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V O LU M E 11 N O 7 OC TOB ER/ N O VE MBE R 2013

IN THIS ISSUE

C A L F R E AR IN G

C O W H EA LTH

WIN TER FEEDI NG

Tips on how to improve calf vitality and growth rates

The latest on tackling Johne’s and preventing Mycoplasma

Does adding cheaper concentrates mean more milk?

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11-10-13 14:57


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CO NTENT

FEATURES

Cow Talk Overalls off: organist Roger Evans Avoncroft Breeding Information/ Thompsons Nutritional News 39 Veterinary practice: Mycoplasma 45 NMR Dairy Management News 54 Events and contacts 4 12 18 25

REPORTS

16 Award-winning producer puts the profit back into family business BREEDING

40 Camion continues the Massia line FEEDING

48 Does adding cheaper concentrates mean more milk?

William Patten “We focus on each cow as an individual” 16

Editor Rachael Porter Looking forward

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eifers – tomorrow’s milkers – are once again the focus in this issue, which contains our annual calf-rearing special. And this year we’re sure we have something that’s of interest to every reader. Starting on page 27, there’s an article on the significant benefits of feeding straw-based rations to youngstock – something that many producers have stumbled upon by accident in recent years in their drive to save on feed costs and eke out limited silage stocks. We find out more about two calf survival indices, which have been developed and introduced in the Netherlands, to help producers breed heifers that are more likely to reach their first calving. And we ask if similar breeding tools are set to become available in the UK. There’s also a focus on managing young calves to maximise survival and growth rates. So take a look and see if your colostrum feeding policy is as comprehensive as it should be. A producer to watch in the future is William Patten. At just 22 years old, his dairying skills have seen him turn around the fortunes of his family’s business in just two years. It’s a feat that’s earned him the title of Young Producer of the Year. Find out more about him, his achievements and his award on page 16. And if your ‘future focus’ is on cow health, vet Debby Brown takes a close look at Mycoplasma on page 39 and there’s an update on Johne’s that starts on page 20. See if you could be doing more to eradicate this disease from your herd.

Main article Investment

Health Johne’s disease

Special Calf rearing

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How would you choose to invest a large amount of cash in your business?

There are more UK herds with Johne’s disease than without

COW MAN AG E ME N T

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Pointers on how to improve calf health, vitality and growth rates

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C O W

TA L K

IBR vaccine launched An inactivated marker vaccine, for use in the control of Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis, has been launched by MSD Animal Health. Bovilis IBR Marker Inac complements the company’s Bovilis IBR Marker Live. “This development gives producers a range of disease management options offering greater simplicity and additional flexibility in the control of Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), which is an important part of any successful vaccination programme,” said the company’s ruminant vet adviser Drew McGurren. “With this extended vaccination programme, producers can work with their vets to initiate IBR vaccination of

their cattle with a single-shot primary course of Bovilis IBR Marker Live, easily followed by boosters every six months using a single dose of either Bovilis IBR Marker Live or Bovilis IBR Marker Inac. “Both primary course and boosters can be administered by the same intramuscular route,” he explained. “The vaccine can also be administered to cattle from three months of age as a primary course of two injections, four weeks apart, if the vet considers this to be appropriate. The programme then follows a six monthly single-dose booster regime.” The vaccine is a prescription-only medicine. Producers requiring further information should speak to their vet.

Dairy SQP wins national award Ann Tripney has been crowned Dairy SQP of the Year at the first national Cream Awards. She has been a professional animal

health advisor, or SQP (Suitably Qualified Person), for three years and the judges said that Ann was the clear winner in this category. One added that her enthusiasm leapt off the pages of her entry. Ann works closely with dairy producers in the Lancaster area, advising them on how to maintain and improve the health and welfare of their herds. She specialises in worming, fluke, fertility and calf health. “One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is when a producer reports that their calves have never looked better, herd fertility has improved, or Ann Tripney with AMTRA’s Stephen Dawson (right) and AHDA’s Ian Mennie

that their Bactoscan has fallen,” she says. Ann believes that the work of SQPs is a vital part of keeping UK dairy herds healthy. “We are well trained and are there to promote best practice. I work with producers on an individual basis, but I also host producer meetings and liaise with vets in my area.” “It is clear just how much Ann cares about her job and her clients,” said the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) secretary, Stephen Dawson. “The award was well deserved. Her advice helps to keep dairy herds healthy, and producers’ businesses profitable, by using routine medicines in the most cost-effective ways.”

Give them a ‘cough sweet’ A calf lick, specifically formulated to help develop and support a strong immune defence system within the calf, has been launched by by Cumbria-based company Caltech. It claims that the product allows animals to breathe more easily by keeping respiratory passages clear. “It also helps the calf to relax and sleep better, maximising the immune response and giving the calf a chance to protect itself,” said the company’s

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Cliff Lister. “It is not intended to be a substitute for good management, but it does provide a powerful, natural aid to help housed calves resist respiratory challenges.” Extensive trial work has shown that the product significantly reduces the incidence of coughing and respiratory irritation in housed cattle. “It’s rather like offering them a big cough sweet and can help calves regain their appetite after a stress or challenge,”

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added Dr Lister. The product is available in 22.5kg and 5kg mini tubs.

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Producers urged to cull PI cattle Any cattle identified as persistently infected (PI) with Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD) should go directly to slaughter as soon as possible and should not be sold in the open market or used for breeding. So say the experts advising the England Bovine Virus Diarrhoea stakeholder group, funded by the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE) and coordinated by the DairyCo division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). “Identification of PIs is key to BVD control,” said Joe Brownlie, from the Royal Veterinary College, who is the chairman of the Scientific and Technical sub-group. “PIs spread BVD virus continuously throughout their lives, but may look like any other member of the herd.  “They should not be allowed to breed as

they will certainly produce another PI calf.” The group, which includes vets and scientists, also recommends vaccination of breeding cattle where appropriate. Vaccination should be considered as part of a whole-herd BVD control plan, including regular herd monitoring, biosecurity and identification and removal of PIs. “Vaccines alone will not eradicate BVD from a herd, but they can play an important role in a control strategy in many herds, particularly where biosecurity is incomplete. It is important that vaccines are used correctly, after consultation with the herd vet, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions,” added Professor Brownlie. More information about BVD can be found at www.bvdcontrol.co.uk.

Liver fluke treatment re-introduced The flukicide drench ZANIL has been reintroduced into Great Britain by MSD Animal Health as a treatment against chronic liver fluke in cattle and sheep. Based on the active ingredient oxyclozanide, the drench is highly effective against the adult fluke responsible for chronic disease and – significantly for producers – it is licensed for use in young, pregnant and lactating animals with a 72-hour milk-withhold period where milk is produced for human consumption. “The latest independent data confirms that fluke is on the increase in UK cattle and sheep,” said the company’s veterinary

Make the most of lower protein price The current low rapemeal price, relative to hi-pro soyabean meal, has created an opportunity to both cut costs and improve the protein balance in dairy rations this winter. But KW nutritionist Dave Collett is urging producers to act quickly before the price differential narrows. “Low rapemeal prices mean the rapemeal-derived rumen-bypass protein, ProtoTec, is exceptional value for money at the moment,” he said. “It can be used as part of a strategy to replace hi-pro soyabean meal – with the rest of the ration balanced to match. “The result could be a feed cost saving of more than £700 per month for a 200cow herd currently feeding 4kg per cow per day of protein meal.”

High yields and versatile

advisor Matt Haslam. “The fluke problem is longstanding, but is being exacerbated by recent wet summer and autumn periods. “These have created ideal conditions for this parasite to proliferate and infect grazing livestock,” he added. “Chronic liver fluke causes serious economic losses for producers. In dairy herds in particular there will be a negative impact on fertility and milk production where cows are affected.” The product is an oral drench with POMVPS authorisation and is available from both animal health suppliers and vet practices.

According to the latest BSPB Recommended Grass and Clover List for 2013/14, white clover variety Violin not only has the highest dry matter yields, but also demonstrates the ability to persist in both rotational and intensive grazing situations. This makes it a versatile clover for use in grass leys, says Limagrain’s Ian Misselbrook. “Large-leaved clovers are usually suitable for silage mixtures and grazing by cattle, but not sheep. Violin is also a high yielding variety,” he said. “The total herbage dry matter yield in the second harvest year was 11% more than the average of all white clover varieties.”

A ‘golden’ mixer wagon opportunity To celebrate 30 years of trading in the UK, Keenan has produced a unique ‘gold’ mixer wagon. The first mixer wagon was produced for a UK customer in September 1983 and today the company has more than 30,000 customers worldwide. To say ‘thank you’ the company is offering anyone who buys a wagon, from now onwards, an invitation to its 30th anniversary celebrations in Ireland in February 2014. This includes flights, transfers and accommodation, as well as

VIP entry into a celebration banquet. They will also have the chance to win an upgrade of their current mixer wagon to the one-of-a-kind ‘gold’ mixer, with a full refund of the net purchase price. Attendance at the banquet is required to be eligible for a ticket to win this fantastic prize. To register interest, producers are invited to text their name and postcode to 07786 202909, call for free on 0800 587 3296, or visit www.keenansystem.com

COW MAN AG E ME N T

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09-10-13 11:58


Ketosis: a costly secret Kexxtone: a novel solution ®

You can’t see hidden ketosis. But it’s there. Recent studies show it can affect around 30% of cows,1 even in well-managed herds. Now there’s a new solution to help farmers manage this hidden threat. Kexxtone is an innovative prescription-only veterinary medicine proven to reduce the incidence of ketosis. Kexxtone: 2 • Reduces ketosis* by 74% • A single bolus — easy to administer Advice should be sought from a Veterinarian prior to use.

