mrs Bryan says that for producers who are happy with milk yields, this year’s grass silage represents an opportunity to cut back on bought-in feeds and realise more milk from forage. “Whatever your milk production goals, grass silage can produce more of it this winter. Cows are designed to eat forage, so let them show you what they can do when fed a top-quality, palatable silage.” This year offers many producers the opportunity to take a typical winter ration, comprising grass silage and 4kg of blend, and reduce the latter by 1kg. “This should be replaced with 4kg fresh weight of grass silage. And it’s key to ensure that the cows are, indeed, eating all that dry matter,” she says. “And that’s not just about rationing and mixing the feed correctly. The cows also require good access to the feed – 24/7. Good feed fence design and space, and regular push ups, are essential. Aim for residuals of between 3% and 4% – the average is between 5% and 8%. This is what should be left at the feed fence at between 4am and 5am.” To target the herd’s optimal intake, Mrs Bryan says that it’s important to capitalise on the cows’ natural herd behaviour: “Can they all eat at once? Is there still plenty of space and opportunity for shy animals and those with poorer locomotion to get to the feed fence? “Producers need to manipulate the cow environment to offer every opportunity for the cows to access feed – and for them to want to eat. So minimise the time that cows are standing around waiting to be milked – possibly milk half the herd at a time. It’s all about ensuring that she has the time, space and opportunity to eat until she’s full. “Never give her an excuse not to eat – ensure that feed is palatable and readily available. She should be eating when she’s not being milked, chewing the cud or sleeping. So watch your cow flow and behaviour, and look for any possible ‘bottle necks’.” Also keep a close eye on dung, particularly if their silage is a little ‘hot’. “Some producers may need to add a little chopped straw or hay to their rations to prevent it from flying through the rumen quicker than they can feed it. Promar’s Mrs Bryan recommends a ‘muzzle width’ chop and to add straw, incrementally as required, at a rate of 0.25kg per head. “We want the silage to sit in the rumen and form a ‘mat’ for the rumen bugs to work on. Some may need to ‘cool down’ their rations by adding straw. Just a little at first and then more if you need to.” Sugarbeet pulp or soya hulls can also help to slow down the rate of rumen passage. “Your cows – or rather their

dry matter (%) pH NH3 of total N (%DM) VFA (g/kg DM) lactic acid (g/kg DM) crude protein (%DM) D value (%DM) ME (MJ/kg DM) sugar (%DM) NDF (%DM) lignin (g/kg DM) ash (%DM)

average 2019

average 2018

34.1 4.3 3.2 18.9 74.2 15.4 71.8 11.5 3.1 45.8 35.2 8.9

31.2 4.2 3.1 18.5 90.9 15.9 70.6 11.3 2.3 45.1 26.3 8.8

Table 1: Early first-cut grass silage average 2019 (source TNGB)

Liz Homer, consultant: “The intake potential of this year’s crop is higher” dung and milk yield – are the best guide. And check cudding rates. Buy a cheap kitchen sieve and rinse a sample of dung. If the feed ingredients look undigested, the ration is passing through the rumen too quickly.” She says the key to feeding cows any ration, in any given year, is to look for cow signals. “The ration may read well on paper and be well presented at the feed fence. But look at how the cows are responding to it. “It doesn’t take a complicated computer programme or a degree in ruminant nutrition to see if there’s undigested feed.”

Good operators Mrs Bryan also stresses that to get the most from silage this year, the person mixing the ration needs to be ‘on the ball’. “If the extra forage and straw in the ration take the wagon above its mixing load limit, good operators will do two mixes. They won’t cut corners, overload the mixer and compromise the quality of the mix. Remember, what’s formulated on paper needs to be what’s mixed, fed out and consumed by the cows.” And if it does work, there are considerable cost savings to be made – in the region of 25p per cow per day for a typical dairy herd. For 100 cows that £25 per day. Multiply that by a 180-day winter and that’s £4,500. For a 200-cow herd, that’s £9,000. “I’d really like to see concentrate feed rates falling away on many UK units this winter,” she adds. “Silage quality is rarely this good – and seldom available in these quantities. I’m hoping lots of producers capitalise on this opportunity.” l

Sue Bryan, consultant: “Ensure that feed is palatable and readily available” cowmanagement AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019

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Weigh up autumn-

grazing balance

Autumn grazing is an opportunity for producers to continue to produce milk from the ‘cheapest’ feed available on farm – grass. But it’s vital to look at the bigger picture and avoid incurring greater costs. We spoke to a vet and nutritionist to find out more. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


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uch depends on the weather, and conditions under foot, as the season progresses. But many producers will be looking to extend their grazing season this year and make the most of the late flush of grass growth. “Autumn grazing certainly has a part to play on many dairy units, but producers have to be realistic and pragmatic about how it fits into the bigger picture,” says Rumenation Nutrition Consultancy’s Hefin Richards. “Feed costs saved in the short term may not be worth it in the long run. Buffer feeding may be required to maintain milk yields and body condition. And grazing autumn grass is probably best suited to mid- and late-lactation, lower-yielding cows – those producing no more than 20 litres and day and that are back in calf. “Lush autumn grazing is certainly not for grazing by dry cows that are close to calving, and fresh and milking cows will require careful buffering if producers want to continue grazing them during the day.” Autumn grass – although it can be plentiful and it’s a shame not to graze it – has its limitations. “It’s typically very high in protein and low in fibre. Many producers are unrealistic about this. “It passes through the cow very quickly – and a lot of the protein goes with it – and milk ureas can be elevated. The cow can lose condition, yields can drop off and, in the case of early lactation cows, getting her back in calf will be more difficult.”

