Page 1


September 2019


Implications of IHT reform proposals Page 98 Volume 66 Issue 9

UK DAIRY DAY A special 16-page focus on ‘bigger and better’ event Pages 48-67

BULL PROOFS Five pages of highlights from AHDB’s proof run Pages 18-24


Preview of what you can see at this great show Pages 68-79 BE PROFITABLE. BE COGENT

MILK PRICES Pages 80-85

TIP OF THE MONTH: High sugar grasses reduce environmental footprint – p40

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a .., IBR problematic farms drop 14 litres per cow per day 1 .., Confirmed conception takes 17 days longer 2

1) Updated estimates of the costs associated with 34 endemic livestock diseases in GB, R. Bennet & J. Upelaar. The University of Reading, Journal of Agricultural Economics Vol. 56, Issue 1, p 135-144, March 2005. 2) The effect of subclinical bovine herpes virus 1 infection on fertility of cows and heifers, Ata A et al. Acta Veterinaria (Beograd), Vol 56, No.2-3, 267-273, 2006.

HIPRABOVIS• j:j;jMhJa@;l!ViJ Lyophilisate and solvent for suspension for injection for cattle. Qualitative and quantitative composition: Each dose of 2 ml contains: Lyophilisate: Live gE-tk-double-gene deleted Bovine Herpes Virus type 1 (BoHV-1), strain CEDDEL: 106·3 -107·3 CCID50. Solvent: Phosphate buffer solution. Target species: Cattle (calves and adult cows). Indications for use, specifying the target species: For the active immunisation of cattle from 3 months of age against Bovine Herpes Virus type 1 (BoHV-1) to reduce the clinical signs of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and field virus excretion. Onset of immunity: 21 days after completion of the basic vaccination scheme. Duration of immunity: 6 months after completion of the basic vaccination scheme. Special precautions for use in animals: Vaccinate healthy animals only. Adverse reactions {frequency and seriousness): A slight increase in body temperature up to 1° C is common within 4 days following vaccination. Occasionally, an increase in rectal temperature up to 1.63° C in adult cows and up to 2.18° C in calves may be observed. This transient rise in temperature is spontaneously resolved within 48 hours without treatment and it is not related to a febrile process. A transient inflammation at the inoculation site is common in cattle within 72 hours post-vaccination. This slight swelling lasts for less than 24 hours in most cases. Vaccination might exceptionally cause hypersensitivity reactions. In such cases, an appropriate symptomatic treatment should be administered. Use during pregnancy or lactation: Can be used during pregnancy and lactation. Recommended vaccination programme: Cattle: from the age of 3 months onwards. The recommended initial dose is 1 injection of 2 ml of the reconstituted vaccine per animal. The animal should be revaccinated 3 weeks later with the same dose. Thereafter a single booster dose of 2 ml should be administered every six months. The method of administration is by intramuscular route, in the neck muscles. Reconstitute the lyophilized tablet with the entire contents of the enclosed solvent to obtain a suspension for injection. The solvent should be allowed to warm to a temperature between 15 °C to 20°C before reconstitution of the lyophilised tablet. Overdose (symptoms, emergency procedures, antidotes), if necessary: No adverse reactions except those mentioned above were observed after the administration of a 10-fold vaccine dose. Wrthdrawal period: Zero days. Incompatibilities: Do not mix with any other veterinary medicinal product, except the solvent supplied for use with the veterinary medicinal product. Shelf life: Shelf life of the lyophilisate as packaged for sale: 2 years. Shelf life of the solvent as packaged for sale: 2 years. Shelf life after reconstitution: 6 hours. Special precautions for storage: Store and transport refrigerated (2° C - 8° C). Do not freeze. Keep the bottles in the outer carton in order to protect from light. Marketing autho�satlon holder: Laboratorios Hipra, S.A., Amer (Girona), SPAIN. Legal Category: UK:IPOM-VI. ROI:�. Marketing authorisation numbers: 5 doses: EU/2/10/114/001; 25 doses: EU/2/10/114/002.

HIPRA UK ANO IRELAND Foxhall Business Center Foxhall Lodge Foxhall Road Nottingham - NG7 6LH UNITED KINGDOM Tel. (44) 0115 845 6486 m w w

Use medicines responslbly: see For further information contact your local HIPRA representative

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08/08/2019 09:06

Contacts Editor Peter Hollinshead 0207 202 0905

a word from the


Content Editor/Designer Mike Begley  01772 799 405 Picture Editor Theresa Eveson  01772 799 445 Head of Commercial Solutions Mike Hartley 01772 799 532 Account Manager Mark Jackson 01322 449 624, Classified Advertisements 01772 799 400 Advertising Production Justine Sumner 01772 799 437 Fax: 01772 796 747 Circulation and subscriptions 0330 333 0056 Subscription rates: UK £65 a year Europe: £85 World: £95 ISSN 1475-6994 © AgriBriefing 2019 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. The contents of Dairy Farmer are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems.

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Origination by Farmers Guardian, AgriBriefing, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ. Printed by Precision Colour Printing, Halesfield 1, Stirchley, Telford TF7 4QQ. No responsibility can be accepted by Dairy Farmer for the opinions expressed by contributors.


o kick things off we have the shock of Freshways’ thunderbolt 2.1ppl drop to 25p, shortly followed by a similar move from Meadow Foods who partly lay the problem on the 29-year high of milk production this summer. Such moves at this time of year take us entirely in the wrong direction, but if you are in any doubt about the challenges ahead, you only have to look at the implications of a no-deal Brexit in the latest figures from the Dairy Group. These show a potential tariff on cream of 0% import and 37% export, raw milk 0% and 63% and cheese 7.5% and 40%. And for good measure follow that with a look at Sean Rickard’s assessment on p4. According to BBC’s Newsnight on August 7, some 45,000 dairy cows in Northern Ireland may have to be culled to ensure its milk price does not collapse. Compliance That is because Northern Irish milk will not be able to be used by Republic of Ireland processors due to standards compliance rules, and if they don’t kill it stone dead, the predicted 19ppl tariff will. Quite where Newsnight got its 45,000-cow figure from is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt Northern Ireland will need a home for the 800 million litres of milk a year that normally flows from there to the Republic. It’s true some could be dried in Northern

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Ireland, but then where does it go? As Freshways reports, there is more than enough milk floating around putting pressure on prices and factory capacity alike. Predictions are that Northern Irish companies will be okay for the first month after a no-deal Brexit, which takes us into December. Then it’s three weeks until the Christmas shutdown, when the spot price crashes, and then we have three months until the crunch time flush. By the time you read this, we will only be 70 days away from the October deadline, when we will leave the EU ‘do or die’. For the dairy industry, it looks like there’s still a lot of ‘doing’ to be done!



06/08/2019 09:57

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What’s inside? SEPTEMBER 2019 VOLUME 66






Price drops cause concern

Latest updates from George Brown


Maize provides break crop and boosts yields

14 EXPERT OPINION NFU president Minette Batters

16 POTTER’S VIEW ‘Buckle up and strap yourself in’


The latest bull proofs

High grass yields are leaving soils depleted With Prof Jon Moorby


A 16-page focus on ‘bigger and better’ event


Preview of what you can expect at Dairy Show


Market returns are under pressure

86 NEW PRODUCTS Including a new transition supplement







Minimising disease threat to newborn calves Colostrum is key to good calf survival rates Cutting out the middle man on Bulgarian farm

Top tips for welding different metals Badger-proofing is not that simple

Tips for recruiting and keeping your staff


No-deal Brexit will devastate farming


ore than 50% of farms will go out of business as a result of a no-deal Brexit, a leading economist has warned. Former NFU chief economist and Government adviser Dr Sean Rickard claimed the loss of export markets, coupled with the removal of direct payments and tariff protection, could kill upland farming altogether and cause widespread land degradation. In a report published ahead of

the launch of a new campaign group, Farmers for a People’s Vote, Dr Rickard wrote: “Based on the annual Farm Business Survey, which shows on average support payments account for more than 60% of farm incomes, it is clear the impact of lower farmgate prices, together with removal of support payments, would render most farm businesses unviable. “Even though land prices and rents would adjust in response, this would not be sufficient to restore underlying profitability.

Northern Ireland clears talks of widespread cull


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On Farm

Expert Opinion

JULSTER Farmers Union (UFU) has brushed off claims 45,000 dairy cattle could be culled in a no-deal scenario, but there were warnings sending excess Northern Irish milk to the mainland could cause the price to collapse. Last week, the BBC reported ‘senior industry figures’ had warned a cull may become necessary if Northern Irish milk could no longer be processed in the Republic of Ireland. But UFU has dismissed the claims, stating there may be ways to absorb it in Northern Ireland or send excess to Great Britain. This could cause issues

on the mainland, with NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes warning of the pressure it could put on GB prices. Almost one-third of the milk produced in Northern Ireland was currently exported south, but if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, tariffs, customs checks and the possibility of regulatory divergence could threaten this flow. UFU president Ivor Ferguson warned it would be ‘catastrophic’ for Northern Irish farmers, though he dismissed the idea of a widespread cull of dairy cattle.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:28


News in brief BFA finalists

Dr Sean Rickard claimed the loss of export markets, coupled with the removal of direct payments and tariff protection, could kill upland farming.