*Ketosis: > 1000 μmol/l blood beta-hydroxybutyrate

Kexxtone 32.4g continuous-release intraruminal device for cattle. Monensin. Kexxtone 32.4g continuous-release intraruminal device for cattle contains Monensin 32.4g (equivalent to 35.2g monensin sodium). Each intraruminal device contains:12 subunits each containing 2.7g monensin (equivalent to 2.9g monensin sodium). Polypropylene* orifice cap. Polypropylene* plunger. Polypropylene* barrel and wing. Steel spring.*The polypropylene components are coloured with sunset yellow E110. Amounts to be administered and administration route: Intraruminal use. A single intraruminal device is to be administered to a dairy cow/heifer 3-4 weeks prior to expected calving, using an appropriate administration tool. Kexxtone delivers an approximate average dose of 335mg of monensin per day for approximately 95 days. Target species: Cattle (dairy cows and heifers). Indications for use: For the reduction in the incidence of ketosis in the peri-parturient dairy cow/heifer which is expected to develop ketosis. Contraindications: Do not use in animals weighing less than 300 kg bodyweight. Special warnings for each target species: Identification of animals for treatment should be at veterinary discretion. Risk factors may include a history of energy-deficiency-related diseases, high body condition score and parity. In the event of early regurgitation, identify the animal by matching the animal ID number with the number on the intraruminal device and re-administer an undamaged intraruminal device. Special precautions for use in animals: Hold treated cattle in a confined area for 1 hour after administration to observe for failure to swallow or regurgitation. If this occurs re-administer the intraruminal device if undamaged. If damaged, administer a new intraruminal device. Recheck cattle for up to 4 days after dosing to observe for signs of an intraruminal device lodging in the oesophagus. Signs of lodging may include bloat which may be followed by coughing, drooling, inappertence and unthriftiness. Special precautions to be taken by the person administering the veterinary medicinal product to animals: Exposure to the active substance may elicit an allergic response in susceptible individuals. People with known hypersensitivity to monensin or any of the excipients should avoid contact with the veterinary medicinal product. Do not eat, drink or smoke when handling the veterinary medicinal product. Use gloves when handling an intraruminal device, including during retrieval of a regurgitated intraruminal device. Remove gloves and wash hands and exposed skin after handling intraruminal devices.

Other precautions: Do not allow dogs, horses, other equines or guinea fowl access to formulations containing monensin. Consumption of intraruminal device contents can be fatal in these species. Use during pregnancy, lactation or lay: Can be used during pregnancy and lactation. Withdrawal periods: Meat and offal: zero days, Milk: zero days Pharmacological Properties: Pharmacotherapeutic group: Drugs for treatment of acetonemia, ATC vet code: QA16QA06 Monensin is a member of the pharmacotherapeutic group of polyether ionophores, specifically the carboxylic subgroup. They are the product of natural fermentation products produced by Streptomyces cinnamonensis.

EU/2/12/145/001-003 Further information is available upon request or to be found in the SPC relating to this product. Eli Lilly and Company Limited Elanco Animal Health Priestley Road Basingstoke Hampshire RG24 9NL United Kingdom Telephone: 01256 353131

Use medicines responsibly. www.noah.co.uk/responsible

Always seek advice on the correct use of this or alternative medicines from the medicine prescriber.

REFERENCES 1 Macrae, et al. 2012. Prevalence of clinical and subclinical ketosis in UK dairy herds 2006-2011. World Buiatrics, Lisbon, Portugal; Elanco Farm Audit 2011, No. GN4FR110006. Data on file. 2 CVMP assessment report of an application for the granting of a community marketing authorisation for Kexxtone (EMEA/V/C/002235). Elanco, Kexxtone® and the diagonal bar are trademarks owned or licensed by Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries or affiliates. © 2012 Elanco Animal Health. UKDRYKXT00011

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M A I N

A RT I C L E

How would you choose to invest a la rge

The £100,000-inv es In CowManagement’s recent reader survey, we asked how would you invest £100,000 in your business? Cow housing was top of the wish list for 42% of respondents and represents a good potential return on investment. text Rachael Porter

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ot only does the top answer to the £100,000 question show that progressive producers – CowManagement readers – are committed to dairying, but it also demonstrates an increased awareness of the importance of investing in cow comfort, health and welfare and their link to good fertility and productivity. “Producers are certainly switched on to the importance of cow comfort and not just due to welfare. They know that cows that can lie down, get up and move around freely will also have better health and fertility and, ultimately, productivity,” says The Dairy Group’s senior dairy housing consultant Brian Pocknee. He’s currently busy visiting many dairy units that are upgrading cow housing. Replacing mats with mattresses is proving popular at the moment, as is switching to sand-bedded cubicles on units that have Brian Pocknee: the slurry handling facilities ‘‘Producers are switched on to to cope with it. the importance of cow comfort “And we’re not always talking and not just due to welfare” about massive investment here. Some producers are just ‘tidying up’ and ‘smoothing the edges’ in cow housing. They’re doing what they can afford to do at the moment and prioritising by identifying any bottle necks or limiting factors in their system.”

Cow flow “This could be a cubicle head rail, which is restricting cow movement, that needs to be adjusted. Or it could be fitting rubber flooring in the collecting yard and at turning points in the parlour, such as the exits,” says Mr Pockney. He adds that not only will this improve cow flow, but it’s also better for cows’ feet. “Fewer cases of bruised soles can make a huge impact on improving

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Cow lounge: Comfortable and easy-to-access beds are just one vital aspect of well-designed housing

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a la rge amount of cash in your business?

nv estment question hoof health and reducing lameness in the herd. Remember, a cow that’s happy on her feet will eat and drink more than a lame animal.” Happy, healthy cows are also much easier to manage, so investing in cow comfort can reduce stress levels for staff. “Identifying ‘pinch points’ for the herd will also deal with any management factors that cause staff frustration,” says Dr Pocknee. “Anything that improves the efficient running of the herd – be in it terms of labour saved, better cow health or more milk – will see a return on investment. So don’t view rubber matting, cow mattresses or wider passages, for example, as a ‘luxury’ or as simply complying with a farm assurance scheme. There’s money to be made on improving cow comfort and cow flow.”

More milk And Dr Pocknee believes that the penny is dropping: “Most producers realise that investing in facilities that encourage the cow to lie down or eat for longer, or allow her to move around more freely, will ultimately increase milk production. They will see a return on investment. But before grabbing the cheque book, he urges producers to take a step back – perhaps pay someone else to come in and look at the cows and their facilities with fresh eyes. “It’s not about throwing money at the problem. You need to invest some time first and identify limiting factors. Sometimes you can do a lot with a can of WD40 Darren McMurran: and some elbow grease. ‘‘Investing in cow housing is Simply knocking down a next on our list. It’s definitely a wall can provide more limiting factor for our unit” lunging space and improve ventilation. Remember, some new installations and facilities can actually cause more problems than they solve if they’re not designed correctly for your system and set up. So take your time, watch your herd and see what changes you can make on a tight budget. “Once you’ve done that, you can start to day dream about what you’d like to do if you had an extra £100,000 in the bank and begin working towards making that a reality.”

Limiting factors NMR/RABDF Gold Cup finalist Darren McMurran, from County Down in Northern Ireland, runs a 300-cow commercial herd in partnership with his

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Views and comments posted for @cowmanagement on Twitter @farmboy_sammy: I’d spend it on robotic scrapers, a fancy foot-trimming crush and anything else that would quickly pay for itself

@sandpark_rob: Labour-saving investments, improved and ‘easier’ housing. Trouble is, £100K doesn’t go very far!

@JJGBLtd: £100K? I would become a dairy farmer! It wouldn’t be easy, but with help from good people in the industry it could be done

@mattpilks1: I’d spend it on things that give the best return... cow tracks, water troughs and decent fencing

@BritishGrass: Getting the grass right, good reseeds, fencing for grazing, tracks and water troughs

@JoeFrecknall: COW TRACKS! Anything to improve cow flow

@JoeDelves: Pay off some family members, so I don’t have to borrow it. Young stock is where we invest spare cash – and property

@sirbilly55: sand beds, ventilation fans, locking yokes, smooth feed surfaces, transition pens and quality staff

brother Stuart. He says that he’d definitely look to invest in cow housing if he had £100,000 in his back pocket. “That’s next on our list – to put up a new cow house. Housing is definitely a limiting factor for our unit. We need to improve cow comfort and we also need more feed passage space.” He explains that cows housing is already a little tight at the moment and the family want to expand the herd to 450 cows. “We’ve been investing for the past 10 years and there’s more to do. We have no choice really. It’s all about economies of scale and driving down the cost of production.”

Robotic milking Steve Bird, herd manager for Somersetbased Steambow Farms – also a Gold Cup finalist – says that if he had £100,000 to spend, he’d put it towards a robotic milking system or calf igloos. The 500cow herd is owned by the Christensen family and currently averaging around Ed Hewitt: 10,500 litres at 3.6% butterfat and ‘‘Improving ventilation and 3.2% protein. “The unit’s two 16:32 easing cow flow are priorities on herringbone parlours are about 25 years many Scottish units” old,” says Mr Bird. “The parlours have been updated, but the stall work is a bit too small for the cows. We’re getting close to the point where we have to think about replacing them. “Something needs to be done, so we’re either looking at two new herringbones or robots. That said, we’d need nine robots to milk the herd and with the cost of fitting that would take us up to around £1 million.” He says it would be worth it: “The robots would offer a consistent milking routine and make a significant saving on the cost of labour. We milk three times a day at the moment. Cows would probably be milked more frequently through the robots, which would push yields up slightly.” The unit has already invested quite heavily in cow housing. If it hadn’t, Mr Bird says that cow comfort and housing would have been at the top of his list. “We have sand bedded cubicles and the cow houses are as good as they can be – they’re right up to scratch.”

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@Farming_Gareth: I would invest it in First Milk as not going to get an 8% return from many other places!

Ayrshire-based cattle vet Ed Hewitt, from the XLVet Armour Vet Centre, says that Scotland’s Rural Development Programme grants can only be spent on capital investment, so almost all Scottish producers who are eligible have spent it on cow housing and facilities. “So yes, we’re seeing a lot of investment on farm on upgrading cow cubicles, improving ventilation and easing cow flow,” he says. “Producers are looking closely at their units, sometimes with our help, and identifying the limiting factors. Many are installing more water troughs and self locking yokes, and eliminating dead ends. They’re all changes and additions to improve cow flow and cow comfort and to make managing the herd that little bit easier.” Mr Hewitt says that the focus on cow comfort has increased in recent years because herds are housed for longer periods: “And producers appreciate that cow housing has to be right if cows are to be healthy, fertile and productive.” That said, he says that calf housing is lagging behind on many units and he’d like to see a little more investment here. “Ventilation is particularly poor. Calves tend to be put in any accommodation that’s going spare and are often treated as second best.”