Body condition “Autumn grass can be a recipe for disaster for closeup dry cows. Mineral imbalance and poor rumen fill can lead to difficulties at calving and in the transition period”, Mr Richards says. “And far-off dry cows should also be managed carefully to temper energy intakes and prevent them from putting on excessive body condition. So there’s a lot to think about.” So select which cows are suitable for autumn grazing and then carefully balance the ration. The high protein in the grass must be balanced with energy and something to slow its passage through the rumen. “And complement this autumn grass with plenty of energy. Feeding wholecrop wheat in a buffer is ideal – it’s a decent amount of fibre, plenty of starch and it’s low in protein. Or look to add maize silage, sugar beet pulp, or nutritionally improved straw pellets as fibre sources. “Soya hulls are also good for slowing the rate of passage through the rumen. Don’t forget that allimportant rumen mat, which the rumen bugs need to work on.” Mr Richards stresses that the potential feed cost savings from autumn grazing – typically between £1.50 and £3.00 per cow per day – can soon be lost and outweighed by the cost of problems caused by poorly balanced rations – lost yield, body condition and fertility issues.

Hefin Richards, nutritionist: “Autumn grazing isn’t an easy feeding option” Producers also need to keep grass staggers in mind. “Lush autumn growth will be high in potassium, which antagonises magnesium uptake. A dead cow will wipe out any cost savings – and much more – in one fell swoop. So keep that in mind. Autumn grazing isn’t an easy feeding option. It’s important to look at the bigger picture.” Dugdale’s technical development manager and dairy vet Debby Brown says that grass testing has a role to play in balancing autumn grazing and dairy rations. “Test the grass regularly and check the quality. It’s vital to avoid any nutritional ‘shocks’, and feeding a consistent ration is important,” she says.

Fertility issues And she agrees that grazing fresh and high yielders in the autumn is a gamble. “Think hard about the repercussions of utilising ‘cheap’ grass. What will the fallout be for cows that are producing a lot of milk and are yet to get back in calf ? “Lost body condition will have to be regained when the cows are housed and this will also have a severe impact on fertility. There are some huge costs to cover here. So autumn grazing is not cost effective for all cows. It does depend on stage of lactation, fertility status and daily milk yield.” Ideally, on most units, any close-up dry cows and fresh calvers should be inside and on full rations by mid-August. “But I can understand the temptation to graze them if grass growth is good. “Producers have to weigh up the consequences of inadequate nutrition during such key stages of the cow’s lactation. And, if they can supplement them adequately to avoid any nutritional or metabolic stress, it could be an option. “It’s vital not to just focus on the grass and assume that, if there’s plenty, it will meet the cow’s nutritional requirements for maintenance, fertility and milk yield. “I think it’s safe to assume that early- and midlactation cows will require a buffer. If not to maintain dry matter intakes and rumen fill, then certainly to balance the high protein levels in autumn grass with a readily available source of energy and some additional fibre to slow down the grazed grass’ rate of passage through the rumen.” l

Debby Brown, vet: “Assume that early- and midlactation cows need a buffer” cowmanagement AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019

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Future focus on

young-stock management After developing a successful, high-yielding dairy herd, two Dorsetbased producers are continuing to push for improvements across all aspects of their business to realise their cows’ full potential. TEXT JAMES MARSHALL


methodical approach to improving their dairy business is paying dividends for brothers Paul and Bryan Stranger. They’ve made significant improvements to herd performance by focusing intensively on improving one specific area of the business at a time. Paul and Bryan farm in partnership, at Mansfield Farm in north Dorset, and they have gradually expanded the family business from a 120-cow herd, averaging 8,000 litres per cow, to 270 head with cows averaging 12,000 litres. “We are on a long journey and will continue to slowly develop our business until we feel it is meeting its full


potential,” explains Paul. “The key focus for us, in the long term, has been to increase cow numbers, increase milk output, and maintain good constituent levels. Now that we have achieved this, we want to improve young stock performance, and herd fertility to ensure that we are ticking all the boxes – right across the board. “The herd currently averages 12,000 litres at 3.65% butterfat and 3.26% protein. While dry-cow management is pretty much where we want it, there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to rearing and managing young stock, and fertility.” Mansfield Farm comprises 180 hectares, split into 60 hectares of maize, 65 hectares of first cut silage,

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Paul Stranger (left) and ForFarmers’ Peter Cade

12 hectares for fodder beet, and grazing for young stock and dry cows. “About four years ago it became clear that our housing infrastructure wasn’t fit for purpose, so we bit the bullet and decided to erect a purpose-built cow shed,” explains Paul. “With the extra space, we then decided to house our high yielders all year round.” Cows are milked twice a day and in the summer high yielders are fed a ration comprising: 50:50 mix of maize and grass silage, along with chopped straw; 9.75kg of Pellemix; and 0.5kg of Lintec. This provides maintenance plus 32 litres and individual cows are then topped up to yield with concentrate in the parlour, capped at a rate of 4kg per milking.