JThis year’s Dairy Innovator of the Year Award finalists in the British Farming Awards are: Jonny and Carrie Burridge, Norfolk; Paul Griffin, Isle of Wight; Jimmy Pritt, Leicestershire; and Ben, Adam and Sam Spence, Yorkshire. rSee p46-47 for more details.

Crime cost hits seven-year high

“It must therefore be concluded that by the mid-2020s a large proportion of farm businesses, 50% or more is not an unreasonable estimate, recognising they face an unprofitable future, will decide to cease trading.” The report claimed compensation from Government would be very unlikely to offset the losses of farm businesses, and pointed out a fall in the value of the pound would exacerbate farmers’ financial problems because it would increase the price

Maxumtech Fans for Livestock Buildings

of inputs, such as veterinary medicines and plant protection products. But Rupert Lowe, a farmer and recently elected Brexit Party MEP representing the West Midlands, said what the industry needed now was certainty. He said: “For too long we have been stuck in limbo. With adequate support and leadership from the Government, the British agriculture sector will thrive. We must look at the opportunity of Brexit rather than the difficulties.”


By the mid2020s a large proportion of farm businesses will decide to cease trading DR SEAN RICKARD

JINCREASING thefts of tools, quad bikes and machinery has seen costs of rural crime rocket to a seven-year high. Costs to the industry surged by £5.4 million in 2018, hitting almost £50m. NFU Mutual’s rural crime report said it followed a rise in the number of organised gangs operating in the countryside, as well as repeat attacks. Almost every sector saw an increase, with agricultural vehicle theft having jumping 26% from £5.9m to £7.4m, and quad bike/ATV theft up from £2.3m to £2.6m. Livestock theft hit £2.5m from £2.4m in 2017. NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said the last time rural theft reached its current level was in 2011, when international gangs took advantage of a ‘largely unsecured countryside’.

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Fresh, cool air for herdsmen and animals in the resting, waiting and milking parlour areas


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NEWS Dairy news round-up LOVE OF DAIRY rMORE parents are looking to buy dairy products, with a fall in the number of people cutting consumption, according to research carried out after the second year of AHDB and Dairy UK’s marketing campaign. About 11% more parents were certain to buy dairy products, with an 8% drop in the number of people cutting dairy consumption now or in the future. Rebecca Miah, AHDB head of dairy marketing, said: “We

knew dairy was being overlooked as a category, so it is fantastic to see people are responding positively to the campaign and re-igniting their love of dairy.” The campaign, which launched in 2017, aims to remind people of their love of dairy, focusing on taste, enjoyment and the moments that make life better. Featuring videos on social media and on-demand TV, digital outdoor billboards throughout London and cinema advertising, the activity ran between March and May this year.

Adverts were seen by 23.8 million people on social media, 7.1m on catch-up TV, 8.1m in the cinema and 13.5m on billboards. FIRST MILK ACCOUNTS SHOW TURNOVER GROWTH rFIRST Milk has continued to strengthen its business in its latest annual report and accounts, with group turnover up 7.8% year on year to £272.3 million. Operating profit has been kept stable at 2.6% of turnover,

and the company has reduced net debt by £3.8m year-on-year, with its relative milk price also continuing to improve. Chief executive Shelagh Hancock said it had been focused on ‘further strengthening and developing the business’. She added it remained clear prosperity came from building demand, growing capacity, then securing supply. NFU Scotland milk committee chairman John Smith said after some dark times First Milk had made ‘year-on-year’ progress.

Freshways shock at 25ppl


reshways and Meadow Foods have announced price drops for September, pointing to the cream price. Freshways dropped its price by 2.1ppl to a standard litre price of 25ppl. Managing director Bali Nijjar said the main reason behind the decrease was a drop in cream prices to a three-year low and an oversupply of milk. He said: “In addition, any opportunity to recover prices from retailers or wholesalers was dashed due to Bestway Wholesale slashing

the price of milk by 5ppl to 79p for two litres.” Freshways supplier and farmer representative Alan Smith said: “There is no money to be made at 28ppl, never mind 25ppl. Nobody else has announced price cuts. Basket mechanism “It feels like one thing after another. We did not want the basket mechanism to be taken away. At least we would have had the Arla price in there.” Meadow Foods is also reducing its standard A litre price to 25ppl, a fall of 1.7ppl. Mark Chantler, chief

Freshways and Meadow Foods have announced price drops for September.

executive, said despite holding its price for the previous five months, high milk volumes and a reduced cream price meant it could not be maintained.

He said: “We will continue to monitor the market and the potential impact of Brexit, and hope that the market returns to a more positive balance swiftly.”

president Ivor Ferguson dismissed reports that 45,000 dairy cattle could be culled, he did suggest extra milk may be sent to Great Britain. The NFU warned this could collapse milk prices on the mainland. In this case, dairy farmers could need Government support, but Ministers seem to be focused on the sheep sector. I remember sitting in Methodist Central Hall in 2012 as more than 2,500 dairy farmers

made their views, or shall I say boos, on the milk price crisis heard to then Farming Minister Jim Paice. If this threat is real, now might be the time to start up again.

This month’s political round-up JThere’s a reason summer is usually known as the ‘silly season’ by journalists, writes Abi Kay. With Parliament in recess, things tend to quieten down during July and August, which is why you’ll read about waterskiing parrots. But this is 2019, and the political stories are not slowing down. And it seems Boris Johnson is not bluffing over a no-deal Brexit.

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While research published by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in 2017 found producer prices in the sector could shoot up 30%, there’s a fly in the ointment.

Irish border It can be traced back to the Irish border, with almost one-third of milk produced in Northern Ireland exported to the Republic for processing. While Ulster Farmers’ Union

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:28


I’m getting less body condition losses, my cows are peaking higher and I have used 210 less straws versus a year ago.



13/08/2019 09:51

COWMEN Comment

George Brown

George manages 630 spring-calving cows on a 250-hectare dairy unit, which is in its third season of conversion from an arable/beef farm. With a tight 12-week spring-calving pattern, the herd produces an annual rolling average of 6,300 litres from 1100kg concentrate.

This year we ran 16 Hereford bulls in two teams of eight, rotating the team every 24 hours


ell what a fantastic grass growing year 2019 has been, at least so far. Consistently we have bettered the growth rates that we achieved in 2017, which was widely heralded as a great year for grass, and it has come as a welcome relief after the challenging growing conditions we had last year. For reference, by mid-July we had already grown more this year than the full 12 months of 2018, with perennial ryegrass paddocks on our 184ha milking platform having already averaged 9.5 tonnes DM. As a result, forage stocks are looking promising. With the farm having received 330mm of rain to the end of July, we are slightly below target for average rainfall for the year, but the timing of showers has more than compensated for the low total. More than half of this rain has fallen in June and July, which has been a blessing given low soil moisture levels through April and May. An important lesson for me from 2018 was to keep a tighter record of monitoring our rainfall throughout the year. In spite of having a rain gauge in the garden, it was previously purely for interest as I wasn’t recording the amount of precipitation received. This had left us under-informed when discussing the dry weather, having to rely on average rainfall information taken from our local weather station some 11 miles away. By simply noting down the millimetres received in a diary, we now have a much clearer picture of what is going on, and it will be interesting to compare with future seasons.

Farm facts rMilking platform: 250 hectares rHerd: 630 spring-calvers rYoungstock platform: 110ha rParlour: 44:88 Waikato rMilk: Arla TSDG contract

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In what feels like an achievement for a farm milking 600 spring-calving cows in the East Midlands, we have only had to feed seven bales of silage to the milkers this summer. Ironically this was caused by wet weather meaning grazing plans had to be changed last minute, as cows were diverted into some low grass covers that were well-accessed by hard tracks. This aside, instead of feeding silage we have been quick to respond to any sign of a deficit by altering cake feeding levels in the parlour, and have grazed half of what would have been third cut silage to drop our demand on the milking platform. The quality of this has been variable, but the cows have milked well and done a reasonable job chewing out some heavy pre-grazing covers. Rolling milk from forage figures have been rising, as we look to get this figure back up to 4,000 litres. The weather has of course played a part in this, as has our herd’s maturing age profile, with only 22% of the cows being in their first lactation this year. Milk quality has now also corrected to be better than last year’s levels, after struggling this spring with butter fats being 0.4% down on March and April last year.  Bulls were taken out from the cows at the end of July to conclude our 12-week mating period. This year we ran 16 Hereford bulls in two teams of eight, rotating the team every 24 hours.  Every milking the bulls were segregated from the cows as they came towards the collecting yard, and drafted into a shed for some cow cake and a rest on a bed of straw. Although at first this was labour intensive, within a week the bulls had learned the By mid-July George Brown had already grown more grass this year than the whole of 2018.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:32


procedure and would head straight to the sorting gate, wanting to get some feed. For one thing, we were keen to reduce the amount of time bulls spent stood on the yard in order to minimise lameness, and for another we were keen to eliminate the possibility of bulls serving cows stood on concrete. This was something which we believed to be particularly essential given the relatively large number of beef bulls we had working in each team. Herd scan As yet we don’t have any scanning information, and will instead opt for one whole herd scan in early September. Our three weeks submission rate was just below target, with 85% of the herd served in the first 21 days of mating, but by the end of six weeks of AI, 97% of cows had been served. It was then left to the bulls to sweep up any stragglers and repeats, and it looked as though bulling activity tailed off towards the final three weeks of breeding. This season saw us trialling sexed semen on the cows for the first time. Our none-return rates suggest

we still have some way to go in managing how we use this product, with it appearing that conception rates will be about 20% lower than on our conventional straws. We were pro-active with our cow selection for animals to be bred to sexed semen, only using it on early calving animals which had been free of any problems in early lactation and which were having strong heats. Frustratingly most of them returned for another strong heat 21 days after being inseminated. Dabbling with sexed semen, while simultaneously stabilising cow numbers on the farm, also presented us with the opportunity to be more selective with the animals we have mated to dairy semen. The bottom 10% of the herd were mated to beef from the start of mating, with this group selected as being any animal that produced under 400kg of milk solids last year when adjusted for age, as well as cows with poorer udders and feet. If we can improve our conception rates to sexed semen, it is hoped we will be able to be increasingly selective with this group of animals, reducing the number of dairy calves while driving herd improvement. 