Adding value Anderson’s Wiltshire-based dairy consultant Tom Mitchell stresses that producers should look to invest in things that will ‘appreciate’ rather than depreciate. “So that’s cows or land, although the latter can sometimes depreciate. Cows, on the other hand, should increase in value and you should see a return on your investment – particularly in terms of the home-bred replacements.” But, ultimately, any investment should pay for itself: “You need to see a return on your capital. And it’s important to identify the limiting factors on your farm to help you do that,” he says. “An out-dated parlour, for example, could be limiting productivity and increasing costs. Make sure you invest in something that will add value to your business. Not just a big shed or a tractor!” l

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Mycotoxin protection UltraSorb

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Improves fertility and reproductive performance

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O V E R A L L S

Name: Location: Heifers reared: Hobby:

O F F

John Latham Cheshire 100 Amateur organist

John Latham: “When I play the organ the house comes to life”

Good vibrations text Rachael Porter

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deep passion for music has literally taken over the home of one Cheshire-based heifer rearer. John Latham, from Newton Hall Farm in Malpas, has installed a 1,382-pipe organ is his home. The former church organ, which was built and restored also using pipes from other organs, is now located in what was the farmhouse’s 10-metre-long cheese room. John, who recently sold his dairy herd after milking for 40 years, began playing the piano when he 11 years old and then progressed to the organ when he was 14. The project to install a pipe organ at home started, almost by accident, in 1979. “Paul Derrett, a renowned organist and amateur organ builder, was working on the organ at St Alkmund’s Church in Whitchurch and I went along to see what he was doing,”explains John. “He asked me if I’d ever considered having a proper church organ at home and that sowed a seed for me.” “At that time many churches were beginning to replace their pipe organs, which are expensive to maintain and difficult to look after, with electric organs. “It wasn’t long before we found one at St Paul’s Church in Smethwick. But before we could install it we had to take it apart and get the room where we were installing it ready– that took a year,” he adds. Needless to say, his wife Angela is also very musical. Just as well since the farmhouse has been considerably ‘remodelled’ to accommodate it. Walls were knocked down and others replaced. And a couple of rolled steel joists, to help take the two-tonne weight of the pipe organ, were also put in. But all the hard work and effort was well worth it. “The acoustics are amazing and when I play it the whole house vibrates with music – it comes alive. It’s very powerful – it’s larger than many church organs.” He plays more in the winter then in the summer and since he’s gone out of dairying he practices most days: “Or more often if I have a wedding coming up.” There’s also plenty of ‘fiddling’ and maintenance to be done. The organ is voiced and tuned twice a year. “It does take up a lot of my spare time and a lot of patience is required.” John describes his hobby as ‘pure pleasure’ and great for relaxation: “It takes me out of myself. The organ makes so many different sounds, with its 39 stops and 30-note pedal board. “You have a complete orchestra at your finger tips and you can change the tone, sound and volume. The latter means that it’s a versatile instrument and I can ‘escape’ at any time of day or night.”

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Zanil 210x297mm_Layout 1 11/09/2013 10:50 Page 1

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Milk Withdrawal Flukicide • Zanil contains oxyclozanide, a flukicide that can be used in cattle and sheep • Approved for use in lactating dairy cows and has a 3 day milk withdrawal • Administered by an oral drench or in-feed to animals fed individually

NO KNOWN RESISTANCE *

• Use Zanil as part of a strategic fluke control plan * There is no known liver fluke resistance to Zanil in the UK. Use medicines responsibly. For more information visit www.noah.co.uk/responsible Zanil is only available via your animal prescriber or veterinary surgeon from whom advice should be sought. Zanil contains 3.4% w/v oxyclozanide. Legal category POM-VPS Withdrawal periods: Cattle - Meat and offal: 28 days. Milk: 72 hours. Sheep - Meat and offal: 28 days. Milk: Not for sheep producing milk for human consumption. Zanil is the property of Intervet International B.V. or affiliated companies or licensors and is protected by copyrights, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Copyright © 2013 Intervet International B.V. All rights reserved. Further information is available from: MSD Animal Health, Walton Manor, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 7AJ Tel: 01908 685 685 • vet-support.uk@merck.com • www.msd-animal-health.co.uk

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H E R D

R E P O RT

Award-winning producer puts the profit back into family business

Fate and fortune Switching to Jerseys and a change of focus have turned the fortunes of one Cheshire-based unit around – and seen its 22-year-old manager crowned the winner of a national dairy award. All this in just two short years and with no prior aspiration to run his family’s dairy herd. Read on to be inspired. text Rachael Porter

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f you’d asked William Patten two years ago where he’d be today, the last place he’d have said was back managing his family’s dairy unit. As for winning an award for his dairying expertise – that would have been further from his mind. Yet he was one of two dairy producers to be crowned Young Producer of the Year, at this year’s Farm Business Cream Awards. William is the herd manager on his family’s Nantwich-based unit, which is home to a 190-cow pedigree Jersey herd, and his hard work and dedication during the past two years stunned the competition judges. They were staggered by the phenomenal amount of responsibility shouldered by 22-year-old William, when he returned to the family farm after graduating from university, and how he’s turned the fortunes of

Breed switch: William says the Jerseys have better fertility, hoof health and milk quality

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The Patten family William (centre) has made considerable and outstanding changes to the management of his family’s unit. His efforts have earned him a national dairy award. Age: Number of cows: Average yield: Milk constituents:

Nantwich

22 years 190 6,000 litres 5.6% fat 3.9% protein

the business around with a change of management system. It was in June 2011 that William began not only working with Jersey cattle, but also changing his career path completely. He’d just finished an English literature and creative writing degree at Aberystwyth University, when his father Brian became too ill to run the family farm. So despite taking little real interest in the farm before, beyond helping on the odd weekend, William agreed to take on managing the herd and the direction of the business.

Better suited But some dramatic changes were needed in order for the farm to remain viable. “We needed to up date some equipment and introduce new nutrition and health regimes in order to improve the health and welfare of the herd. These changes were needed to increase milk yields and improve profits,” he says. He also had the unenviable task of convincing his father to gradually replace the black-and-white flying herd with Jerseys. “I felt the breed was more suited to the farm and its facilities. It also offers better fertility, hoof health and milk quality,” says William. He already had two Jersey heifers: “And the more I costed out a Jersey system and learnt about the breed, the more certain I was that they were the cows for me and this unit. “But then came the tricky part, convincing a man who had kept black and whites for 30 years to milk Jerseys – not an easy task I can promise you.” But when Brian saw with his own eyes

Tomorrow’s milkers: breeding goals are set to maximise the genetic merit of the herd

what William saw – cows that were aggressive feeders with sound feet and that fitted into the unit’s facilities much better than the larger black and whites – he was sold on the idea. “We did go through a transitional period, so I could prove to Dad that it would work. “I didn’t want to push him out – I wanted to take him with me. He’d been doing things his way for 30 years and then I come in and want to make significant changes – that must have been hard for him.” He had to get his mother Gillian on side too. She and Matt Dykes, who works full time with the family, are in charge of calf rearing and Gillian also does all the relief milking in the winter. “Mum is impressed with the vitality of the Jersey calves and they’re also extremely pretty. What’s not to like?”

Individual attention Today William is using American and Canadian genetics to help boost the type, strength and productivity of the herd, with the aim to produce cows that are able to milk for many lactations and still produce good yields with high solids. “Cows need to be healthy, fertile, productive and efficient. But they also need to be valuable, so I’m looking to maximise the genetic merit of the herd,” he says. The top 50% of the herd is bred to the best Jersey bulls that the business can afford and the bottom 50% are inseminated with Belgian Blue semen. Switching breeds and management changes mean that he’s on top of lameness

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and cell counts are down from an average cell count of 500,000 cells/ml to 63,000 cells/ml, with all fresh calved cows calving in with low cell counts. But, most importantly, conception rate to first service has risen from 25% to 65%. “Our focus is no longer on simply pushing the cows for more and more milk. We focus on each cow as an individual. It’s all about balance between milk yields and milk quality now – the Jerseys’ high butterfat and protein production also helped to sway my father.” The herd average yield is now around 6,000 litres, rather than 8,000 litres, but milk constituents are considerably higher – at around 5.6% butterfat and 3.9% protein – ideal since the milk is sold to Fayrefield Foods and goes for cheese production. “We’re looking to gradually expand the milking herd to between 200 and 250 head. There’s no rush. Our focus is on quality, so we want to do this using our own replacements.”

On-farm processing Williams says that he’d also like to move into on-farm processing in the future too. “I want to do something that no one else is doing and make a completely different product. That shouldn’t be too difficult because Jersey milk is so versatile.” And what about the writing? “Yes, I’d love to get back into that. But the Jersey’s are my first love right now. I’m really enjoying it and the highlight for me so far was quite recently when the first calf that I’d bred was born. It was amazing to watch all the potential hit the sawdust and now I can watch it grow.” l

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Award-winning columnist and Shropshire-based producer Roger Evans has had a good summer, but autumn has thrown a spanner in the works – his herd has been shut down by TB.