Maintaining butterfat “The only change to the diet during the winter is that we also feed between 9kg and 10kg of home-grown fodder beet per cow,” says Paul. “The cows love eating it and it has done a great job of maintaining butterfat and protein, with milk protein actually increasing from 3.16% in 2016 to today’s 3.26%.” Paul and Bryan are happy with the milk yields and milk quality that the cows are achieving, but now want to focus on other areas of the business. “We calve all year round and rear around 80 heifers a year,” says Paul. “Our target is to get heifers calving down at between 22 and 24 months of age, but we are some way off that at the moment. “We have made some improvements, switching from rearing calves indoors, to using calf hutches, and, this Cow housing: the facilities at Mansfield Farm

summer, we have trialled rearing calves outdoors on a paddock-based system. We have had good results and calf health has definitely improved,” says Paul. During the past two years, Paul and his brother have also worked hard to improve herd fertility. Around 75% of cows are currently served 80 days after calving and the herd’s calving interval stands at 390 days. “We have been working closely with our farm vet and fertility specialists, Alta Genetics, to synchronise our system so that we can achieve a target of serving cows by 70 days after calving.” Dry-cow management has also come under closer scrutiny and there have been some changes. “We had a lot of issues with milk fever but two years ago, on the advice of ForFarmers’ Peter Cade, we started feeding TRANSLAC Advance, with Calcium Capture, and we’ve hardly had any problems since.”

Conception rates Peter is keen to highlight that the brothers’ hard working is paying off: “Paul and Bryan have only relatively recently started focusing on young stock and fertility performance, and already, in just two years, conception rates have improved from 20% to 39%.” One supplement that has been a key part of the herd’s diet for a while is Lintec – a linseed feed that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and also utilises a specific strain of thermo-extruded linseed. It provides a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to protected fats and helps to support cow fertility and milk production, according to Peter. It is fed, strategically, at a flat rate of 0.5kg per cow per day to the herd’s high yielders, all year round. “The supplement works well as part of our system, because everything else is already being done to support or try and improve cow performance – be it housing, feeding, or management,” says Paul. “Peter is always keen to stress that Lintec isn’t a magic solution to fertility or production problems, but it helps to support strong cow performance.” And Paul plans to continue to improve herd performance. “The icing on the cake will be to calve heifers at between 22 and 24 months old – that’s currently one of our key goals.” l Comfortable cows: cubicles are sand bedded

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UK groups visit NRM CRV welcomed more than 350 international guests from 35 different countries during NRM 2019, including a group of 30 people from the UK. They visited several dairy units, including the Flemish CRV test farm owned and run by the Peeters family, who milk more than 500 cows. The group also visited a Dutch herd with high lifetime milk production

and they visited the unit that was the first in the Netherlands to install a Lely milking robot, back in the early 1990s. The group was also given an explanation about the CRV breeding programme and about the feed research data CRV is collecting. The UK guests ended their stay with a visit to the NRM.

bovens bovens regel o

On stage Have you already planned a visit to one of the regional exhibitions this autumn? We would be more than pleased to welcome you to the CRV Avoncroft stand. Drop by and grab a cup of coffee. We’ll be at all the shows and events listed below. We hope to see you there. date


September 12 Westmorland Show October 2 Dairy Show South West October 29 Welsh Dairy Show

Grants available

CRV Avoncroft website renewed CRV Avoncroft has recently re-launched its website. Navigation from the re-designed home page is easier and visitors will be able to find information about the Better Life breeding values for health and efficiency – and select the best bulls – more quickly. There’s also a wealth of information about Ovalert and SireMatch. And visitors can also access the latest CRV Avoncroft articles and news pages that have been published in CowManagement. The ‘bull search’ function also has a more prominent place on the revamped site.

Grants are available now that could provide some funding towards CRV’s Ovalert heat and health monitoring system. This system allows producers to keep an extra close eye on their herd, 24 hours a day. To find out more visit countryside-productivity-scheme

Take a look at the new website at

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

Impressive groups at Dutch National show NRM CRV showed an impressive progeny group of Bouw Rocky at the recent NRM. The exponent of long lasting and healthy cows, Rocky is the highest longevity sire currently available.

Producers described their Rocky daughters as ‘invisible cows within the herd’, with very good udders and locomotion. And they are extremely easy to manage. CRV also

Bouw Rocky’s progeny group on show at the recent NRM

presented a theme group – ‘proven cows with high components’. This included a selection of Dutch cows that had calved at least three times with an average production of 4.70% fat and 3.75% protein. CRV also showed a group of six cows to represent it’s current breeding programme. This groups comprised the best cows within their age group, based on their genomic breeding values. It included, for example, Hedra Delta Rora, the dam of Finder son Delta Treasure. The embryos of the cows in this group have been used on more than 200 Delta Satellite herds in the Netherlands, Flanders, and the Czech Republic.

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Sustainable worming practices are essential The sustainable and effective management of parasites is key to protecting heifer growth rates and dairy productivity. And it’s vital that producers understand the basic principles of anthelmintic resistance to help avoid creating a situation where wormers are no longer effective. TEXT REBECCA DAWSON


arasites contribute to production loss and reduced profitability and anthelmintic wormers are an important part of parasite control. But Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health’s Sioned Timothy urges producers not to repeat the mistakes made by the sheep industry by relying on anthelmintics alone – or being too liberal with their use. “It is essential that anthelmintics are used appropriately, as part of an integrated parasite control plan, which also considers the impact of worm treatments on the grazing environment, to preserve their effectiveness for the long term,” stresses Ms Timothy. Cattle are frequently infected by several parasite species at the same time. So knowing which parasites to treat is an important step in the process of avoiding resistance. The most common parasites in cattle are the gutworm species Cooperia oncophora, Ostertagia ostertagi,


Haemonchus contortus, and lungworm Dictyocaulus viviparus. All of these species can inhibit livestock growth and reduce productivity.