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Maize provides break crop a Milk producer Chris Stockdale estimates that the addition of maize silage to the dairy cow diet has lifted production by 2,000 litres/cow since it was introduced on his North Yorkshire farm in 2013. Wendy Short went along to find out more.


he maize crop at Carr House, in the Vale of Pickering, is treated in the same way as the arable cropping, with its management following a precise pattern. The 165-cow Carrvale herd of pedigree Holsteins calves all year round, and Chris Stockdale’s aim is to ensure maize silage is available for 10.5 months so as to maintain yields around 10,500 litres at 4% fat and 3.35% protein on twicedaily milking. The shortfall is made up with wholecrop cereals, which were previously the staple element of the forage diet after grass. “We continue to rely on wholecrop cereals when the maize silage runs out, but ideally we would like to offer maize all year round,” says Mr Stockdale, whose family also runs a thriving caravan park on the site. “Since we have been growing maize, it has been included at a rate of 22kg/head and we have seen production rise by 2,000 litres. An additional 700 litres/ cow has been achieved this year alone due largely to the 2018 crop’s starch level of 37.4%, the

Farm facts r200 acres of grass and 200 acres of arable crops rMilk is sold to Arla on a liquid contract rAll cows are given a grazing period rThe 200-bay Vale of Pickering caravan site is managed by Mr Stockdale’s wife Dianne

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Chris Stockdale aims to ensure maize silage is available for 10.5 months of the year to maintain yields.

highest figure that we have ever achieved. It has also improved our rolling average milk-fromforage figure which currently stands at 4,800 litres/head. Concentrates are fed to yield in the parlour to a maximum of 5kg.” Such is his enthusiasm for the crop, he came runner-up in the KWS Maize Portfolio* competition draw and received a seed consignment worth almost £1,200. Soil The soil type on the farm itself is considered slightly too heavy for the production of top quality maize silage, and therefore the crop is grown on a parcel of nearby rented ground where the soil is a light sandy loam. It receives generous quantities of slurry and farmyard manure over the winter. Seedbed preparation is based on the

plough and power harrow, and the soil receives a pre-emergence herbicide. At sowing time, a sub-soiler is added to the drill frame, with a DAP fertiliser applied ‘down the spout’ at 50kg/ acre to get the crop off to a good start. It is drilled at about 40,000 seeds/ha during the last week in April in a standard year. “The seed rate has been chosen because the site is fa-

vourable and a high percentage of the seed will germinate successfully,” says Mr Stockdale. “This is a slightly lower than average figure, but the idea is to increase the amount of light that can penetrate the crop and we believe it improves both yield and quality. We always make sure the crop is sown within 24 hours of seedbed preparation, in order to retain soil moisture.”

We always make sure the crop is sown within 24 hours of seedbed preparation CHRIS STOCKDALE

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 10:49


op as well as boosting yields At the three-leaf stage, the maize crop receives 80 units of straight nitrogen, followed by a foliar nutrient leaf treatment about one month later. This foliar treatment was added to the regime after the first couple of years and has been found to be advantageous. Inch per day “We have used KWS varieties almost exclusively and last year we included Augustus,” he says. “During the month of July we took daily photographs of the crop and were very surprised to find it was growing at a rate of about one-inch per day. The Augustus produced a tremendous crop and made excellent silage.” The target is to harvest during the second or third week in

October and the crop is always treated with a biological additive. “It is a question of holding your nerve as harvest approaches – when we think it is almost ready to cut we will wait a further two weeks. This is not an easy decision as autumn approaches and there is a threat of the weather turning, especially when we are facing an empty silage pit by that point. However patience does pay off and we have never had any serious problems at the cutting stage. In 2018 we achieved 18 tonnes an acre and superb quality.” The maize goes into a designated clamp and is sheeted at the sides and triple-sheeted on top, followed by bird netting and weighting with tyres. To minimise wastage at the face,

only the portion which is to be used that day for the total mixed ration is uncovered. Limiting “We would like to increase the maize area by five or six acres to avoid having a period when the crop runs out – it is not possible to maintain our high yields with wholecrop cereals alone,” says Mr Stockdale. “At present, the main limiting factor is silage

clamp space, and projected figures are showing that a third bay would produce a return on investment, so it has been included in plans for the future.” As well as boosting milk production, the maize has several other important roles on the farm, he explains. “The wheat following maize usually yields four tonnes/acre and I believe that is partly due to the residual benefits of the

Dairy cow diet r22kg maize silage r16kg grass silage r1.5kg straw r1.75kg soya r1.75kg home-produced caustic wheat

r4kg blend of soya hulls, rapeseed and maize distillers’ grains rOther ingredients: Megastart; limestone; yeast; vitamins and minerals

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11 13/08/2019 10:49


Maize has been included at a rate of 22kg/head.

The clamp is sheeted at the sides and triple sheeted on top.

liberal quantities of organic nutrients that are applied for the maize. In addition, our arable acreage is not large enough to grow oilseed rape or beans, so maize makes a good alternative break crop. “The land does not fall within a nitrate vulnerable zone and so the maize ground also provides an opportunity to spread slurry virtually every day throughout the winter. This minimises the requirement for waste storage.”

Wagyu bloodlines have proved to be easy-calving and produce thrifty calves.

Maize silage analysis winter 2018/19 rDry matter 37.6% rCrude protein   8.9% rD-value 78 rME 12.5 rpH 3.8 rAsh 2.9% rStarch 37.4%   

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Drilled For the forthcoming season, KWS Arvid has been sown on the lighter portion of the rented land and was again drilled at 40,000 seeds/acre, while KWS Rodriguez was allocated a seed rate of 42,000 on an area with slightly heavier soil. The Carrvale pedigree Holstein herd dates back to 1953, with heifers reared on the farm to calve at an average 25

Herd facts (rolling averages April 2019) rCows in herd – 165 rYield per cow in herd – 10,500kg rYield per cow from forage – 14.69 litres rMilk value per cow – £2,986 rConcentrate use (kg/litre) 0.27kg

rConcentrate (cost/litre) – 7.26p rMargin over concentrate/ litre – 21.43p rAverage milk price/litre – 28.68p rButterfat – 4% rProtein – 3.34%

months. Sexed semen is used on the best females for the first two services, after which they go to a Wagyu bull along with the remaining females, with their crossbred calves sold to a specialised finishing unit at two to three weeks old. The Wagyu bloodlines have proved to be easy-calving and produce thrifty calves, claims Mr Stockdale. “We have a mobile milking machine and every newly-calved cow is milked within a maximum of six hours after giving birth,” he explains. “A refractometer is used to test the colostrum and a frozen replacement is offered if it does not meet the standard, with every calf given about four litres in the first few hours. “Another routine practice is to offer the cow an electrolyte solution immediately post-calving and animals which have had three or more calves also receive liquid calcium, as well as a calcium bolus. These protocols are listed on a whiteboard in the calving pens and crossed off when the tasks have been completed.” rThe annual KWS Maize Portfolio draw offers prizes for growers who order a copy of its booklet which contains information to help farmers select varieties suitable for their individual farm situations.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:54

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16/08/2019 13:35 02/08/2019 15:40:01

EXPERT Opinion

It’s clear Britain’s rural areas are at crossroads This month, NFU president Minette Batters tells us British agriculture is facing one of its biggest challenges to date with Brexit, and survival will ultimately depend on the sort of deal we end up with

About the author JIn addition to her demanding duties as president of the NFU, Minette also runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire with 100-cow continental cross suckler herd, as well as sheep and arable. She also runs a wedding and corporate events venue on the farm.

14 **DF Sep p14 Expert.indd 2


have travelled to all parts of the country in recent months and, wherever I go, the topic of conversation with most farmers almost always comes around to Brexit. It is a constant theme and it is abundantly clear Britain’s rural areas are at a crossroads. We all know the farming industry could be one of the most affected by Brexit, and we now face an array of possible outcomes that could result in either a thriving food and farming sector post-Brexit, or the decimation of Britain’s ability to feed itself. Farming is the backbone of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, that is worth more than £120 billion to the national economy and supports about four million jobs – and every single person on the planet needs to eat. But it delivers so much more in terms of wildlife, environmental enhancement and climate change mitigation; the greatest challenge facing us today. My concerns lie in how we leave the EU. The NFU has always maintained that we need to do everything we can to ensure the UK leaves the EU in an orderly manner, including free and frictionless trade with the EU. Net importer For example, as a net importer of dairy products, the possibility of tariff-free imports and a lowering of tariff protections could result in a decline in farm business incomes, with some estimates suggesting milk prices at farmgate level could decline by 7% due to competition from countries with lower costs of production. In a no-deal scenario, there are concerns about what could happen to milk from Northern Ireland which is exported to the Republic of Ireland for processing, as it may be subject to tariffs. This is estimated to be about 600m litres annually. Exports to the EU may not be possible if the UK is not registered as an approved third-country exporter of animals/animal products. There is no guarantee this status will be in place for a no-deal situation. Even if trade is still possible, it would likely be costlier and more time-consuming. Product would have to enter through a Border Inspection Post, tariffs would be due and paperwork considerations would apply.