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f you took a casual look at our farm, as we approach the end of the growing season, you could be forgiven for thinking that it has been quite a good year. As I write, we have 10 hectares of spring barley straw still to bale. It’s had a slight shower on it, but nothing to do any harm, and if the weather opens up a bit in the next hour then I’ll telephone the baler man. I have to say that we have never harvested our crops in better order. We took first-cut silage early and, apart from a shower on the final field, have never had silage so dry. Our contractor has one of those sets of railway wheels on the back of his ‘clamp’ tractor and reckons we’ve got more silage than we think because it’s been compacted so well. After the first cut we seemed to be on a roller-coaster ride of good timing for second and third cuts and got it all dry with good crops. We’ve just taken a fourth cut off two fields for silage bales. I didn’t put any fertiliser on the fields so there weren’t that many bales, but it’s really pissed off my neighbours in the pub as they only take two cuts. Things got a bit scary when the heat wave turned up, but we’d taken 80 bales of silage out of the ‘wedge’ of our grazing area so, as things dried up, we started feeding these back. The first day we fed three bales, five days later they ate nine. That gets really scary. But eventually the weather broke, the grass grew back in both good quality and quantity and the day that we fed the final bale of those 80, they left some. This highlights the benefits of disciplined grazing and monitoring growth with a plate meter. To be honest, things have gone so well that I know they will only get worse from now on. But that’s just a casual look. Delve a bit deeper and you find that we are now closed down with TB. We have our first 60-day test (after the breakdown) next week. We’ve ploughing and drilling to do, so we’re busy. We don’t need a week chasing cattle. To be honest things are not as bad as I thought they would be. I thought that we wouldn’t be able to sell any calves until we had had two clear 60-day tests, but that’s not the case. We can rear dairy bulls and beef crosses in an isolated building and sell them at a TB-restricted market. It’s not a solution – it’s a salvage operation. But it suits me better than shooting them. The calves make about £50 a head less than normal calves, so you can imagine what that does to the value of a black-and-white bull calf! The pillorying that producers get in the press regarding the issue of TB in wildlife causes a lot of bitterness. I saw a large bunch of black-and-white weanlings, that weighed 150kg each, sell for £75 a piece in a TB-restricted market. That experience would make you bitter. Who knows where this bitternes could lead?

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Rod MacBean ƒ A4 Ad_Layout 1 11/02/2013 13:07 Page 1

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When Rod MacBean decided on a complete modernisation of his dairy farm he set the highest possible standards. As part of his development programme he decided to invest in two Fullwood Merlin robotic milking systems. One year on, cows are happy to go straight into the robots and are achieving yields 25% up on the previous year. There has also been a saving of £30,000 a year in labour costs and a reduction in milking time, with the hours saved spent focused on managing the herd. Rod commented “I can’t say it’s all been plain sailing, but with the figures we’re achieving choosing Fullwood was definitely the right decision”.

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09-10-13 10:31


H E A LT H

There are more UK herds with the disease than without, according to NML vet

Tools to tackle Johne’s head on Vet and Johne’s disease specialist Karen Bond has recently joined NML to provide technical support to vets and their clients for its Johne’s disease testing service. She reflects on progress made in controlling the disease during the past three years and urges more producers – and vets – to take action. text Karen Wright

T

all of these have committed to control programmes and there is still some work to do here.

Figure 1: Average LDY for Herdwise herds according to % red cows

Figure 2: Breakdown of Herdwise herds by % red cows in the herd

Publicity and the widespread availability of meetings made it difficult for any progressive producer to ‘escape’ the Johne’s message. And US research, that paints a compelling picture of the economic and health impact of Johne’s disease on dairy units, should have brought Johne’s clearly onto the radar of producers. In 2012 Taylor, Kossabati and Hanks used the NMR Herdwise data to investigate whether this was also true in UK herds. They found very similar results; cows infected with Johne’s were significantly more likely to suffer with high somatic cell counts, mastitis and lameness. They were also more difficult

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to get back in calf and produced less milk. All these factors contribute to the cow’s lifetime daily yield (LDY) so no surprises when we look at Figure 1 that shows that LDY drops markedly as the number of infected – or ‘red’ cows – in a herd increases. But how far have we got and does the Johne’s journey still look too daunting for many producers? The truth here is that there are still producers who either assume they don’t have Johne’s in their herds or would just

Compelling picture

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hree years ago saw the first round of Johne’s disease ‘roadshows’ take place, supported by the industry. These were to increase the awareness of the disease and to its potentially devastating effects. Initiatives encouraged producers to start screening and establish the Johne’s status of their herd. So how successful have these initiatives been and has progress in Johne’s disease control been made? The answer is that many more producers – and vets – now know a lot more about Johne’s. Thanks to the efforts of milk buyers, DairyCo and companies like NML plus the efforts of the RDPE-funded programmes, the level of awareness and interest in controlling Johne’s has leapt ahead. It is estimated that 60% of British herds have carried out a 30-cow screening test or the equivalent in the past three years. However, not

Karen Bond: “Many herds are unknowingly harbouring Johne’s”

% red cows in the herd

All producers should confirm their herd Johne’s status

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rather not think about it. And many do not appreciate just how many herds are affected. In fact, we believe that there are more herds in the UK with Johne’s than there are without. Many herds are unknowingly harbouring cows with Johne’s. These cows will be quietly passing it on to their offspring allowing the problem to build within the herd. There’s also the risk of infected animals being purchased by unsuspecting buyers every day. It can be many years before clinical cases are seen in a herd. More often than not affected cows are culled due to poor performance – before they show those classic signs of wasting and scour.

Confirm status At the very least all producers, regardless of whether they think they have Johne’s or not, should confirm their status. They can then manage the disease if necessary, or prevent entry and maintain their ‘clean’ status. A simple, targeted, 30-cow screen is the ideal starting point. From here producers can determine their status and work with their vet to assess

Need to know – Johne’s disease • A chronic wasting disease of cattle • Approximately 80% of infections occur in the first month of life • Invariably fatal • Sub-clinical signs – research shows twice as likely to have high SCC or mastitis, five times more likely to be lame and will give approximately 4,000kg less milk during their lifetime • Clinical stages are not seen until adulthood and cause weight loss and diarrhoea. The animal will invariably die • Economic loss but also welfare issues.

the best way of managing this disease. Our aim as an industry is to see a big increase in UK herds getting to this stage if we are to begin to manage this disease in our national herd. There is still some way to go. On a positive note, the number of herds enrolled on Herdwise has increased five fold in the past three years to more than 1,000. These herds are screening cows quarterly using the NMR recording samples. This reliable and regular data means they and their vets can make targeted management decisions and in

doing so they are controlling Johne’s in their herds.

Positive moves Looking at Herdwise data we can see some encouraging developments in Johne’s control. A total of 67% of herds have less than 5% red cows, with almost 40% of these having less than 2% red cows, as shown in Figure 2. This shows that although Johne’s disease is present in these herds, it is at a relatively low level which makes separate management of these infected animals during risk periods realistic and practical. More good news is that Herdwise herds – those taking active control procedures – are tightening up biosecurity. In 2011, 25.1% of red cows found were purchased animals rather than home bred. In 2012 this percentage fell to 23% and in 2013 the figure is 21.1% to date. Hopefully this trend will continue as producers become increasingly aware of the information they need from vendors to make informed buying decisions.

No excuses The tools available to producers to facilitate Johne’s management are ever improving. There’s little room for excuses for producers not managing the disease. NMR now provides an automated 30-cow selection tool, which will pick the most appropriate cows to test in the ad-hoc or routine 30-cow screen. Milk records can be used to identify the ‘best’ cows to test based on their health and production data. Apart from making life easier for the producer and vet, it is a far more accurate means of screening cows for Johne’s. So huge strides in Johne’s control have been made, but there’s still some way to go. We do have the tools to deal with it so those producers and their vets who haven’t taken any action need to get together and tackle Johne’s head on. l

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‘I was prompted to employ Dairy Management Systems because of their reputation in the sector and the good work they’ve done for other dairy producers’ Tom King Vortex Holsteins Ltd Winner RABDF Gold Cup 2011

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BREEDING INFORMATION

Gofast: CRV’s genomic to daughter-proven success In August 2010 genomically selected InSire bull Newhouse Gofast (Goldwyn x O Man x Addison) was ranked in the top 10 genomic bulls available from CRV. Looking at the performance of his family members, it was no wonder that Gofast was a very promising young bull. Newhouse Gofast is out of a very productive, long lasting cow family – the Sneekers. Bulls like Newhouse Banker and Newhouse Ricky also originate from this hardworking, no-nonsense family. The genomic test of Newhouse Gofast was positive on all sides, with lots of milk and really good conformation. Gofast also scored well on his health traits, fertility, udder health

and somatic cell count for example. In August 2013 he has made an impressive debut with 214 milking daughters. His figures are all round on a high level with positive milk solids: +267kg of milk, +17.1kg +0.08% fat and 13.8kg +0.06% protein, PLI £164. His conformation traits are phenomenal with frame 112, dairy strength 110, udder 114, feet & legs 107 and total score 115. Gofast is an excellent calving ease bull (109) with a positive Fertility Index of +1.8, udder health 104, is –13 for somatic cell count and has a great longevity score of +462 days. Gofast is available from Avoncroft priced at £22 per straw (£17 for 50+ straws). Call Avoncroft for free on 0800 7831880.

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100-tonne cows: legs more important than udders CRV has conducted a major study of more than 910,000 animals, on a large number of different farms, with only bulls who have actually sired daughters that produced more than 100 tonnes of milk included. The figures clearly show that the bulls’ excellent breeding values for the crucial components are the deciding factor in high lifetime production. Producers who breed consistently for the main breeding values such as NVI (the Dutch total merit index), longevity, udder health and legs establish those components in their herds. One hundred tonners generally have excellent legs and udders which certainly contribute to a cow’s ability to lead a long productive life. Choosing the right bulls for your herd is the first step towards a potential 100 tonner. For your copy of ‘The story behind 100-tonne cows: facts and fiction’, call 0800 7831880.

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Calf survival: a new breeding tool is reducing mortality rates in Dutch herds. Page 28 Heifer nutrition: straw-based diets can be the best option for growing girls. Page 30 Back to basics: tips to help ensure that your heifers make it to their first calving. Page 32

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Breeding for ‘liveability’ has a role to play in successful heifer rearing

Genetic link to calf survival Dutch producers are improving survival rates when selecting sires thanks to two calf-focused indices. Are similar tools set to be introduced in the UK to help reduce calf mortality? We spoke to two leading geneticists to find out more. text Rachael Porter

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utch figures show that between 6% and 7% of heifer calves die before they reach 12 months of age – a shocking statistic for any country. And a figure made all the more shocking when you add still births to the percentage, which pushes the figure up to as high as 15%. UK calf mortality figures also make for tough reading. Research, carried

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out by Volca’s Jessica Cooke and Claire Wathes at the Royal Veterinary College, reveals that 8% of male and female calves were born dead or died within the first 24 hours of birth and 3% of liveborn heifers died within the first month of life. Their work, which reported the incidence of losses on 19 commercial dairy farms in the south of England and

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monitored a total of 1,100 HolsteinFriesian calves born as part of a sevenyear study, was jointly funded by DairyCo and Defra. It also revealed that 14% of live-born heifer calves fail to reach first calving.