Understanding resistance Co-infection with Cooperia and Ostertagia can cause a larger reduction in growth rates in calves than either species does individually, so it is important to address both in control programmes. Their lifecycles are broadly similar, but their sensitivity to commonly-used anthelmintics varies. Producers should work with their vet or animal health adviser to identify the type of parasites present on farm, as well as the level of burden, to create a suitable control plan. Ms Timothy says that it’s vital for producers to understand the basic principles of anthelmintic resistance, in order to avoid creating a situation where

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wormers stop working. Anthelmintic resistance in parasites is a natural, inherited characteristic. This genetic trait is passed from one generation to the next via the worm genome. After an animal is treated with an anthelmintic, susceptible worms die but less sensitive worms survive to pass on resistance genes to their offspring. Over time, a population of worms may all carry the resistance genes, making them entirely resistant to the anthelmintic. “The object of sustainable parasite control is to slow down the rate that resistance develops in a worm population,” explains Ms Timothy. “This can be achieved through a variety of methods, and retains a source of anthelmintic-sensitive genes within the worm population.” These anthelmintic-sensitive populations can exist in non-treated cattle, as eggs and larvae on the pasture at treatment time, and in cattle at developmental stages that are unaffected by that particular treatment. These populations are referred to as being ‘in refugia’. Essentially, in refuge from the anthelmintic. Knowing where these populations exist can help vets and producers to develop targeted treatment plans and grazing strategies.

Parasite infection An essential part of sustainable parasite control is the monitoring of parasite infection levels. Records of stock performance during the previous grazing season, and comparisons to expectations or targets, can help to identify parasite issues. Growth rates in calves and heifers in their first and second grazing season are useful indicators of parasite burden – cattle that fail to meet growth targets may have a high parasite challenge. Cattle should be weighed regularly in order to track progress. Anthelmintic treatment of livestock behind target can result in significant improvements in weight gain at the end of the grazing season, together with reduced pasture contamination by removing eggproducing adult worms. Where resistance is suspected, tests can establish whether an anthelmintic is working. A faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) can be performed by a diagnostic lab from a sample of dung, submitted through the farm’s vet or animal health adviser. If the test does not show a reduction in worm eggs after treatment, there is likely to be some resistance on the farm and a different class of anthelmintic may be required. It’s important to report any such cases of suspected lack of efficacy to anthelmintics to the manufacturer of the product used. During the grazing season, anthelmintics can be targeted to individuals that are identified as carrying a high parasite burden. This reduces pasture contamination with parasite eggs, which subsequently reduces parasitic infections in cattle later in the year. Faecal egg count (FEC) tests are useful to determine if groups of animals are contributing to pasture contamination. Within this group, performance against weight targets can be used to identify individuals to be treated. Leaving some individuals untreated will preserve some worms in refugia. Good pasture management, including grazing of

Selection for anthelmintic resistance in a population of worms

aftermaths and avoiding overstocking, are also effective methods to reduce the need for anthelmintic treatments and maintain a good population of anthelmintic-sensitive worms.

Quarantine treatment When animals carrying resistant worms are moved from one location to another, it encourages gene flow between populations and, without appropriate quarantine, inherited resistance traits will be spread from one field or farm to another. It is vital that all bought-in cattle are treated with an anthelmintic to remove all potential parasites, before turn out. The effect of quarantine treatments can be assessed by a post-treatment FEC test. If positive, the animal should be treated with a compound from a different class. After quarantine, these ‘new’ cattle should be grazed on pasture contaminated with the resident parasite population to ensure any resistant worms are mixed with those with susceptible genes. “These simple measures can be taken by all producers,” says Ms Timothy. “The farm vet or animal health adviser can help create a well-designed parasite control programme. This will help to prevents outbreaks of parasitic disease by treating the correct animals, at the right time. It will protect productivity and profitability, and it will help to avoid – or slow down – the development of resistant parasites. “It is vital that we take action now, to protect our ability to treat parasites in the future.” l

Sioned Timothy: “These simple measures can be taken by all producers” cowmanagement AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019

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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

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NMR supports Red Tractor scheme NMR is encouraging producers to adopt robust testing schemes to support Red Tractor’s new standards on endemic disease control. All Red Tractor dairy farms, which account for around 97% of UK units, are now required to engage with the National Johne’s Management Plan (NJMP) and have a declaration signed by a BCVA-accredited Johne’s vet. They must also demonstrate their commitment for actions to eradicate BVD in their herds. NMR is offering 25% discount off an ad-hoc, whole-herd screen for Johne’s or one month’s discount on a 12-month subscription to HerdWise for new users. Existing HerdWise customers can take advantage of a 50% discount on a BVD young-stock screen, which includes 10 bloods tested for BVD antibodies. These offers are available for a limited period. “A routine individual-cow milk test, carried out quarterly, will give the best information on Johne’s status and enable effective control measures to be implemented,” says NMR vet Karen Bond. “Carried out alongside a formal risk assessment, this provides a great platform for Johne’s management. “Likewise, the CHeCs-approved BVD HerdCheck, which utilises bulk-milk virus

GeneTracker dates The next genomic sample submission and results dates for NMR GeneTracker are: • September 19, results on November 5 • October 17, results on December 3 • November 21, results on January 7, 2020

SenseHub grants Milk samples tested for Mycobacterium avium subspecies (Map). Map causes Johne’s disease in cows

testing, young-stock screens, and/or tag-and test, provides all the information needed to eradicate BVD and to monitor your herd to make sure it doesn’t return.”