We also need to consider the market access that might be lost which we gain via the EU. For example, we currently send Cheddar to Canada, and this access will probably be lost and have to be renegotiated once we leave the EU. We must ask ourselves: how much do we value our high standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection? Our farmers are not the only ones who care about this; the public feels strongly about it too. Additionally, the NFU has always advocated the need to give British farmers the choice to access the best tools and technologies to grow resilient, profitable businesses and be competitive. There are challenges in production, resource efficiency, environmental performance, food and feed quality and safety for which biotechnology holds genuine and exciting solutions. Politicians on all sides have a responsibility. They must do all they can to find a solution so we can retain our values, safeguard our domestic food supply and maintain public trust in the food chain. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape our future food and farming policy. Let’s back British food and farming. The decisions made today will be instrumental in the future we build and the legacy we leave behind.

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POTTER’S View Buckle up and strap yourself in This month, Ian Potter returns to the Arla proposal to ban the early disposal of unwanted dairy bull calves, and tells us how working in partnership with a retailer is a far more promising route to achieving market harmony than otherwise.

Ian Potter JIan is a specialist milk commentator and entitlement broker. Comments please to



start with last month’s article, and the lead taken by Arla on the dairy bull calf issue. This effectively bans slaughtering them from January 1, 2021, which is a ground-breaking move others will likely follow. Now this might be a costly move and unpalatable for some, but to date not one Arla member has complained to me about the policy. The complaints have all come from non-Arla farmers, some of whom are in complete denial that it is a potential PR nuclear bomb for the industry. It has come to light that there are no discussions scheduled with a view to reflecting the additional cost of rearing these calves to the point of sale in any retailer cost of production models. It is down to Arla farmers to use sexed semen and/or change their breeding policies to produce a more valuable calf, which hopefully does not end up in an abattoir before its time. For those who believe selling 10-day-old calves to a rearer gets them off the hook, be warned. Arla intends to monitor movements, so farmers will have an obligation to ensure any sales are compliant. I imagine auctioneers will be rolling their eyes at the prospect. At the moment, an Arla farmer in Denmark can euthanise male calves, so the policy is not yet ‘one Arla’, but it will come. On milk prices, Arla is taking some living with in terms of a very stable high price and initiatives which shape its 10,300 farmer owners’ farms and the countryside. The bull calf initiative is one of several, including pasture promise, public access and active involvement in Open Farm Sunday. Plus, on-farm wildlife and environmental initiatives, along with Arla’s 2050 zero carbon target. Volume While some of Arla’s liquid competitors are fighting for volume and clearly struggling to stay in business, the co-operative appears to be looking and planning five years and more down the line. It seems to be onto a winner, because it does not have all its eggs in one basket and its portfolio makes it painful for others to deliver and compete, especially on bog standard own label liquid milk (unlike cheese, where there is still a market for farmhouse and bespoke players).

Now let’s look at the woes of the liquid milk market. Arla has recently secured a five-year extension to continue supplying Asda 100% of its liquid milk with an estimated 500 million litres/year. This partnership started 15 years ago in 2004, and will now run for at least 20 years. It is a relationship where Asda dairy sales growth translates to Arla growth, and joins similar long-term contracts agreed with Arla involving Aldi (five years) and Morrisons (four years). Now, let’s turn to Sainsbury’s which is wielding the big stick again by being out to tender with its suppliers Arla, Muller, Medina and Tomlinsons, with an announcement due in September. PR kickings Unlike Asda, Sainsbury’s is witnessing its liquid milk sales decline. In addition, it has been the focus of numerous PR kickings in recent months, not least due to my mate Walkland sticking the boot in. But thick-skinned Sainsbury’s won’t bother about that. However, it will bother about the cost of its milk. And word on the street is Sainsbury’s has had a shock, and most if not all processors have said ‘this is the price or we walk away’. So it is new territory for Sainsbury’s where its tender process will see it paying more for milk. Going to tender is costly administratively and inevitably damages the relationship, because it is the equivalent of saying ‘We are going to threaten you because we think there might be someone out there that can do a better or cheaper job’. Tomlinsons, for example, was a good family concern before it got the Sainsbury’s business, but is now practically bust, leaving some (like Walkland) to question whether the retailer is a decent outfit to deal with. Some of those tendering for the Sainsbury’s liquid contract in the past would have been concerned they would lose volume, but I am not so sure they are bothered this time around. I think they are sick of Sainsbury’s being hardwired to the big stick of tendering. The Sainsbury’s experiment to distribute volume between four processors failed. In contrast, Asda wants a partner which engages with it, works with the retailer to improve


***DF Sep p16 17 Potter (CORRECT).indd 2

16/08/2019 14:53

Arla will ban the slaughtering of dairy bull calves from January 1, 2021.

Processors are sick of Sainsbury’s approach and are increasingly sticking two fingers up to the retailer

processes and takes it forward. These are the basics for the best commercial relationships, with both sides investing in building a partnership. To sum it up, Asda is a friend and ally of Arla and vice-versa, while Sainsbury’s wants to beat-up its suppliers every three years into supplying it with the cheapest milk, and does not seem to value a relationship. Processors are sick of Sainsbury’s approach and are increasingly sticking two fingers up to the retailer, as this is not the type of business they want to work with long term. Good for them! Turning to farmgate milk prices, things do not look good, particularly for liquid processors, and few, if any, have any concerns or worries about pending Government contract regulation. The main concerns are survival, Brexit and hoping that none of the big guns opens the recruitment doors to entice farmers. Confidence among farmers in some liquid processors’ long-term future is close to rock bottom, with some processors very short-term

operators and struggling to continue and run professional processing and sales departments. They certainly do not look five to 10 years ahead as to what is coming down the road. In fact, one or two cannot even look much beyond five to 10 days. The GB liquid business is basically knackered. It is a zero margin high volume business, and that is what ‘four pints for £1’ has done. As I write, Cash and Carry Bestways is selling two litres for only 79p. Serious problems A September 25p liquid standard litre price, with the likelihood of even lower prices to come, will cause serious problems on many farms. If we look ahead six or seven months, we have a perfect cocktail for milk production to break all records, resulting in more distress milk and pain. Then throw in a no-deal Brexit and it will be time to buckle up, strap yourselves in and prepare for some mega G-forces on your milk prices!

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BREEDING BULL PROOFS If you are looking for more milk or improved fertility in your sire choice, then look no further that these two recent releases. Hannah Noble reports.

Ardor is good choice for commercial dairy Westcoast Ardor JFROM British Colombia, Canada, Westcoast Ardor offers a balanced package of high components, excellent fertility and moderate type traits, making him a great choice for commercial dairy farmers. By the Stantons Main Event son, Stantons Draftpick, Ardour is one of several bulls in AI out of Gold-N-Oaks MVP Aria, a Seagull-Bay MVP daughter. Ardor makes improvements on his father across the board, but especially with his mammary and production traits as well as £PLI, where daughters are expected to produce £676 more profit over their lifetime than an average cow.

Westcoast Ardor

Daughters should offer a generous 50.9kg of combined fat and protein, and produce on average 508kg of milk above the average cow each lactation. This equates to +0.1% fat and +0.07% protein. He provides excellent health traits, including a Fertility Index (FI) of 12.7, meaning daughters are expected to get in-calf, on average, 7.6 days sooner. Ardor’s linear shows no extremes, but with a mammary composite score of +1.37, he produces cows with shallow udders (+1.55), strong fore udder attachments (+1.08) and high rear udders (+0.97). Daughters are expected to be

slightly taller than average (+1.11), but this is complemented with wide chests (+1.28). However, protect for body depth (+0.20) and angularity (+0.14) to avoid breeding animals unbalanced

and coarse in their body traits. rGreat for: Improving component output, decreasing somatic cell count and improving fertility. rProtect for: Calving ease, teat length, body size.

TJR Duke Dawson JTJR Duke Dawson currently ranks number one in the UK for milk at +1,457kg, and combines this with positive fertility as well as a functional Type and impressive udders. Dawson is by the Montross son, S-S-I Montross Duke, and out of Mr Coin Draco daughter, TJR DE-Diamond 31630. As a result of his mammoth milk output, Dawson’s scores for component percentages are unfortunately diluted, making them negative (-0.21% fat and -0.06% protein). However, it must be noted he still offers a vast combined weight of fat and protein at 79.5kg. Dawson improves on his father’s negative FI, and


at +4.2, his daughters are predicted to hold in-calf 2.5 days sooner than their average counterparts. On top of that, they are also expected to remain productive in the herd up to five months longer too, with a lifespan of +0.5. Dawson is the only available genomic bull to offer over 1,100kg milk, positive FI and over 3.0 Type Merit (TM). And with a score of 3.12 TM, daughters are stylish and offer balanced body traits. They are taller (+1.26) than average, but this is balanced by ample chest width (+1.09), comparable body depth (+0.89), and pleasing angularity (+1.90).