Calf survival No wonder, then, that geneticists in the Netherlands have developed two calf survival indices. The Dutch calf survival index – a tool to measure the likelihood that a sire’s calf will be live from three days to 12 months – was introduced in the Netherlands in the latest August proof run. This complements a calf ‘liveability’ index that was introduced there 12 years ago. This indicates the likelihood that a calf will be born alive and survive for at least 24 hours. “This was possible for us due to

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Marco Winters: “There’s not enough available data to develop a UK index”

Mathijs van Pelt: “Mortality between 12 and 24 months of age is low”

our comprehensive identification and registration system,” explains CRV senior researcher Mathijs van Pelt, who works in the organisation’s animal evaluation unit. “We know every movement that every animal makes and it’s easy to gather data on calf survivability in relation to their sires.” He adds that the data is then corrected for seasonal and husbandry variation.’

it’s vital that he looks at management first. Breeding is not a panacea, but it will help to increase the probability that a heifer will make it to first calving.” Mr van Pelt says that both indices have highlighted quite a wide variation between sires. “The standard deviation for calf survivability up to 12 months old is 2.5%, or four points, and for liveability it’s 3%, so a difference between two bulls of eight points is actually quite considerable.” This survivability index is yet to be incorporated into the NVI – the Dutch equivalent of PLI. The birth index that

Wide variation “Heritability is only 1%, so if a producer has a problem with calf mortality then

Breeding tool: Dutch producers can select sires whose daughters are more likely to make it to first calving.

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was introduced in 2012 includes liveability, or still birth, and calving ease so that has been added to the NVI calculation. “Still birth has the greater weighting. It’s economically more damaging to a herd and business than a difficult calving, which will often still result in a live and healthy calf,” adds Mr van Pelt. The good news is that if a heifer makes it to 12 months old then she’s extremely likely to make it to two years and calve successfully. “Data from Dutch herds shows that mortality between 12 and 24 months is low – around 2%.”

LImited data But indices similar to those introduced in the Netherlands would be difficult to develop in the UK at the moment, according to Marco Winters, DairyCo breeding+ geneticist. “We have looked at both heifer survival index, the likelihood that she’ll reach calving age, and calf liveability or still birth in some detail in the UK, as part of the much wider ‘Expanding Indices Project’,” he says. This aimed to widen the selection objectives to include calving ease, udder health and longevity. “We looked at calf survivability based on the data already collected as part of the calving surveys picked up through milk recording, which just asked if calves were born alive or dead. And some data was added to this using BCMS. The good news was that the project found genetic variation, but unfortunately the amount of data available on individual sires was limited. “We also looked at BCMS data to see if there was enough there to determine the likelihood of a heifer reaching calving age. Although this showed great promise there just wasn’t enough information available. It’s not compulsory to include the sire identity when registering a birth with BCMS and that makes things tricky.” Mr Winters says that’s a shame: “Calf and heifer survivability are not a huge deal compared to some of the other traits that are included in PLI, but if a producer is going to invest in rearing a heifer they’d feel happier if they knew there was a strong chance she was going to make it to first calving.” For this reason, he urges producers to fill in the sire column when registering calf births. “Producers could help to progress this index if they give BCMS this information and, ultimately, it’s producers who will benefit.” l

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More control of heifer growth rates and better health and longevity

Straw switch has benefits Tight forage supplies saw many producers switch to feeding

with surprisingly positive results. We spoke to a nutritionist

heifer performance, backed by university research, have led many producers to stick with straw-based rearing systems. Others have decided to make the change even when forage is plentiful.

and two producers to find out more.

Control growth

heifers with straw-based rations in winter 2012 – and

text Rachael Porter

S

witching replacement heifers onto straw-based rations has proved to be a successful strategy

to help preserve limited silage stocks. And, according to KW nutritionist Mark Scott, tangible improvements in

“Straw-based heifer rearing makes it much easier to control growth rates, reducing the risk of heifers becoming over-fat and improving health and longevity once in the herd,” he says. “Research has also shown a significant reduction in white line and sole lesions

Good growth after switch to straw-based diet Like many with limited forage stocks in winter 2012, Lancashire-based producer Andrew Deacon moved youngstock onto a straw-based ration to maximise silage availability for the milking herd. Supplemented with KW’s Precision Lifetime Rearer 20 blend, the new diet was a great success, and straw-based rations are set to be fed to heifers again this winter. “We’ve been increasing cow numbers, mostly through using sexed semen and rearing more heifers, so we’ve got

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around 300 youngstock on the farm in addition to the 340 cows,” he explains. “The extra buildings we’ve taken on to accommodate the additional heifers work best as straw yards, so the drier ration is ideal.” Run in conjunction with his mother and four full-time staff, plus part-time help when needed, the herd at Boyes Farm, Leyland, is currently averaging 11,000 litres per cow. Heifer age at calving is around 27 months, with the target of 24 months not far away. “The heifers have done really well on the

OCTO BER/N O VE MB E R

straw and blend and I’m very pleased with the results,” says Mr Deacon. “They’re well grown, on target and seem to be more uniform in size. “Getting the supplementation right is the key, and this year we’ve switched to maize gluten now that it’s available again, plus a vitamin and mineral supplement, so we’ll see how that performs. “The system is a little more expensive than using silage, but for us it works well, we can use the silage to feed extra cows, and it’s definitely something we’re going to stick with.”

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On target with straw-plus-blend system Farming in Cleveland and North Yorkshire, the Dugdale family has been rearing replacements on straw-based diets for the past five years, with around 110 heifers entering the block calving herd each autumn. Well grown for bulling at 15 months and calving in ideal condition at 24 months, heifers are now healthier and better adapted to life in the Crathorne Farm’s milking herd. “We used to give heifers the lower quality grass silage not fed to the milking herd, but they often struggled to gain weight,” explains Joe Dugdale. “They were also housed in straw yards for the winter and the wet silage tended to produce loose dung.” The switch to straw, supplemented with a 20% crude protein youngstock blend,

target target growth rate liveweight (kg/d) (kg) birth to 5 weeks 5 weeks to 4 months 4 months to 10 months 10 months to 12 months 12 months to 15 months 15 months to 22 months 22 months to calving

0.55-0.70 0.80-0.85 0.70-0.75 0.85 0.85 0.85 0.65

65 145 265 320 390 575 610

immediately cleaned up living conditions. And a recent change to cubicle housing pre-calving means heifers now enter the 400-cow cross-bred herd both pre-trained and in ideal condition. “Milking rations are rough mixed and fed out with a bucket, with nothing fed in the parlour,” says Mr Dugdale. “As a mixed farm we have the straw, so feeding that to heifers with a blend fits in really well. “Calves are offered straw from a week old. It’s a great system. We still graze for as long as possible each summer and achieve the two-year calving average that we need for block calving.” Joe Dugdale: “Feeding straw cleaned up heifer living conditions under foot”

first lactation are known to experience more hoof problems during subsequent lactations.” Maintaining close control over energy and protein intakes is critical if heifers are to calve at the right size, in the right condition and at the right time (see table 1). And using straw as the primary forage can also improve rumen development due to the additional ‘scratch factor’ it brings to the ration.

Table 1: Target growth rates and weights for Holstein heifers

Cow health

– both pre- and post-calving – when heifers are fed a dry straw-based ration compared to a wetter silage-based one. “It’s a result that has significant implications for cow health, welfare and longevity. Both types of lesion are precursors to more serious lameness problems and cows going lame in their

“One of the biggest problems is too much energy in heifer diet’s, leading to excessive fat pad development in the udder and over-fat heifers at calving,” explains Mr Scott. “The result is an increase in the risk of calving difficulties, lower post-calving appetite and a reduction in milk yield.” Straw-based rations allow greater

Table 2: Options for rearing replacement heifers on straw-based rations

kg FW/head/day 1 straw plus youngstock blend

to puberty to service pregnancy 4-10 months 10-15 months 15-22 months

wheat straw 2.00 3.50 20% crude protein youngstock blend 2 3.50 5.00 energy (MJ ME/kg DM) 10.1 9.8 protein (% of DM) 16.0 15.1 wheat straw 1.80 3.20 maize gluten 3.50 5.00 vitamin/mineral premix 3 0.05 0.05 energy (MJ ME/kg DM) 10.5 10.1 protein (% of DM) 16.1 15.0 1 Feed requirement will vary depending on actual heifer liveweight 2 Fed as KW Precision Lifetime Rearer 20 3 Fed as KW Complete Youngstock

pre-calving 22-24 months

6.00 as per dry cow group 5.50 9.1 — 13.0 — 5.80 as per dry cow group 5.50 0.05 9.3 — 12.9 —

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control over energy intake, with protein quality and supply optimised through careful use of supplements (see table 2). Correct nutrition and growth during pre-puberty is particularly important if good rumen development and fast early growth to calve at 24 months is to be achieved. Getting the right balance of protein is key to supporting lean growth and the good frame size needed for heifers to consume enough feed postcalving to support milk production and continued growth.

Rumen development “Higher protein – at least 20% crude protein – youngstock blends, like KW’s Precision Lifetime Rearer 20, are not only high in rumen-buffering digestible fibre but they also contain high levels of rumen-bypass protein. This digestible undegraded protein helps to drive lean tissue growth,” says Mr Scott. “Youngstock blends are also a popular choice for those looking for flexibility and improved cashflow. Smaller loads can be delivered when needed, are easier to store and require less capital to be tied up in bulk loads of straights.” Add in the fact that a 200-cow herd could save nearly 400 tonnes of grass silage – equivalent to around nine hectares cut three times – by switching heifers onto straw plus a blend, and it’s easy to see how the benefits start to mount up. “If you want the best control over heifer growth and nutrition, the best performance post-calving and the best return on rearing costs, it really is the only choice,” he adds. l

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Get your heifers off to a good start and calving down at 24 months old

Colostrum and clear targets Follow best practice – from birth through to service – and maximise the chances of your heifers reaching first calving. We have some tips and pointers from a leading calf nutritionist, as well as a producer who’s having considerable heifer rearing success. text Rachael Porter

E

very year 14% of heifers of liveborn heifers fail to reach first calving. Add that to the 8% of calves born dead or that die within the first 24 hours and the figure is even more shocking. The good news is that these high levels of losses can be reduced by improved management practices at key times to protect calf health and improve heifer growth rates. Just a few easy steps to help reduce early losses at and around calving include improving observation of the

calving pen to ensure animals requiring assistance get adequate and timely help. It’s also important to make records of cows expecting twins so that adequate calving assistance can also be given to these animals. And ensure that heifers have an adequate body weight and frame size at first service – but are not too fat at calving – to help reduce calving problems. Colostrum should be the focus of attention immediately after birth, according to Volac’s Jessica Cooke. “Colostrum is the fuel of life, that’s a

Jessica Cooke: “Colostrum should be the focus immediately after birth”

well-known factor, and it is, without doubt, the cornerstone to all successful calf rearing enterprises,” she says.