National award

Genomics on subscription NMR is introducing a subscription-based genomic testing option within its GeneTracker service. Total Herd Genomics (THG) will be Ear tissue sample being taken for genomic testing

Producers in England can apply for grants in Round 2 of the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme towards SenseHub collars, base units and shedding gates, available from NMR. Grants of between £3,000 and £12,000 are available for investment in new and innovative technology, with the funding able to support up to 40% of the eligible cost of an item. Applications must be made by September 3, 2019.

the UK’s first genomic testing service available on subscription. Producers will pay a monthly fee, based on the anticipated number of heifers to be tested in the following 12 months. They can also spread the cost of testing all heifers at enrolment across the year. “This avoids big ‘up front’ costs when producers start using genomic testing as part of their herd management,” says NMR’s Richard Miller. NMR is offering an initial 5% discount on all herds enrolling on THG before October 31, 2019. The subscription covers testing, support and a choice of sampling supplies; either tissue sampling units sent after each milk recording or DEFRA-approved tags with built-in genotype vial units. Both options can include a BVD testing facility. “After 12 months we will reconcile fees against tests completed and issue the appropriate credit or debit as required,” adds Mr Miller. Visit NMR at Dairy Day or at the Dairy Show or contact NMR customer services on 03330 043043.

John Allen, Kite (l), Andy Warne, NMR (r)

A programme to help producers monitor and reduce antibiotic usage, developed by Kite Consulting and Solway Vets in conjunction with NMR, has won the AB Agri-sponsored Animal Health, Agriculture and Food Supply Award.

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

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The CRV Avoncroft, based in Kidderminster, is part of the globally operating organisation CRV. This is the second in a series of articles about CRV, to highlight exactly what this livestock improvement organisation does and why.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

History and background information Unique features of CRV Breeding programmes worldwide Products and services: SireMatch Products and services: Ovalert

High lifetime production

from efficient cows

Health and efficiency are the key drivers in CRV’s breeding programme. And the focus on improving these figures yields results, according to CRV’s Jaap Brinkman. “It results in cows that remain in the herd for an additional lactation and produce 10% more milk from the same amount of feed.” TEXT INGE VAN DRIE


t is a standard question that Mr Brinkman routinely asks in every country: “What are the main reasons why cows leave your herd?” And in almost every country, CRV’s global product manager Holstein hears the same answers: mastitis, fertility and hoof problems. “In one country mastitis may be top of the list of reasons, and fertility in another. But the same three answers always come up,” says Mr Brinkman. And this is one of the reasons why CRV places so much emphasis on health, as well as efficiency, in its breeding vision. “Healthy cows last longer and are easier and more cost effective to manage,” he says. “Milk losses are reduced, as is the vet and medicine bill.” Put simply, breeding for health can save producers money. Cost savings are made by, among other things, a shorter calving interval, fewer cases of mastitis and better hoof health (see illustration). “CRV is one of the few companies worldwide that collects data on hoof disorders on a structural basis. We now have more


than 1.5 million units of data,” says Mr Brinkman. CRV has been using this data to calculate breeding values for hoof health since 2010. “With these breeding values, producers can make better sire choices and prevent lameness problems. Curved or excessively straight feet and legs is not usually a reason to cull cows, but lameness problems are.” The breeding value ketosis is another example of a health breeding value with which CRV leads the field internationally. “This allows producers to breed cows that are less likely to develop ketosis. And that can save time and money – particularly in large herds, “ says Mr. Brinkman.

Additional lactation Efficiency is the other important factor in CRV’s breeding vision. “Focus on those key figures results in cows that remain in the herd for, typically, an additional lactation and produce 10% more milk from the same amount of feed,” says Mr Brinkman.

Top 25% of cows, ranked for Better Life Health, had

Top 25% of cows, ranked for Better Life Efficiency, produced

• 30 days shorter calving interval • 50% less ketosis • 30% less sub-clinical mastitis • 23% less hoof problems • 55% less still births

• an extra 4kg milk per day • an extra 240 days • 13,000kg of milk more during their lifetime • one extra lactation

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Big Boukje – a textbook example Big Boukje is the textbook example of a cow that combines both health and efficiency. In March 2016, she was the first cow in the Netherlands to pass the 200,000kg of milk milestone. The excellent Cash daughter lived to 19 years old and, in total, she produced 208,163kg of milk, with 4.64% fat and 3.86% protein, during her lifetime. This equated to a total of 17,705kg of fat and protein. Boukje inherited her high lifetime production from her dam, Boukje 184, and herd great-granddam Boukje 164. Both also produced more than 100,000kg of milk and 10,000kg of fat and protein. Big Boukje’s production is also anchored on her father’s side, with the CRV bulls Cash, Labelle, F16, Tops, and Amos.

“That means more milk income. Ultimately, producers milk cows to earn a living.” Two factors play an important role in improving efficiency: lifetime production and feed efficiency. Efficiency in the eyes of CRV means the lifetime production of a cow divided by the total feed intake in her life. “That gives you the complete picture. Unlike many other organisations, we also include young stock rearing and the feed required for maintenance,” says Mr Brinkman, who also points to CRV’s breeding values for feed intake. “For many organisations, the score for feed efficiency is based on the linear traits for type. We are the only company with a breeding value for feed intake that’s based on practical data on feed intake. We have been collecting this data for two years, on a Dutch dairy unit with 200 cows. And we are going to expand that.