TJR DE-Diamond, dam of TJR Duke Dawson

His mammary composite score of +2.45 is derived from a combination of excellent fore udder attachments (+2.60) and high rear udders (+3.03). He also offers a teat length of +0.49 which will be a welcome

addition to his linear for many prospective buyers. rGreat for: milk, Type Merit, improving udders, A2A2 milk contracts, improving teat length. rProtect for: Body condition score and calving ease.


**DF Sep p18 Breeding (Sorted now).indd 2

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14/08/2019 12/08/2019 16:33 15:33

BREEDING BULL PROOFS August genetic indexes, just published by AHDB Dairy, brought new number one bulls to the daughter-proven, genomic, British Friesian and Jersey breed rankings.


n the August proven bull ranking, typically dominated by North American genetics, Danish-bred Viking bull VH Balisto Brook breaks through into number one position having graduated from the young sire genomic ranking with early milking daughters. Brook’s Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) of £794 is the highest of the available proven bulls and reflects the high fat and protein percentages in his Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA) at +0.23% and +0.12% respectively. He combines this with breed-leading udder health figures (-40 SCC, -5 Mastitis), reflecting the significant emphasis placed on these traits over many years in the Nordic countries. Also graduating from the genomic young sires is another new entry in second place, Bomaz AltaTopshot (PLI £766). This Cogent Supershot son transmits high production with 1,187kg milk and 71.2kg combined fat and protein. The familiar name of Co-op Robust Cabriolet (PLI £755) features in third place, now with 684 UK daughters earning him a reliability of 95%, the highest in the top 10. Cabriolet excels in calf survival (+4.2), Lameness Advantage (+4.2) and maintenance index (-21). Former number one sire Larcrest Commend is now fourth in this elite group of bulls, with a PLI of £752. With more than 100 UK daughters, he transmits high milk solids at 0.20% fat and 0.18% protein.

Viking tackles US stronghold

VH Balisto Brook tops the daughter-proven Holstein bulls.

New in fifth place is the Mr Mogul Delta son Siemers Bloomfield, a high Fertility Index bull (+13.1) with good calf survival (+4.1) and long daughter lifespans (+0.7). His PLI is £749 and his Type Merit of +2.6 is the second highest in the top 10. Sixth ranking View-Home Littlerock maintains a top-10 position with a PLI of £719 as his UK daughter numbers rise to 124. German-bred Mocon retains seventh position (PLI £715) while eighth ranking De-Su 12147 All-

star is propelled into the top 10 as 111 more UK milking daughters contribute to his PTAs. This son of Balisto, one of four in the top 10, features a massive 40.3kg protein to help earn him a PLI of £714. Type Merit Ninth placed Cookiecutter Harper (PLI £713) is a former top 10 sire, while Mogul son EDG Rubicon rounds off the top 10. A massive 52.6kg fat (78.4kg fat plus protein) helps earn him a PLI of £709. With +3.26 points for type, he

is also the highest Type Merit sire in the top 10. Just outside the daughter-proven top 10, newcomer AOT Silver Helix has a breed-leading 88.2kg fat plus protein, while some serious daughter fertility improvements can be expected from the highest FI bulls in the top 25. These bulls – Teemar Shamrock Alphabet (PLI £682) and S-S-I Mogul Multiply (PLI £676) – have Fertility Indexes of +19.6 and +19.1 respectively. Commenting on the proven bulls, AHDB head of animal genetics Marco Winters says: “Every one of these daughter-proven bulls has graduated at some point from the young sire genomic ranking, each bull helping to build confidence in the UK and international dairy sire proving systems. “Producers who choose to keep a few, high-ranking, daughter-proven bulls among their service sires can do so in the knowledge these sires have a reliable track record. But they also serve as a reminder the genomic evaluations are proving their value, as one tranche of young sires follows the next into the proven rankings.” 


Milk Fat Ptn Fat Ptn SCC Mast LS FI Maint TM kg kg kg % %

1 794 VH Balisto Brook 2 766 Bomaz Altatopshot 3 755 Co-op Robust Cabriolet 4 752 Larcrest Commend 5 749 Siemers Bloomfield 6 719 View-Home Littlerock 7 715 Mocon 8 714 De-Su 12147 Allstar 9 713 Cookiecutter Harper 10 709 EDG Rubicon

437 36.3 24.0 0.23 0.12 -40 -5 1187 35.4 35.8 -0.13 -0.03 -24 -3 651 42.0 26.4 0.19 0.06 -12 0 316 28.4 25.1 0.20 0.18 -20 -3 452 39.6 17.2 0.26 0.03 -21 -2 766 20.9 27.4 -0.11 0.03 -18 -1 864 25.4 29.3 -0.10 0.01 -25 -3 1063 24.5 40.3 -0.19 0.07 -22 -2 604 32.3 32.4 0.10 0.15 -12 -1 748 52.6 25.8 0.27 0.02 -18 -1

0.7 8.8 0 0.5 7.1 6 0.3 4.1 -21 0.4 8.4 -2 0.7 13.1 4 0.7 12.3 -13 0.7 6.2 -17 0.4 5.6 10 0.4 7.4 4 0.6 1.9 14

Sire GB/NI


1.14 Balisto VIK/AIS 1.04 Supershot ALT/AIS/GG 1.43 Robust UKS/AIS 1.38 Balisto GEN 2.60 Delta SMX 1.08 Cashcoin SMX 0.34 Morgan BUL 2.23 Balisto GEN 2.16 Balisto GEN 3.26 Mogul CBL

AIS = AI Services; ALT = Alta; BUL =; CBL = Cogent Breeding; GEN = Genus ABS; GG = Global Genetics; SMX = Semex; UKS = UK Sire Services; VIK = Viking. PLI = Profitable Lifetime Index; SCC = Somatic Cell Count; Mast = Mastitis; LS = Lifespan; FI = Fertility Index; Maint = Maintenance; TM = Type Merit.

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Hot competition for top genomic ranking spot


here is a tie for the number one position along with three new entrants to August’s top 10 Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) ranking for young genomic Holstein sires, published by AHDB Dairy. Denovo 8084 Entity and Bomaz AltaCabot share the top spot, moving up from sixth and fifth last time respectively. Entity features a massive Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA) for fat of 48.4kg alongside the expected superb daughter health and fertility traits which are characteristic of the high PLI bulls. Other highlights of this Triplecrown JW Matters son are his transmission of excellent calf survival (+2.7) and maternal calving ease (+2) – in other words, his daughters are predicted to be easy calving. AltaCabot (a son of Bomaz AltaTopshot) is another exceptional fat transmitter (44.7kg), again with good maternal calving ease (+2.1), excellent udder health (-28 SCC and -4 Mastitis) and a Lameness Advantage of +2.8. The PLI of these joint top bulls is £871. Holding their places in the top five are two ABS Achiever sons – De-Su 14673 Appeal (PLI £864) and Denovo 7921 Atrium (PLI

a Supershot dam, he features the second highest top 10 Fertility Index at +13.3, and has a favourable Lameness Advantage of +2.5. Denovo 15158 Admiral (PLI £853) is a newcomer ranked seventh and is out of a Yoder dam from the well-known Ammon-Peachey Shauna brood cow. Admiral is the highest weight of fat transmitter in the top 20 at 49.1kg (+0.17%).

Pen-Col Rubicon Beth VG85, dam of equal first Denovo 8084 Entity.

£863). Appeal has impressive daughter fertility (+12.8) and a Type Merit of +2.5 – the highest in the top 20. Atrium also transmits good fertility (+11.9) and has an outstanding Maintenance score at -12. Programme In equal fifth place is new entrant Denovo Invictus (PLI £860), another son of Achiever and by a Cogent Supershot dam. Like the other bulls bearing this prefix, Invictus is a product of the joint programme between ABS Global and De-Su Holsteins but, unlike most, he is UK-born and housed in the Genus ABS Ruthin facility.