Passive immunity Colostrum not only helps to protect the young calf against diseases for the first

Best start: colostrum protects the young calf from disease and also provides essential nutrients for growth and development

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colostrum – the essentials

why?

1. Collect colostrum from the first milking and within six hours post calving 2. Test colostrum quality with a colostrometer

Colostrum collected within six hours of calving will have the highest antibody levels Colostrum quality varies enormously between individual cows – quality cannot be determined by eye Ensures each calf receives the correct quantity The earlier the calf is fed, the more antibodies it will absorb Feed the calf as much as possible – the more the better

3. Feed with a teated bottle or a stomach tube 4. Feed as soon as possible after birth and always within three hours 5. Feed a minimum three litres within the first three hours, and a further three litres within 12 hours 6. Freeze good quality colostrum in zip-lock freezer bags – freeze within two hours after collection to reduce bacterial growth 7. Use colostrum from your own cows, as long as they are Johne’s free

Ensures a supply of good quality colostrum at all times Colostrum from cows in your herd will contain antibodies that are specific to the bugs and diseases on your unit

Table 1: Essential tips on colostrum feeding and management

few weeks of life, but it is also a rich source of nutrients that are important for calf growth and development. “However, as many as 50% of calves born in the UK do not receive sufficient colostrum to provide them with the necessary protection,” adds Dr Cooke. The key figures here are a minimum of three litres within the first three hours, and a further three litres within 12 hours. It’s vital to remember that the number of protective antibodies absorbed by the calf will depend upon the starting quality of the colostrum – the higher the starting concentration, the more antibodies the calf can absorb. “A much higher volume of poor quality colostrum will have to be fed to offer the same level of protection as a smaller quantity of good quality colostrum. Calves may be

getting enough colostrum, but if it is of poor quality then it will have little effect on boosting their health. “If in doubt about the effectiveness of your colostrum management, ask your vet to run some simple blood tests to determine whether your colostrum feeding programme is creating adequate passive immunity in your calves,” she says.

Best practice One producer who knows the importance of feed plenty of good quality colostrum to new-born calves is David Woolley. He wouldn’t go as far as saying he’s a shining example of ‘best practice’ calf rearing, but he’s certainly making every effort to perfect calf rearing techniques at Moscar Farm, near Bakewell in Derbyshire. “We’ve always worked hard

to rear fit and healthy calves and achieve good growth rates,” says David, who runs the 122-hectare livestock farm with his father, a full-time worker and some weekend help from his brother. “We have adapted our system to make the best of our resources.” This has meant breeding robust, troublefree cattle for the 200-cow herd and the New Zealand Friesian is currently being favoured for its easy-care and lowmaintenance characteristics. They are also good foraging cows – David relies on grazed grass, grass silage and wholecrop wheat with the aim of minimising the herd’s reliance on bought-in feed. “We look for 7,000kg of milk, but with good quality as the milk is sold to Cropwell Bishop Creamery to make Stilton cheese. We calve in two blocks with a bias towards the June-to-August

Early warning system wins award A system to detect pneumonia in calves two days before they develop any clear clinical signs has scooped the first ever Nick Bird Award. Developed by Doug Fleming, an agricultural engineering graduate from Harper Adams University, the prototype sensing system was described by the competition judges as ‘a simple, commercially-viable solution to the problem of bovine respiratory disease in cattle’. Integrated into automatic milk feeders, it comprises a non-contact temperature sensor situated close to the calf’s eye when it drinks. “The sensor notes the time and the temperature of individual calves using the auto ID on the feeder,” explains Mr Fleming. “It determines a ‘normal range’ for each calf and flags up anything that is out of the ordinary.” He adds that in commercial trials the

system identified calves two days before they developed the typical first clinical signs of calf pneumonia. “At that point, the producer and vet can intervene and treat the calf before symptoms develop further. “Catching BRD early – before it really takes hold of the calf – is key to successful treatment,” he adds. The Nick Bird Award was set up by Reading-based company Farmex in recognition of the work carried out by Nick Bird, a director of the company who passed away earlier this year. The award is for an outstanding piece of work that involves recorded observations of an agricultural process, data analysis and interpretation, and demonstrates added value for producers.

Doug Fleming receiving his award from Karen Bird

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S P E C IA L

David Woolley: “I’m making every effort to perfect my calf rearing technique”

block and then a smaller group between January and March. “If a good cow calves outside this time we won’t get rid of her, but we breed all the heifers to dairy and we aim to calve them within these blocks. It helps our labour and it brings variety to our work through the year,” he adds. Of course the other benefit of block calving is calf management. A new calf rearing building has been operational for the past 15 months. This purpose-built house has pens for groups of 25 calves from between six and eight days old – once they are vigorous feeders from a teat – through to weaning at 60 days. “Calving in blocks means that we can rear larger groups of calves and we also have times when the house is empty so it can be thoroughly cleaned and rested.”

Precision feeding David worked closely with his vet, James Dixon at Westpoint Vets in Ashbourne, on the calf rearing system and, helped by a RDPE grant, he invested in an automatic milk feeder. This saves David’s father a lot of work and is a more precise way of feeding calves. “Calves were in small groups and fed with buckets. They did well – stone and slate buildings

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are ideal for calves. But cleaning out was hard work and time consuming,” says David. “We have also doubled cow numbers during the past 10 years and so we needed more space.” Like any expansion, that brought its own set of challenges and disease control was one of them. “You can manage any disease outbreaks easier when calves are in small groups, but if it gets into pens of 25 you’re in trouble. “We had an early scare with an outbreak of Cryptosporidia. We didn’t lose any calves, fortunately, but we now preempt possible problems by ensuring good hygiene around calving and colostrum management, as well as using a preventative drench. This reduces the severity of the disease and the number of oocysts shed into the environment.” Cows are also vaccinated against Rotavirus and the antibodies pass through the colostrum to the calf. Nutrition is obviously the key to achieving David’s calf growth target of between 0.7kg and 0.8kg per day. “There’s a lot of choice of milk replacers out there and we tried a whey-based powder, but it didn’t work so well. “We’re now using Provimi’s ProviMilk Professional. It’s a skim-based product and it works well through the feeder. Above all, calves perform really well on it.” Calves are also offered ad-lib specialist

O CTO BER/NO VE MB E R

creep feed from seven days old, as well as fresh water. “We make sure the creep is fresh and enticing to encourage calves to eat it and that way they are well prepared for weaning. “We don’t find that they suffer from any growth checks – we don’t want to undo any of our hard work.”

Healthy heifers Targets are clear. David wants heifers to calve at two years old, but he will only serve a well-grown animal that is mature enough – otherwise he waits six months so she falls into the next block. There’s no hard and fast rule. “But seeing healthy heifers grow well and calve at two years old is rewarding and a good start to their lifetime productivity.” Always looking for improvements, David will start weighing calves to monitor growth more precisely. “We now rear twice as many calves and milk twice as many cows with the same labour force,” he says. And although the automated feeder provides an ‘error report’ of calves not feeding properly, they know that good stockmanship is still a vital ingredient. “We make a conscious effort to spend time observing groups of calves – it’s an important part of the system that mustn’t be over-looked.” l

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Jack’s heifer (shown in photo) sold for £3200. She is one of 71 heifers he sold over the first 4 months of 2012 at Wrights Manley’s mid month sale at Beeston Market to average £2300. “We have been using Yellow Udder Comfort spray for 9 months on 25 to 30 fresh heifers a month. We consider Udder Comfort an essential product for the management and preparation for sale of new calved heifers. It removes swelling when used both pre and post calving, leaving heifers relaxed and comfortable to milk out and we regard it as an everyday product for use in our routine. I would recommend it to anybody for transition management in pre and post calving.”

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F R O M

T H E

V E T E R I N A RY D E B B Y

P R A C T I C E

B R O W N

Cattle vet Debby Brown, from Lancester-based Advanced Nutrition, takes a timely look at health and welfare issues that are affecting dairy herds across the UK. Here she talks about an organism that can cause problems in both calves and cows and offers some advice on disease prevention and control.

Resistant organism is a threat to UK dairy herds

Mycoplasma misery M

ycoplasma is what vets call a primary pathogen – it causes disease in otherwise healthy animals rather than just in those with a depressed immune system. I’ve seen a few cases during the past few months and every dairy unit presents with something different. Mycoplasma bovis is the main strain that causes respiratory disease, mastitis and arthritis in UK herds and this is the most common pathogen found in cattle with chronic and unresponsive pneumonia and fatal bronchopneumonia. It is also linked to inflammatory lung lesions. The goods news is that, although it is found in healthy calves in infected herds, it’s rarely found in healthy herds. Some cattle show clinical signs, including a harsh hacking cough, low-grade fever, runny eyes, or ear droop. Others show signs of arthritis or joint inflammation with no apparent damage to the skin. Mastitis can also be caused by Mycoplasma. It is ‘bought in’ through infected animals and is spread – from animal to animal – by close contact. The organism can also be spread via milk or semen. Mycoplasma is particularly worrying because it produces a biofilm around itself to protect it from ‘stress’ and antibiotics. The organism attaches to the host before colonising and adhering to the respiratory tract and the oral cavity of cattle. M Bovis is resistant to many antibiotics and avoids being attacked by the animal’s immune system because it mutates rapidly.

The encyclopaedia Mycoplasma bovis Diagnosis Blood samples can be taken to check for Mycoplasma Bovis antibodies and nasal swabs can be taken to grow the organism.