At the end of this year, we will measure feed intake at five Dutch dairy units, with a total of 2,000 cows.”

High components The high lifetime production of Dutch dairy cows shows that they produce milk efficiently. For cows culled in 2017/2018, the average lifetime production was 30,343kg of milk, at 4.35% fat and 3.54% protein. “From an international perspective, the Netherlands scores high,” says Mr Brinkman, who also points to the high components in the Netherlands. In 2018, the Dutch Holsteins averaged 10,258kg of milk, with 4.30% fat and 3.55% protein, in 353 days. “We have been a cheese-making country for a very long time. We have always bred for milk protein. And that is an advantage now because there is an international trend for producing milk with high components. The milk price for high constituents is better.” l

The high lifetime production of Dutch dairy cows shows that they produce milk efficiently

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Advertisement Feature

What is the practical impact of NWF protected feeds? When nutrients are broken down in the rumen they produce gases which is a necessary, but also inefficient use of valuable nutrients. As an animals nutrient requirement increases, rumen bacteria alone are unable to cope with the increased requirements, therefore bypassing nutrients into the hind gut offers both additional nutrients but also less gas production and therefore a more efficient use of feed nutrients.

So why should I feed NWF protected feeds? Three main reasons. 1.



Improved performance – UK diets based on grass silages and home grown cereals tend to be higher in rumen degradable nutrients. By-pass energy and protein is then required to supply the nutrients above and beyond what is capable from rumen bacteria. A lack of by-pass nutrients can often be seen in cows not achieving their peak yields. Rumen available nutrients – grass silages this season have been analysing very well. Oversupplying nutrients to the rumen can create a challenging environment for bacteria, therefore supplying by-pass nutrients is not only more efficient, but essential for rumen health. Environmental responsibilities – feeding excessive protein can be detrimental to both the cows health (due to negative energy balance) and the environment due to higher urea nitrogen levels. Feeding by-pass protein can enable farmers to reach metabolizable protein requirements whilst feeding less overall crude protein and therefore reducing waste and cost.

What are my options? Most usual protein sources such as rapeseed meal, distillers and soya contain both rumen degradable and by-pass protein. The same can also be said for starch, where cereals also contain both rumen degradable and by-pass starch. The key question is for every kilogram of a raw material that’s fed, how many grams of by-pass protein supplied. This can be expressed as the amount of metabolizable protein from by-pass for MPB.

What are the NWF protected feeds and how do they become more by-pass? NWF Agriculture has been manufacturing unique and high quality protected feeds for over 10 years under the ’Ultra’ brand. The three products consist of Ultra Pro R (protected rapeseed meal), Ultra Soy (protected soya) and Ultra Starch W (protected wheat). Using a protected treatment unique to NWF Agriculture in GB and widely used across Europe and the US and regularly tested to ensure their compliance with health and safety needs are met, the ‘Ultra’ brand of protected feeds offer a strong and consistent option for maximising performance both physically and financially. Whilst offering the same amount of energy and starch as wheat, Ultra Starch W allows higher intakes to be achieved with a significantly reduced risk of causing acidosis. This is because more of the starch is protected and passed through to the hind gut. This benefits rumen health and nutrient utilisation. Where 24% of starch from wheat reaches the hind gut and 28% from caustic wheat, 42% of starch from Ultra Starch W passes through, offering strong competition to maize at 56% and of course maize offers a higher price. The same principle is applied to Ultra Pro R and Ultra Soy where the approximate amount of by-pass protein in rapeseed meal is 30% but increase to 76% in Ultra Pro R, and soya at 39% by-pass is increased to 84% in Ultra Soy. This offers both nutritional and financial benefits. By supplying more by-pass protein through Ultra Pro R and Ultra Soy, lower levels of overall protein can be fed which offers both animal health and environmental benefits. Equally attractive is the cost benefits, using current market prices, supplying 1kg of by-pass protein using rape will cost £1.97/kg and soya £1.69/kg where using Ultra Pro R will cost £0.92/kg and Ultra Soy £0.89/kg. Clearly utilising NWF Agriculture’s unique offering of the ‘Ultra’ range can offer farmers both physical and financial benefits this season.

Adam Clay, NWF Head of Technical

To discuss your dairy herd rations ahead of this winter and the inclusion of Protected Feeds call 0800 756 2787.

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cowmanagement AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019

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That’s more like it! Renown pedigree breeder and two-time runner up in the NMR/ RABDF Gold Cup competition, James Tomlinson shares his relief about the results of latest bull proof rankings. TEXT RACHAEL PORTER


isappointing’ is how Lancashire-based producer James Tomlinson described the previous two sire proof runs. But the August rankings have done plenty to redress that when it comes to selecting sires for use on his pedigree herd. “There are a handful of sires across the proven and genomic lists now or this time that I’d like in my AI flask and others that certainly warrant a second look,” he says. “There are more high type bulls to choose from – it’s a welcome improvement. And not least because I was running out of positive things to say from the past two proof runs,” he says. Topping the AHDB Dairy proven sire ranking, which was published on August 13, is the Danish-bred bull VH Balisto Brook, who has graduated from the genomic ranking with early milking daughters. His Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) of £794 is the highest of the available proven bulls and reflects the high fat and protein percentages in his Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA), at +0.23% and +0.12% respectively. Also graduating from the genomic young sire ranking is the new entry in second place, Bomaz AltaTopshot (PLI £766). This Cogent Supershot son transmits high production figures with 1,187kg of milk and 71.2kg combined fat and protein. First to catch James’ eye, though, is third-placed Co-op Robust Cabriolet, who is in first place in the Holstein UK rankings and has 684 UK daughters contributing to his production figures. He excels in calf survival (+4.2), Lameness Advantage (+4.2) and maintenance index (–21), earning him a PLI of £755 at a reliability of 95%, the highest in the top 10. “Just his foot angle

VH Balisto Brook


View-Home Littlerock

puts me off,” says James. “Everything else is spot on.” Former nu mber one sire, Larcrest Commend, now ranks fourth in this elite group of bulls, with a PLI of £752. James is put off here by a score of –1.79 for high pins and his milk is relatively low too at just +316kg. “He’s a good sire – they all are if they’ve made it to the list – but he’s not for us.”