Like his paternal brothers, he has a good maintenance score, meaning daughters are cheaper to feed. His Lifespan Index of +0.7 indicates a seven-month, or 213-day longer lifespan than a zero-rated lifespan bull. He also fares well on the USA’s Net Merit at $1,033, so is expected to have global appeal, although UK breeders should be assured they are in a good position to secure early supplies of this 17-month-old bull. Sharing fifth place is the UKbred Boghill Glamour Persuade, the highest protein transmitter in the top 10 at +34.8kg. A son of Westcoast Perseus and again by

Debut Also making his debut is eighth-ranking Melarry Frazz Arrowhead (PLI £848), a son of Frazzled, whose solid production transmission is complemented by low daughter maintenance costs (-10), exceptionally low cell counts (-31), and the best daughter fertility in the top 10 (+13.9). Sharing eighth position is Denovo 14566 Crosby, who retains his top 10 position with the highest weight of milk, at 1,027kg, in this group. His PLI of £848 reflects his daughters’ predicted low cell counts (-28) and the best Lameness Advantage (+3.2) in the top 10. Rounding off the top 10 is the Danish-bred, VH Bosman Bahrain, whose PLI of £844 reflects low maintenance costs (-16),


Milk Fat Ptn Fat Ptn SCC Mast LS FI TM Sire kg kg kg % %

Supplier GB/NI

=1 871 Denovo 8084 Entity =1 871 Bomaz Altacabot 3 864 De-Su 14673 Appeal 4 863 Denovo 7921 Atrium =5 860 Denovo Invictus =5 860 Boghill Glamour Persuade 7 853 Denovo 15158 Admira =8 848 Melarry Frazz Arrowhead =8 848 Denovo 14566 Crosby 10 844 VH Bosman Bahrain

981 48.4 31.7 0.11 0.00 -22 -3 823 44.7 31.5 0.14 0.06 -28 -4 715 40.3 28.2 0.14 0.06 -22 -2 683 44.0 26.1 0.20 0.05 -23 -3 811 38.8 29.3 0.08 0.03 -22 -2 979 28.4 34.8 -0.11 0.04 -26 -3 866 49.1 29.1 0.17 0.01 -24 -3 781 36.7 25.8 0.07 0.01 -31 -3 1027 42.7 33.4 0.03 0.00 -28 -3 778 33.0 34.0 0.03 0.10 -21 -3


0.6 10.3 0.5 6.3 0.7 12.8 0.6 11.9 0.7 11.1 0.7 13.3 0.7 6.9 0.7 13.9 0.7 6.8 0.6 8.4

1.34 1.70 2.50 1.68 1.40 1.18 1.87 0.89 1.44 0.58

Matters Altatopshot Achiever Achiever Achiever Perseus Torque Frazzled Charley Bosman

ALT = Alta; GEN = Genus ABS; GG = Global Genetics; VIK = Viking; WWS = World Wide Sires. PLI = Profitable Lifetime Index; SCC = Somatic Cell Count; Mast = Mastitis; LS = Lifespan; FI = Fertility Index; TM = Type Merit..

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SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:10

BULL PROOFS BREEDING Stop press: new genomic bulls

Bomaz Altacabot is placed equal first in the genomic PLI rankings.

solid production and health and fitness across the board. Highlights outside the top 10 include 11th ranking newcomer Bomaz Monument-P (PLI £842), a son of Medley and joint highest lifespan improver at +0.8; UKbred Glamour Boghill Victor, who is maternal bother to the number five sire, Boghill Glamour Persuade (PLI £835); and finally the newly released Bryhill H-Noon Laval (PLI £833) who transmits the highest daughter fertility in the top 20 at +16. 

Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy, says: “The number of new entrants in this list indicates the level of investment being made in the Holstein genetics industry, and the remarkable success which can be achieved when breeders and businesses combine their forces and focus their efforts. “The qualities of these and other high-ranking bulls bring untold opportunities to UK breeders, by offering PTAs for fat approaching 50kg and comple-

JAs Dairy Farmer went to press, Genus ABS launched new genomic bulls which would have qualified for the AHDB Dairy ranking and been top of the table had they been available on ‘bull proof day’. The top two latecomers boast about 1,000kg milk and more than 80kg fat plus protein in their PTAs. With a PLI of £891, Bomaz Fynn (Frazzled x Rubicon) would have taken number one position, also transmitting superb health including cell count and lameness improvements. He has a Type Merit of +2.32.

menting this with unprecedented improvements in health and fertility. “I would remind producers who were wary of using Holstein genetics before the advent of health and fitness indexes that the

Genus ABS’ number two bull, Hul-Stein Partytime, would have ranked second with a PLI of £882. Hailed by Genus as an outcross, his sire stack reads Imax x Profit x Platinum and he too improves daughter health and lifespan.

Performance These bulls increase the Genus ABS performance to an impressive eight out of the top 10 available genomic young sires ranked on £PLI. Full details of their indexes appear on the updated £PLI ranking on the AHDB website.

breed today has much to select from and, with modern breeding tools at our disposal, offers unprecedented scope for genetic improvement in health and fertility as well as production.”  


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Holsteins dominate across-breed table


anish-bred VH Balisto Brook returns to the limelight in the AHDB rankings for Autumn Calving Index (ACI), having also clinched number one position in the daughter-proven PLI list. Although this is an across-breed ranking, Brook is one of 10 Holsteins in the top 10, revealing the impressive economic credentials of the black and white breed in a typical autumn block-calving, winter-housed, UK situation. Brook features excellent milk solids and outstanding udder health, and has the best TB Advantage in the ACI top five.   Teemar Shamrock Alphabet retains second position with exceptional daughter fertility and lifespan, lower maintenance costs than most of his cohorts, and an ACI of £647.   Also at £647 is the equal second-ranking, newly proven

Siemers Bloomfield. This son of Mr Mogul Delta excels for weight and percentage of fat and has good fitness across the board. He also has the highest Type Merit among the top 10 ACI sires. Former front-runner, Larcrest Commend, ranks fourth (ACI £637) while S-S-I Mogul Multiply remains unchanged in fifth position (ACI £618), thanks to good production, superb daughter fertility and overall fitness. SCI Producers forward-buying for the spring calving season have a slightly different selection of leading sires and a broader mix of breeds from which to select at the top of the SCI ranking. In number one position is the British Friesian, Catlane Caleb (SCI 482), who transmits high quality, low volume milk production, low maintenance costs and superb daughter fertility – all key traits in a spring block-calving herd.

Both the ACI and SCI are calculated across all dairy breeds, giving none any favour over another MARCO WINTERS Second ranking Lakemead Jingle (SCI 481) also features the characteristic good fertility of the British Friesian breed alongside the highest TB Advantage among the top 20 SCI bulls. In third place is the leading Jersey in this ranking, Danish VJ Tester (SCI 471), who brings the high milk quality typical of the breed with lower volume than his cohorts. Equally typical

New chart toppers for British Friesians and Jerseys JTwo new front-runners in the non-Holstein breeds are Lakemead Jingle (Pinnacle) for the British Friesians (PLI £521), rising from fourth position and transmitting good daughter fertility (+5.4) and lifespan (+0.4), and for the Jerseys, the Tester son, Danish VJ Tudvad (PLI £508). There is no change in the number one position for the red and whites, with VR Nivalan Fimbe Faabeli retaining his lead at PLI £644.

24 **DF Sep p20 22 23 24 Hardy.indd 5

for the Jersey breed are the low maintenance costs of his daughters, who also feature good fertility. PLI leader VH Balisto Brook does not disappoint when it comes to SCI, taking fourth place at £463. The top five is rounded off with the higher milk volume Teemar Shamrock Alphabet (SCI £458), who moves up from eighth place as daughters come into production.  Marco Winters, head of animal genetics for AHDB Dairy, says: “Producers are reminded that both the ACI and SCI are calculated across all dairy breeds, giving none any favour over another. Suited “This allows each breed to be compared on a completely level playing field and helps those cross-breeding to fairly assess the sires most suited to their system. “As is always the case, I would urge those using any breed on their farms to use UK-equivalent indexes rather than those from any foreign country. “Other countries’ indexes are calculated with different economic conditions in play, they don’t always allow across-breed comparison, and they cannot be compared in a meaningful way with indexes from the UK.”

More information

Lakemead Jingle is new top British Friesian sire.

JFor more breeds and genetic indexes, visit the AHDB Dairy website genetics and breeding section at

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:11



The success rate with Sexcel® semen had a marked impact on the make-up of the calf crop... We are bringing better quality genetics into the herd quicker and selling more beef calves. Andrew and Alison Walmsley, Yorkshire, UK

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14/08/2019 11:12

VET’S VIEW We all know the importance of colostrum for the new born calf, but there are other aspects to minimising the risk of disease in young calves, as Westpoint Farm Vets’ Tim Potter points out.

How to minimise disease threat to newborn calves


olostrum provides the calf with the immunoglobulins it needs to fight disease, but we should also be aiming to minimise exposure to the disease in the first place, and this is where hygiene and biosecurity comes in. Ensuring good hygiene in all aspects of calf management will significantly reduce the risk of diseases such as navel ill, joint ill and scours. The environment in which animals are calving should be clean and regularly disinfected, ideally after every cow. If you need to examine a calving cow or provide assistance always make sure you take steps to minimise the potential introduction of bacteria. Ensure all calving aids, such as ropes, are clean and that you wear clean gloves or thoroughly clean your hands and arms before examining a cow. Faeces from adult cows contains large numbers of bacteria and the aim must be to minimise the chance of the calf ingesting any of it. Avoid overstocking calving pens and do not use calving pens to house sick cows. All calves should receive enough good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth, and their navels should be dipped with iodine solution to minimise the risk of infection tracking up through the umbilicus. Once you have the calf, it is essential all the rearing environment is clean and regularly

26 **DF Sep p26 27 Vets View .indd 2

the calf shed is having disposable gloves for staff to use when they are feeding and dealing sick calves. We are all aware of how important they are in the milking parlour to minimise the spread of mastitis pathogens and the same principle is true in the calf shed.