Treatment Prolonged treatment is the only way to tackle it. Giving animals antibiotics on a metaphylactic basis – to eliminate or minimise an expected outbreak of disease – could be an option on some units where mycoplasma has been found. There are vaccines that will help to increase calf

growth rates and minimise lung lesions, but they need to be developed on an individual farm basis.

Control Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment are vital when cattle are infected. Cows with mycoplasma mastitis should either be culled or separated from the rest of the herd. If milk from the herd is fed to calves, this should be heat treated to prevent the spread of infection to young stock.

Prevention Running a closed herd is preferable and, when buying in stock, make sure cattle are tested for the disease prior to purchase. Good ventilation will also help to reduce the spread of the disease in infected herds, as will low stocking density.

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S I R E

R E P O RT

Full brothers Camion and Cherokee van de Peul: the same Massia bloodline, different profiles

(FENDER X GOLDWYN X KIAN X LIGHTNING)

Camion continues the Massia line

Production proof: 186 daughters in 158 herds (Source: GES/DairyCo breeding+, August 2013)

Camion van de Peul entered the red-and-white sire ranking at

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kg M % fat % prot. kg fat kg prot. PIN PLI +155 +0.16 +0.08 +18.6 +11.8 £31 £156 Longevity: SCC: Calving ease: Temperament: Milking speed: Fertility:

+708 days –24 109 101 93 99

88

103

dairy strength

104

udder

107

feet and legs

112

total score

110

stature

102

chest width

N

angularity

100

112

98

body depth

98 102

condition score

99

rump angle

104

rump width

104

rear legs rear view

109

rear legs side view

95

foot angle

105

locomotion

109

fore udder attachment

106

front teat placement

97

teat length

101

udder depth

108

rear udder height

110

central ligament

102

rear teat placement

99

Longevity and milk contents At +708 days Camion daughters are characterised with a long lifespan. The bull also has a remarkably high score with regard to his feet and legs. As far as type is concerned the scores for high rear udders, strong front udder attachment, the legs (rear and side view) and locomotion are striking. In particular, Camion contributes to higher milk contents and low cell counts. His daughters are born very easily. From Camion you get producers’ cows: after all they have the strength.

40

shares his pedigree with bulls like Cherokee, Kylian and Maniac. text Annelies Debergh

Conformation traits: 47 daughters in 38 herds frame

the top. With genes that go back to the Massia family, Camion

ew daughter-proven bulls rarely start at the top of the list straight away, but in August that was the case with Camion van de Peul. With 270 NVI, the Fender son grabbed the highest position in the Netherlands in one go. And there was a considerable gap between him and those behind him. With his lead position, Camion van de Peul does credit to his background. The bull goes back to the Massia family that is known everywhere in The Netherlands. It is the source from which breeding bulls like Kylian (from Kian), Maniac (from Royalist), Maddock P (from Kodak) and Cherokee (from Fender) also originate. It is very rare five bulls from the same dairy get on the CRV sire chart.

Extremely successful A branch of the Massia family arrived at Paul Huntjens’ farm in Noorbeek, the southernmost point of the Netherlands, via embryos. The family is still in the picture from the breeding viewpoint with an Atlantic cousin of Massia 9397 that in the meantime has become extremely successful on the Delta nucleus farm. The breeder of Camion has for some time no longer milked cows, with an exception being Goldwyn daughter Massia 9397, the mother of Camion. “I still milk Massia 9397 twice a day”, says Paul, enthusiastically. When his unit closed, the Goldwyn daughter was actually sold, but owing to circumstances she came back to the Huntjens farm. “At a certain moment a bond forms with a cow like this. I now flush her once every six weeks, with all kinds of popular redand-white bulls. I think that Massia 9397

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Paul Huntjens: “Camion and Cherokee were two totally different young bulls”

now knows what is going to happen when the CRV ET specialist comes to call.” Camion van de Peul was born from a yearling flushing of Massia 9397 with Fender. “As a yearling there still was not yet any real interest,” Paul explains. The Goldwyn daughter with red factor was then only flushed once. Only later did the ball really begin to roll. “As a heifer she has really only just begun. Massia 9397 is not a typical Goldwyn daughter. She has enough breadth in the front end and has very good feet and legs with excellent hooves. The most striking thing about her is her extremely high protein content. That can also be seen in her genomic breeding values.” If you look at the production lists of this Massia descendant you will immediately see the high milk constituents. As a heifer Massia 9397 produced 8,772kg of milk, with 5.05% fat and 3.81% protein, in 359 days with a lactation value of 122 and she obtained VG85. As a second calver she increased her type score to VG87 and completed a 593-day lactation

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Kian daughter Van de Peul Massia 9215 and Goldwyn daughter Van de Peul Massia 9397, grand dam and dam of Camion

of 13,156kg of milk with 5.41% fat and 4.34% protein. The characteristics of mother Massia 9397 can also been seen in her Fender son. “There may be a bit more milk, but the legs stand out,” says Paul. “From Camion you get producers’ cows: after all they have the strength.”

Fender combination CRV’s sire analyst Eric Lievens decided to combine Massia 9397 with Fender. Why did he end up with the Goldwyn daughter? “This Massia was, at that time,

the highest Goldwyn daughter with the red factor.” He describes Massia as a medium-sized cow with notable milk constituents and very strong legs. “As a son of Gogo, Fender came into the picture at that time as a bull father. He was not the highest bull, but he was free from Kian and Lightning blood. This pairing with Fender was the only good combination.” The yearling flushing provided not one but two young bulls for Paul. In addition to Camion van de Peul full brother Cherokee van de Peul was also born from

Massia 14 (Tulip) Van de Peul Massia 8939 (Stadel)

Further opportunities

Van de Peul Massia 9032 (Lightning)

Van de Peul Kylian (Kian)

Van de Peul Massia 9215 (Kian)

Van de Peul Massia 9219 (Kian)

Van de Peul Massia 9397 (Goldwyn)

Maniac van de Peul (Royalist)

Van de Peul Massia 9617 (Lawn Boy)

Camion van de Peul (Fender)

Cherokee van de Peul (Fender)

Maddock P van de Peul (Kodak)

COW MAN AG E ME N T

CMUK07_Avoncroft sirereport.indd 41

the same flushing. Paul remembers the calves as if it were yesterday. “They were two totally different young bulls. As far as their build was concerned Cherokee was superior to Camion. Cherokee had much more power.” To find the best of the duo a marker test was carried out on both bulls. “However, there was a slight difference in markers. Both bulls scored highly with a number of differences in type so CRV decided to test both bulls.” When, at the age of 10 months, Camion suddenly stopped growing they considered removing the bull. “Owing to his high marker tests Camion was given the benefit of the doubt and, with hindsight, that was the best choice to make.”

In the meantime Camion has had many opportunities on Dutch farms. “The bull was immediately used a lot as an InSire bull on the basis of his marker tests”, says Eric Lievens. Camion also had opportunities as a sire of sons. “Four Camion sons have already been used and two are yet to be used. In view of his high indexes it is possible that he will have further opportunities as a bull father.” l

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INTO TOMORROW TOGETHER Progressive dairy farmer, Emma Martin, heard the science behind our pioneering Immunity+™ solution at the 2013 Semex Dairy Conference. Soon after she discussed with Semex’s genetic consultant Andrew Axford a strategy to use Immunity+ disease resistant sires.

Emma bought the logic, then bought the straws. R-E-W Seaver, Pellerat DVD and Misty Springs Supersonic are now influencing the health of her 1000-strong herd in Bodmin, Cornwall. Exclusive to Semex, Immunity+ sires reduce diseases like mastitis, metritis, ketosis (indirectly), retained placenta and Johne’s.

Winner of the 2011 South West Herdsperson of the Year award, Emma comments;

”Using Immunity+ can benefit the herd in many ways … reducing costs, cows are healthier, perform better, vet bills are lower and at the end of the day we have easier cows to manage.” Why not build a relationship for life using genetics for life? Call Semex on 0800 86 88 90 for further facts.

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DAIRY MANAGEMENT NEWS

Record turnarounds NMR milk recording results are back onto farm in new record-breaking times. Leading the field is the Scottish team with its best achievement of getting a herd’s results back on farm just four and a half hours after milk recording. “We can’t achieve this regularly, but during the past 12 months we have consistently got results back within 24 hours,” says Laurence Loxam, NMR

business manager in Scotland and Cumbria. Despite challenging logistics at times, Mr Loxam says the success is down to a team effort. “The field team, transport and the lab and processing offices all communicate and the service operates 364 days. Lab and office staff operate near enough 24/7, so recordings can be followed up and there’s no reason to lose time here.” NMR’s chairman Philip Kirkham challenged the company’s four-day turnaround a few years ago and since then the NMR team has aspired to meet new targets. Recording turnarounds in England and Wales are on average three days and falling. “We have to keep driving turnaround down,” adds Mr Loxam. “Producers are facing more challenging targets so we must keep our goals high and provide them with the best possible service.”

Diary 2014 NMR’s 2014 Herd Management Diary is now available costing £25, plus VAT and including postage. A popular tool on many units, the diary is in a ring binder making it easy to find and record details. This latest edition introduces simplified and quicker mastitis recording. A grid means that the affected quarter(s) can be clearly noted alongside treatment given. Vets and producers can use this information to help identify the pathogen, cause of infection and any trends. To order a copy contact Customer Services, 0844 7255567 or customerservices@nmr.co.uk.

100-tonne cows

PD takes off Around 15% of NMR’s customers have now used its PD testing service just four months after its launch. Using a preserved milk sample, collected through the normal recording service, ELISA technology is used to detect Pregnancy Associated Glycoprotiens – or PAGs – which are present in pregnant animals from 35 days post service. “The test has lived up to expectations with an accuracy rate of 97%,” says

NMR’s Justin Frankfort. “Producers are typically testing cows at 60 days post calving, but some are starting to use it earlier in the pregnancy. We recently tested 1,200 milk samples from a seasonal calving herd at approximately 130 days post service so non-pregnant cows – of which there were only 100 – could be managed differently. Soon to be launched is an ad-hoc PD service for testing between recordings and for cows not recorded with NMR.