Eye-catching sire New in fifth place is the Mr Mogul Delta son, Siemers Bloomfield. He’s a high daughter Fertility Index bull (+13.1) with good calf survival (+4.1) and long daughter lifespans (+0.7). His PLI is £749 and he has the second highest Type Merit in the top 10 list at +2.6. Sixth in the ranking is View-Home Littlerock with a PLI of £719. German-bred Mocon retains seventh position (PLI £715) and eighth in the ranking is De-Su 12147 Allstar. This son of Balisto (one of four in the top 10) features a massive 40.3kg protein, contributing to his PLI of £714. “He’s caught my eye – he looks good,” says James. “I’ll be keeping a close watch on him and his dam. She classified at just 81 points, but she should improve as she matures. I’d like to use some Allstar semen on my herd.” Ninth placed Cookiecutter Harper (PLI £713) is a former top 10 sire, while the Mogul son, EDG Rubicon rounds off the top 10. A massive 52.6kg fat (78.4kg fat plus protein) helps to earn him a PLI of £709. With +3.26 points for type, he is the highest Type Merit sire in the top 10. “I’ll be buying more Rubicon – I’ve already used him on heifers and I like the look of him. He ticks all the boxes.” James has also made a note to enquire about 17th placed Frazzled. “He’s firmly on my list and I will be putting in Bomaz Alta Topshot

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James Tomlinson: “There’s little between them and, crucially, there are fewer extreme linears”

an order. I’ve used his sire, Josuper, and the resulting heifers are really good. He’s from a solid cow family and transmits a lot of milk. And, most importantly, he has a nice balanced linear.”

Genomic sires It’s the genomic rankings that have really left James feeling spoiled for choice this time around. Both first ranking sires instantly captured his imagination: “I’ll be getting prices – they’re both on my wish list. Number-one sire is Denovo 8084 Entity, who moves up from sixth position g and features a massive Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA) for fat of 48.4kg alongside the expected superb daughter health and fertility traits. Other highlights of this Triplecrown JW Matters son are his transmission of excellent calf survival (+2.7) and maternal calving ease (+2), meaning his daughters are predicted to be easy calving. “He’s out of a Pencol cow too – everything is right with him.” Tying in first position is Bomaz Alta Cabot, also with a PLI of £871. This son of Bomaz Alta Topshot transmits high fat (44.7kg) and good maternal calving ease (+2.1), while excelling in udder health (–28 SCC and –4 mastitis) and Lameness Advantage (+2.8). “I’d say that Entity has the edge, probably because Alta Cabot has a slight minus for teat length. But they’re both superb sires.” Holding their places in the top five are De-Su 14673 Appeal (PLI £864) and Denovo 7921 Atrium (PLI £863). In equal fifth place is another Achiever son, Denovo Invictus (PLI £860). Born in the UK, Invictus is a new entry in the top 10 and, like his paternal half-brothers, has a good maintenance score, meaning daughters have lower maintenance costs for feed.

Sharing fifth place is the UK-bred Boghill Glamour Persuade, the highest protein transmitter in the top 10 at +34.8kg. He also features the second highest top 10 daughter Fertility Index at +13.3 and has a favourable Lameness Advantage of +2.5. “He’s a UK sire, which is always a good thing,” says James. “And he’s on my watch list – again because his dam has a relatively low classification score. But she is a Larcrest Crimson cow and her score should improve. He’s an exciting sire.” Skipping to shared eighth position and Denovo 14566 Crosby is the next sire on the list to interest James. This bull retains his top-10 position with the highest weight of milk, at 1,027kg, and this figure has certainly helped him to secure a place on James’ wish list. His PLI of £848 reflects his daughters’ predicted low cell counts (–28) and the best Lameness Advantage (+3.2) in the top 10. “This bull proof run has seen a return to normality, which is a relief,” adds James. “They’re all fantastic sires – there’s very little between them. And, crucially, there are fewer extreme linears and more balance. So I can still be picky but I have more sires to choose from.” l

2.7 –0.36 1.4 0.15 0.4 0.78 0.7 0.76 1.1 0.46 1.2 0.06 0.4 0.09 2.2 0.60 2.5 0.38 0.3 0.03

1.15 1.37 1.51 1.56 1.16 0.44 1.83 0.65 1.35 1.50

0.82 1.29 2.41 1.09 1.68 1.34 1.23 0.86 0.78 0.17

1.34 1.70 2.50 1.68 1.40 1.18 1.87 0.89 1.44 0.58

0.7 8.8 0.6 –1.4 –0.30 0.5 7.1 0.2 0.6 –0.02 0.3 4.1 0.8 4.2 0.41 0.4 8.4 –0.2 2.3 1.16 0.7 13.1 –0.5 4.1 0.65 0.7 12.3 0.7 2.0 1.66 0.7 6.2 0.5 1.4 –0.44 0.4 5.6 0.0 –0.9 0.42 0.4 7.4 0.0 0.2 0.58 0.6 1.9 –0.8 –0.5 0.34