Calves are the animals most susceptible to disease on the farm.

disinfected. Calves are the animals most susceptible to disease on the farm, and it is important to recognise that movement of staff and equipment from other parts of the farm pose a significant disease risk for the calves. Minimise Encourage staff to think of the rearing shed as a separate area of the farm and try to minimise unnecessary visitors to the shed. I work with a number of farms who will have designated boots and overalls for the calf shed that are not used elsewhere on the farm, but as minimum there should be a disinfectant boot dip at the entrance to the rearing shed. Remember that any disinfectants must be mixed to the correct concentration and that their effectiveness is limited in the

Once you have the calf, it is essential all the rearing environment is clean and regularly disinfected TIM POTTER presence of large amounts of organic material, so always ensure boots are cleaned off before they are dipped. Another simple way of reducing the spread of disease in

Schedule Having a regular schedule of cleaning and disinfection in place for the calf shed is an important step to preventing the build up of pathogens in the environment. As vets we frequently get involved with outbreaks of joint ill or scour where the root of the issue is overwhelming contamination of the environment. The ideal system is ‘all-in all-out’ which allows sheds to be completely cleaned out and disinfected between batches of calves. However on herds which are calving all year round this can often prove difficult with there being a constant flow of calves into a shed. In these situations it is important to try and build in some points in the year when sheds can be emptied and fully cleaned and disinfected, even if it is just once a year during the summer months when calves can be placed temporarily outside. When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting the shed it is important that there is a proper protocol in place and it is adhered to. Firstly, all organic matter needs to be removed before the cleaning process begins. All surfaces that the animals come

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:54


An ideal system is an ‘all-in all-out’ which allows sheds to be cleaned out and completely disinfected between batches of calves.

into contact with will need to be cleaned including walls up to about 1.5m and any fittings such as gates, feed troughs and water drinkers. Cleaning and disinfection involves a clean/wash/dry cycle followed by a disinfect/dry cycle. Allowing the sheds to dry is an important part of the process. In terms of choice of disinfectant there are several different products available and your vet will be able to advise on the best product. For calf sheds it is important that the product is effective against bacteria, viruses and the parasites which can cause calf scour (coccidia and cryptosporidia). Bacteria Remember too that milk and milk replacer are ideal feed sources for bacteria. If not cleaned properly, milk feeding equipment can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria. It is vital that feeding equipment such as bottles, teats, buckets, hoses, mixing instruments and storage containers are all cleaned and sanitised after every use. Feeding equipment should be rinsed with lukewarm water before it is properly cleaned in hot water with a cleansing agent. Failing to rinse equipment before placing it in hot water can make it harder to clean as the heat will cause fat and protein residue to adhere to the equipment. After cleaning the equipment should be rinsed and allowed to dry, but be aware of where you are drying equipment as stacking it on the floor will undo the good done by the cleaning process. Calves are the most vulnerable animals on the farm, so it is important steps are put in place to reduce their exposure to pathogens and minimise their risk of disease.







27% OF COWS AT RISK* OF REDUCED PRODUCTION, FERTILITY AND#ketosisSOTN HEALTH1 GO TO for YOUR farms figures Ask your vet about a bolus to help Boost Energy


BOOST ENERGY 1. Raboisson, D., Mounié, M. and Maigné, E., 2014. Diseases, reproductive performance, and changes in milk production associated with subclinical ketosis in dairy cows: A meta-analysis and review. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(12), pp.7547-7563. *Data calculated with permission from farms DHI recordings. Cows were considered at risk with fat:protein ratios of 1.4 or greater as described in M. Overton et al. Use DHIA records to screen for ketosis – Hoards Dairyman May 2011. Calculation based on data from at risk cows in July 2019 over a 12 month period. For further information call Elanco Animal Health on 00 (44) 1256 353131 or write to Elanco Animal Health Lilly House, Priestley Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 9NL. Elanco and the Diagonal Bar are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates. Advice should be sought from the prescriber prior to use. Use medicines responsibly ( © 2019, Elanco or its affiliates. PM-UK-19-0043

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p26 27 Vets View .indd 3

27 13/08/2019 15:00

YOUNGSTOCK Careful management of colostrum intakes is helping a Welsh dairy farm overcome health problems associated with young calves. Debbie James reports.

Colostrum is crucial for good calf survival rates


ewborn calves from the 420-cow high yielding Holstein herd at Marian Mawr, near Rhyl, are encouraged to suckle the first colostrum feed from their mother. If that fails, the cow is milked at the next milking or on a mobile milker, and the calf is given four litres of her colostrum. Calves, which are reared initially in individual pens, continue to have their mothers’ milk for three days before milk replacer is introduced at a rate of two litres twice a day. “Once we are happy the calf is established on a teat we move it into a group pen with an automatic feeder, usually at five to seven days,’’ explains Aled Morris, who farms with his wife, Jo, and mother, Morfydd. Calves are weaned at eight weeks and moved to an offlying farm where their diet consists of ad lib barley straw and 4-5kg of 21% protein rearing nuts. More than 100 heifers are reared annually as replacements and to facilitate expansion – the aim is to have 500 cows in the herd by the spring of 2021. Mr Morris regards heifer calves as the most valuable animals on the farm. “If a calf has had a good start then it has a better chance of achieving target growth rates which is important on our system for calving at 24 months. Spending a bit of time and money getting it right from birth really does pay off.’’ Calves that receive insuffi-

28 **DF Sep p28 29 Youngstock.indd 2

Aled Morris says at five to seven days, once they are established on a teat, calves are moved into a group pen.

cient colostrum within the first few hours of birth risk infections and pneumonia, yet up to 50% of calves receive it too late or at inadequate levels, according to vet Gwyn Jones. Long-term He says dairy farmers are risking the long-term health and productivity of their heifer replacements by incorrectly managing and feeding colostrum. Scour, pneumonia, navel infections and meningitis are four of the biggest killers of calves under 12 weeks of age. In Wales, one-in-eight calves dies between birth and 12 weeks of age, but the best performing dairy farmers lose just one in 25 calves. Good quality colostrum

Spending a bit of time and money getting it right from birth really does pay off ALED MORRIS is key to preventing deaths, says Mr Jones. “Immunoglobulin in colostrum is the most important factor in determining the morbidity and mortality of young calves.’’ Mr Jones, of Wern Vets,

Ruthin, says calves that do not take in sufficient quantities of the antibodies present in colostrum are four times more likely to die than those with an optimum antibody status. Colostrum is at its prime when a cow is freshly calved. “The level of antibodies in the first feed is 6% but that falls to 4.2% in the second and 2.4% in the third, so the first feed is far superior to anything else. Always feed the newborn calf colostrum collected at the first milking. Antibodies “Even if you don’t milk a cow her colostrum antibody levels drop if left in the udder because the cow needs those antibodies, her body is programmed to

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:55

VET’S VIEW Once a calf is scouring it becomes a virus factory, shedding millions of germ cells GWYN JONES absorb them. Levels are halved within 12 hours if she isn’t milked or if her calf doesn’t suck.’’ The protective value of these antibodies is not just beneficial for the first few weeks of life but for at least eight weeks. Mr Jones advises feeding three litres of colostrum within six hours of birth, or two litres followed by another two litres six hours later. After six hours, absorption efficiency is 30% lower than at birth so timing is critical. Storing colostrum at too high a temperature will cause scours. If stored at room temperature, the number of bugs it contains will double within just 20 minutes, Mr Jones explains. He advises storing colostrum in the fridge if it is to be used within 24 hours. If antibody levels are insufficient, calves can succumb to viruses and bacteria, notably E.coli, rotavirus, coronavirus and cryptosporidium. “If scours occur within five days of birth it is likely to be E.coli, one to three weeks, rotavirus, and three to five weeks coronavirus,’’ Mr Jones says. Salmonella Salmonella is a less common but serious cause of scour – a tell-tale sign is the presence of blood in scour, mostly in older calves. Cryptosporidium is probably the most prevalent cause of calf scour and can occur at any time but particularly from 10 days onwards. Good hygiene is key to prevention. Scouring calves should be separated from healthy animals, Mr Jones says. “Once a calf is scouring it becomes a virus factory, shedding millions of germ cells. “There is also a risk of humans spreading infection so good hygiene protocols between treating an infected calf and handling healthy animals are essential.’’ He recommends assigning a stomach tube specifically for feeding sick calves instead of using one tube for all animals.

If a calf has had a good start, it has a better chance of achieving target growth rates for calving at 24 months, says Mr Morris.

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16/08/2019 14:55

WORLD DAIRYING BULGARIA To counter the pressure on margins, one Bulgarian family has opted for a multi-livestock enterprise, making products for sale directly to the consumer. Chris McCullough reports.

Cutting out the middle man on Bulgarian farm


taying afloat financially milking cows in rural Bulgaria is a real challenge, made even more difficult by being caught in the squeeze of low milk prices and increasing production costs. Many farmers there are forced to venture into a number of different enterprises in their farm businesses just to make ends meet, spreading the risk so to speak. Agora Kulov works closely alongside her father Nikola on the family dairy farm in the southern half of Bulgaria, near Plovdiv. Their goal is to keep the farm alive preserving the traditions of their ancestors which involves keeping and milking sheep as well. “Our family farm is located in Vassil Levski village at Karlovo in the Plovdiv area,” says Agora. “My father is Karakachanian and he is preserving the culture of his ancestors, the

Buffalo are kept for milking and meat production.