NMR-recorded cows achieving lifetime yields above 100 tonnes during July and August 2013 have been published on NMR’s website. Ranked on lifetime daily yield, here are the top three. 1. Pancross Megan, 110,296kg of milk in six lactations. LDY 34.23kg/day. Owned by V J Thomas and Son, Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan. 2. Thameshead Merchant Aphrodite 21. 105,361kg of milk in seven lactations. LDY 29.61kg/day. Owned by Kemble Farms, Kemble, Cirencester. 3. Shradale Convincer Holly. 104,852kg of milk in seven lactations. LDY 29.04kg/day. Owned by D A Dale, Little Shrawardine, Shrewsbury.

For more information on NMR products and services contact customer services, 0844 7255567, NMR web address: www.nmr.co.uk, NMR email address: customerservices@nmr.co.uk COW MAN AG E ME N T

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COW MAN AG E ME N T

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F E E D I N G

The use of cereals may be appealing this winter, but at what cost?

Be rational with rations Maximising milk yields this winter offers a chance to benefit from higher milk prices. But with this comes the temptation to increase feed rates and the proportion of grain in the diet. text Allison Matthews

R

apidly fermentable carbohydrates, such as maize and wheat, are key drivers of milk yield and when they are combined with the glucogenic content of the diet a measurable increase in performance can be achieved. But, as Thompsons’ dairy nutritionist James

48

Black explains, dietary changes that affect the rate of the rumen must be the result of an educated decision. “Although boosting cereal levels will be the right approach for many producers, care should be taken and advice sought to ensure that performance is

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not achieved at the expense of animal health. Cereal inclusions of between 5kg or 6kg are possible where the diet is correctly balanced and buffered without any adverse impact, but profitable milk production is only a result of pushing things in a controlled manner. Throwing cheaper concentrates at cows will not necessarily mean more milk production or profit.” Though maize and wheat are classed as rapidly fermentable carbohydrates (RFCs), soya falls into the slowly fermentable category – ensuring that the rumen is moving 24 hours a day. Even though producers have an idea of

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what grain is needed to get the best out of their cows, this does not always correlate to what is available in the market place.

Global trade W & R Barnetts’ senior trader Ryan McAuley thinks that by having an understanding of world markets producers can make more informed decisions and challenge their nutritionist about how to feed their herd this winter. “Weather, ethanol, politics and currency all have an impact on the availability of maize and wheat and, ultimately, its monetary value. The price of soya, on the other hand, has been driven mainly by ever increasing world demand, particularly in China. Every month different variables come into effect and create huge volatility for traders, continually moving the goal posts on price.

Balanced ration: adding cheaper concentrates to diets will not necessarily mean more milk or more profit

Ryan McAuley: “Make more informed decisions – challenge your nutritionist”

James Black: “Ensure that additional milk yield is not at the expense of animal health”

“Also maize production has increased dramatically in the Ukraine, Brazil, Poland and Eastern Europe in recent years, which has driven prices in a more favourable direction for buyers,” adds Mr McAuley. Protein levels in a diet can provide a fashionable topic for discussion at farm level, which Mr Black attributes to the increased management problems associated with the modern dairy cow and the cost of soya meal in recent years. “UK diets traditionally contained protein levels of 18% or more, but numerous trials have been undertaken to show that the modern Holstein will operate at a protein level of between 16.5% and 17%, provided the protein quality is sufficient,” explains Mr Black. “Protein is never usually deficient in grass-silage based diets, irrespective of the forage level. Energy is always the limiting factor and, as such, it usually means more kilograms of a lower crude protein percentage ration will deliver the best response. It is likely that, with cheaper cereals, soya will be needed to increase protein percentage in the ration as there will be less space for medium quality protein by-products,” adds Mr Black. But, as Mr McAuley explains, the logistics of a fluid soya market can be sticky to say the least. “Drought in the US in 2012 meant that there was less soya available from the US for the second half of the season,

pushing all the demand towards the South American new crop in March and April. “Although Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay reaped record crops, the 90-day wait to load boats in the ports of Paranagua and Santos in Brazil means the practicalities of getting the soya out are a mess. “This just puts more strain on price and quantity and until the US announces its final yields from this year’s crops, the price debate will continue.”

Table 1: Increasing RFC triggers improvements in performance that would be desirable in many herds this year

RFC gluco TN DMI milk yield (kg) butterfat % protein %

herd 1

herd 2

herd 3

186 2773 22 32.4 4.69 3.46

217 3052 23.1 33.9 4.62 3.49

243 3295 23.5 34.0 4.44 3.56

Nutrient balance The success of more milk will ultimately be determined by how well the nutrients are balanced within the diet and a key aim of all producers should be to maximise dry matter intake at all stages of lactation. “A highly fermentable diet will encourage high dry matter intakes as the flow rate of material will increase within the cow. If this is coupled with a properly balanced diet then more milk will be the result,” explains Mr Black “A minimum level of total diet NDF is required, of which nearly 20% in all cases should be supplied from forage. With higher dry matter and NDF silages it will be possible to increase concentrate levels and improve performance while maintaining sufficient physical and nutritional fibre levels in the diet.” As cereals are cheaper it will be tempting for many producers to overload fermentable energy without adequate effective fibre, which can create problems such as SARA or clinical acidosis. “In order to maximise milk price on commodity based contracts, producers must consult a nutritionist to ensure that high RFC levels can be reached without compromising rumen function. Although diets will vary with economic pressures, it is imperative that priority is given to the health of the cow,” says Mr Black. l

COW MAN AG C EOM WEM N AT N OA CG TE O M BE ENRT/ NS O E PVTE EMMBBE ERR 22001039

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“We have seen a 90-95% reduction in the usage of antibiotics... Therefore Easy Breather has become a fundamental management tool to our young-stock rearing programme” (Richard Bown Richaven Holsteins) A powerful natural aid to help calves resist respiratory challenges Helps calves regain appetite after a stress or challenge

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Confirming Johne’s status in your herd should be this easy! NMR’s Herdwise Screening program has been set up to provide you and your vet with a risk-based tool to control the spread of Johne’s disease on the farm. For more information on NMR’s disease testing services call

NMR customer services 08447 255567 www.nmr.co.uk See us at Livestock 2013 stand BM161 3-4th July NEC

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C O N TA C T S

SHOWS AND EVENTS November 1-10: November 13: November 20: December 3-8: December 7: December 12:

Royal Winter Fair, Toronto (Canada) British Mastitis Conference, Worcester Rugby Club, Worcester AgriScot, Edinburgh, Scotland Agribex, Brussels (Belgium) Holland Holstein Show, Zwolle (The Netherlands) Royal Ulster Winter Fair, King’s Hall Pavilions, Balmoral, Belfast (N. Ireland)

2014

An attentive calf has her eye on the photographer Picture: Tim Scrivener

January 6-8: January 20-22: February 22March 2: July 2-3: September 17:

The Oxford Farming Conference, the Oxford University Examinations School, Oxford British Cattle Conference, Telford Golf and Spa Hotel, Shropshire SIA, Paris (France) Livestock Event, NEC, Birmingham UK Dairy Day, Telford International Centre, Shropshire

ADVERTISERS’ INDEX C O N TA C T S CowManagement is published eight times per year by CRV Holding BV

Editorial team Chief Editor Jaap van der Knaap Editor Rachael Porter Phone 01394 270587 E-mail rachael.porter@virgin.net Editing, design and production Veeteelt Contributing writers Annelies Debergh, Roger Evans, Allison Matthews, David Matthews and Karen Wright Publisher Rochus Kingmans

Chief editor’s address P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem, The Netherlands Phone 0031 26 38 98 821. Fax 0031 26 38 98 839 E-mail cm.office@crv4all.com internet www.cowmanagement.net

Subscriptions CowManagement is available free of charge to customers of NMR, Avoncroft and Thompsons. If you think you are eligible, please contact: National Milk Records, Customer Services, Skipton Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 4LG. Phone 0870 1622547 E-mail customerservices@NMR.co.uk www.isubscribe.co.uk

Advertisements Jonathan Davies, NMR. Phone 07970 017243 E-mail jonathand@nmr.co.uk Willem Gemmink, Froukje Visser P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem, The Netherlands, Fax 0031 26 38 98 824 E-mail willem.gemmink@crv4all.com

Illustrations/pictures Photographs by Veeteelt Photography, Tom Baker (12, 16, 17), John Eveson (18) and Tim Scrivener (28, 29, 31).

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

Alta ...........................................................43 Ambic Equipment Limited ..........................46 Avoncroft/Thompsons ...............................55 Bayer .........................................................35 Biotal .........................................................53 Birdgard.....................................................46 Boer Housing Systems Ltd, De ...............6, 36 Boumatic .....................................................6 Ceva Sante ................................................26 Cogent ......................................................38 Cosy Calf .....................................................6 Cowsfeet ...................................................50 Caltech Crystalyx .......................................51 Dairy Management....................................22 Dairy Spares ..............................................23 DP Agri................................................14, 15 Elanco..........................................................7 Enegis Ltd. ...........................................24, 36 Enviro Systems...........................................42 Farmacy.co.uk ...........................................47 Farmplus....................................................42

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COMING UP

C o w h ealt h sp ecial December (December 3) – In this year’s final issue we’ll feature our annual cow health special, with articles about shortening the dry period and the use of antibiotics. We’ll also take a close look at farm safety .

Printer Classic Printing Phone 01452 731539 ISSN 1570-5641

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Newhouse Gofast Goldwyn x Oman x Addison

Solid production Superb udders Reliable calving ease (109) Excellent hoof Health (107) Holstein production

Conformation Traits

Interbull, August 2013

Breeding Values GES August 2013

Milk +267kg Fat +17.1kg +0.08% Protein +13.8kg +0.06% 214 daughters in 156 herds 79% Rel

PLI ÂŁ164 Fertility Index +1.8 Lifespan +0.2 Longevity +462 days SCC -13

Frame Dairy Strength Udder Feet and Legs Total Score

112 110 114 107 115

102 daughters in 74 herds 90% Rel

3 Gofast daughters - Newhouse Sneeker 486 (L) - Sneeker 488 (M) - Sneeker 487 (R)

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Cowmanagement UK october/november 2013  
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