0.73 0.81 1.39 0.80 0.99 0.54 0.18 0.71 1.18 2.51

0.66 0.80 1.04 1.45 2.46 1.19 0.75 1.58 1.48 1.90

1.14 1.04 1.43 1.38 2.60 1.08 0.34 2.23 2.16 3.26

0.6 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.6

10.3 0.2 6.3 0.8 12.8 0.2 11.9 0.7 11.1 –0.3 13.3 0.3 6.9 0.4 13.9 1.0 6.8 0.0 8.4 1.1



73 +437 +36.3 +24.0 +0.23 +0.12 794 0 –40 71 +1187 +35.4 +35.8 –0.13 –0.03 766 6 –24 95 +651 +42.0 +26.4 +0.19 +0.06 755 –21 –12 86 +316 +28.4 +25.1 +0.20 +0.18 752 –2 –20 69 +452 +39.6 +17.2 +0.26 +0.03 749 4 –21 89 +766 +20.9 +27.4 –0.11 +0.03 719 –13 –18 80 +864 +25.4 +29.3 –0.10 +0.01 715 –17 –25 87 +1063 +24.5 +40.3 –0.19 +0.07 714 10 –22 87 +604 +32.3 +32.4 +0.10 +0.15 713 4 –12 91 +748 +52.6 +25.8 +0.27 +0.02 709 14 –18

–22 –28 –22 –23 –22 –26 –24 –31 –28 –21



Viking/AIS Alta/AIS/Global UK Sires Direct Genus Semex Semex Genus Genus Cogent

2 –6 –5 –12 –10 –3 –6 –10 6 –16


Balisto x Denim Supershot x Embassy Robust x Planet Balisto x Robust Mr Delta x Numero Uno Cashcoin x Robust Morgan x Snowman Balisto x Numero Uno Balisto x Epic Mogul x Robust

+31.7 +31.5 +28.2 +26.1 +29.3 +34.8 +29.1 +25.8 +33.4 +34.0


proven sires VH Balisto Brook Bomaz Alta Topshot Co-Op Robust Cabriolet Larcrest Commend Siemers Bloomfield View-Home Littlerock Mocon De-Su 12147 Allstar Cookiecutter Harper EDG Rubicon

kg fat

64 +981 +48.4 64 +823 +44.7 63 +715 +40.3 64 +683 +44.0 64 +811 +38.8 64 +979 +28.4 63 +866 +49.1 63 +781 +36.7 63 +1027 +42.7 64 +778 +33.0

kg mil k

Genus Alta/Global Gen. Genus Genus Genus Genus Genus WWS UK Genus Viking


Matters x Rubicon Topshot x Cabriolet Achiever x Dozer Achiever x Mr Delta Achiever x Supershot Perseus x Supershot Torque x Yoder Frazzled x Profit Charley x Rubicon Bosman x Sergio

calf su rvival

871 871 864 863 860 860 853 848 848 844


genomic sires Denovo 8084 Entity Bomaz Alta Cabot De-Su 14673 Appeal cd Denovo 7921 Atrium Denovo Invictus Boghill Glamour Persuade Denovo 15158 Admiral Melarry Frazz Arrowhead Denovo 14566 Crosby VH Bosman Bahrain


+0.00 +0.06 +0.06 +0.05 +0.03 +0.04 +0.01 +0.01 +0.00 +0.10

sire x mat. grandsire

fertility ind.


+0.11 +0.14 +0.14 +0.20 +0.08 –0.11 +0.17 +0.07 +0.03 +0.03


lifespa n

% prote in

functional traits

% fat

kg pro tein


milkin g spee d

Table 1: Top 10 genomic and top 10 daughter-proven sires available in the UK ranked on PLI (source: AHDB Dairy and Holstein UK)

cowmanagement AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2019

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ADVERTISERS’ INDEX Alta Boehringer Ingelheim Cogent Breeding Ltd. Concept Cowhouse Ltd. Cowcare systems CRV Avoncroft Ltd./CRV Dairy Spares DPagri Farmplus FCG Accountants FiveF Alka Ltd. Heuven Livestock Intershape Lallemand MediaMeadows Nedap NMR NWF Pyon RPC bpi agriculture Thompsons/ForFarmers Trouw Nutrition UK Dairy Day

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Insert: Datamars

OCTOBER MILKING EQUIPMENT October 4 – Our next issue will focus on milking equipment. We’ll feature the second article in our series on reducing dairying’s carbon footprint, and our regular column from Roger Evans.

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


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PREDICTABLE PROTECTION AGAINST BRD Starts with intranasal administration Protects against the latest BRD strains1 Enables a flexible vaccination calendar BRD is a relentless hacker, with direct impact estimated at £43 per dairy calf and £82 per suckler calf2. Make sure you have proven protection against circulating strains of BRD-causing pathogens1.

References: 1. Phillippe-Reversat et al. (2017) Acta Vet. BRNO 86: 325-332 2. Andrews AH (2000) Calf Pneumonia Costs! Cattle Practice 8(2) 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 Supension 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, strain BIO-25. UK: POM-V. More information available in the SPCs or from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: 01344 746957. Email: Bovalto is a registered trademark of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. ©2019 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: Jul 2019. AHD12542. Use Medicines Responsibly.

3 Respi

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