Karakachani, who for many generations make their living by raising Karakachan sheep.” Products The Kulov farm is a mixed enterprise unit milking sheep, cows, buffalo and goats to produce milk and cheese, as well as yoghurts and other dairy products. All the milking and processing is carried out by the family

We sell directly to the consumer and can control all of the various stages of the production cycle

themselves and products are sold direct to consumers. “Today we keep around 500 Karakachan sheep which is a certified, local rare breed,” Agora says. “As well as that we have about 200 Assaf sheep, 200 Bulgarian white milk goats and 30 milking cows of various dairy cross-breeds. “We also run 170 Bulgarian Grey and Bulgarian Brown beef cows which are all certified. “Back in 2000 my family de-

cided to enter into keeping buffalo, and now we have about 150 buffaloes which we also milk to produce cheese,” she said. The Kulov farm extends to 200 hectares of mountain pasture up on Stara Planina mountain, which is in the National Park called Central Balkan. They also farm 300 hectares of lower pasture land and crops. In order to increase their income and add value to their milk, the family embarked on a programme which enabled them to process their own milk for resale. While Agora is just 23 years old and studying for a law degree, she also plays a very important role on the family farm. She says: “In 2015 we opened the first demo-centre for processing milk from rare local breeds in Bulgaria. Our brand is Pod Balkana, which translated, means ‘at the foot of the Balkan Mountain’. “This initiative was supported The Kulov farm is a mixed enterprise unit milking sheep, cows, buffalo and goats to produce milk and cheese.


30 **DF Sep p30 31 Bulgaria.indd 2

SEPTEMBER 2019 15/08/2019 11:40


It is quite a spectacular backdrop for the grazing herd.

by the Bulgarian and Swiss co-operation program and Foundation Bioselena. Processing “I am very much involved on the farm processing the milk and meat for sale. Also, I look after the packaging and labelling of the products and support our websites and social media. “This project supplied us with a special refrigerated trailer which we take around the area to sell our products at farmers markets and a number of local fairs directly to the customers. “Our goal was to completely manage the entire circle of production and retail of the food we produce. By processing our own milk and meat, we sell directly to the consumer and can indeed control all of the various stages of production,” she adds. “Our buffaloes yield seven to eight litres each per day. Buffalo milk has lower cholesterol but more fat compared to cow’s milk, and is extremely rich in calcium. It is a good source of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. “Now we produce dairy prod-

ucts from cow’s milk and goat milk as well. We produce the dairy drinks Kefir and Matenitsa and butters Kashkaval and Izvara. “At the end of 2018 we set up our own on-farm processing centre for meat from buffalo, sheep, lamb, goat, kid, cow and calf meat. That is also very popular with the local customers. “We milk about 30 cows twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, and receive an average

of 20 litres per cow per day at around 3.6% butterfat. Pasture “Both the cows and buffalo are milked in our small five aside milking parlour. All the livestock are kept outdoors on free pasture land where they can roam around. “With milk prices in Bulgaria set at about 30 euro cents per litre, we knew something had to be done to increase our income.

This was achieved by processing the milk ourselves, cutting out the middle man, and taking control of all the stages to retail. “Our products are very popular with consumers and we continue to add to the range we offer,” she says. “One of the main goals for us in the future is to increase our use of technology on the farm, and that is something we strive to do when we have saved sufficient for the investment,” says Agora.

About 150 buffalo are in the herd.

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p30 31 Bulgaria.indd 3

31 16/08/2019 14:55


Preserving the m Want more milk from your maize silage? The microbial processes in maize clamps have a huge impact on its nutritional value. So understanding them is key.


icture the scene – trailers

is no point in letting its nutritional

full of freshly-harvested

value go to waste.”

maize entering your farmyard. But every so

Hidden losses

Worryingly, Dr Leggett says it is not just

often, rather than unloading the

detectable problems, such as heating

sweet-smelling forage into your

and visible wastage, that cause losses.

clamp, two or three out of every 10

A clamp may look fine but suffer from

trailers simply peel off and dump it in

substantial hidden losses.

the slurry pit, rendering it worthless. Far-fetched?

Equally, it is not just tonnes of dry matter at stake. The feed quality of the

According to Volac silage micro-

Farmers have no control over the number of good and bad micro-organisms present on maize at harvest.

silage that remains will be depleted, and

biologist, Dr Mark Leggett, this is

fungal contamination can make silage

about the scale of loss that can

unpalatable, leading to cows rejecting it,

occur in maize clamps through a

he adds. So what can be done?

Improve fermentation

set maize up for a better preservation.

A key step to successful ensiling,

(See panel, right). You can also take

says Dr Leggett, is the rapid

better control of the process by adding

combination of inefficient fermenta-

Firstly, Dr Leggett says it is

tion and aerobic spoilage (heating).

important to really understand the

production of acidic conditions

beneficial bacteria to dominate the

Both are caused by unwanted

unwanted microbial processes, so you

(low pH) in the clamp.


micro-organisms, as Dr Leggett

can focus on controlling them.


This process of fermentation is

“By applying a quality additive in

carried out by lactic acid bacteria, he

this way, it not only provides beneficial

which are typically about 8%, or roughly

says, and is important in order to quickly

bacteria but also a strain of them, such

equal to one trailer load in 10 being lost,

inhibit spoilage bacteria. However, not

as Lactobacillus plantarum MTD/1, spe-

occur because the primary fermentation

all lactic acid bacteria are the same.

cially-selected to be highly efficient at

He explains: “Fermentation losses,

“A lot of investment goes into growing a maize crop so there

is simply not efficient enough. This

the sugars in maize purely to beneficial

essentially the ‘pickling’ process that

lactic acid, others will also ferment the

mentation, the benefits can include

preserves the silage.

sugars to other materials. These include

lower dry matter losses and faster inhib-

carbon dioxide, which is not good be-

ition of unwanted spoilage bacteria,”

spoilage, which can reach 20% or two

cause the carbon in carbon dioxide is a

he points out.

trailer loads in 10, are caused when

direct loss of dry matter.

yeasts and moulds that are present

of bacteria naturally present on the crop

survive in the clamp and proliferate on

at harvest, you can do various things to

the energy in the maize is ‘burned up’.

**DF Sep p32 33 Volac (Signed off).indd 2

“While you cannot control the types

naturally on maize plants are allowed to exposure to air. This leads to heating, as


lactic acid production.

is important because fermentation is

“Meanwhile, losses from aerobic

A lot of investment goes into a maize crop, so there is no point in letting its nutritional value go to waste, says silage microbiologist Dr Mark Leggett.

“While some bacteria will ferment

Alternatively, if you see mould growth, losses are likely to be even higher.” To give maize the best protection,

is done.

Tackle aerobic spoilage

Unfortunately, no matter how efficient the fermentation, it cannot inhibit all

Examples of efficient and less efficient fermentations SUGAR

Dr Leggett urges farmers to tackle both problems before irreversible damage

“By achieving a more efficient fer-


Efficient bacteria eg, L. plantarum MTD/1 Less efficient bacteria

Lactic acid + Lactic acid

Lactic acid + Acetic acid + CO2

CO2 = lost dry matter

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:56



Benefit of Ecocool for keeping maize cool (37% DM)

Ecocool-treated silage remained stable for more than 10 days upon opening 10

matter – it optimises starch content and, by avoiding it being too dry, it makes the crop easier to consolidate to remove air ● Don’t cut too low – the base of the crop contains more mould spores, which contribute to aerobic spoilage (heating) ● Consider a chop length of

Heat above ambient (degC)

● Harvest the crop at 30-33% dry

Control Ecocool

8 6 4 2 0 0



1.5-2cm to aid consolidation ● Make use of a dual-acting additive to improve fermentation and control heating by inhibiting yeasts and moulds ● Fill clamps in horizontal layers a





Effects of Ecocool for reducing fungal growth in different parts of the clamp TOP





maximum of 15cm deep – the most that can be consolidated effectively ● Compact to a density of 700kg spoilage micro-organisms in maize

of fresh maize per cubic metre and

clamps, explains Dr Leggett.

sheet thoroughly to create an

This is because certain yeasts can

airtight seal

survive in low pH conditions, he says, and then grow on lactic acid when the clamp is exposed to air – causing

have little control over the numbers of

aerobic spoilage.

these yeasts present on the crop at

“By feeding on the lactic acid, they reduce the silage’s dry matter through

harvest. What is achievable, however, is to limit their growth in the silage.

production of carbon dioxide and re-

“You do this with best practice

lease of heat. But also, because lactic

clamp filling, followed by good

acid is being used up, the pH rises

consolidation and sealing to deprive


them of air.

“This allows other fungi, such as

“Similarly, you can put yourself

Aspergillus and Penicillium, to grow.

in much better control by including

Other consequences include reductions

something to inhibit them. This can be

in nutritional value and palatability, and

a preservative-based chemical, such

potentially mycotoxin production.”

as sorbate, or an additional beneficial

Just as with naturally-occurring bacteria on maize, Dr Leggett says farmers

bacterial strain, such as Lactobacillus buchneri, which generates acetic


After air exposure 440,000,000

acid that has anti-yeast properties. additive Ecocool contains the PJB/1

With Ecocool

Number of yeasts (colony forming units per gram of forage)

After ensiling

Yeast levels on opening

“As an example, the dual-acting

Inhibition of yeasts with Ecocool No additive


<1,000 <1,000

Silage post-aerobic exposure

els and keep silage taken out of the clamp cool and stable for more than 10 days.”

strain of Lactobacillus buchneri. It also contains Lactobacillus plantarum MTD/1, which is proven to produce a rapid fermentation. “Treatment with Ecocool has been shown to both reduce yeast lev-

For more information on Volac’s Cut to Clamp initiative, visit

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p32 33 Volac (Signed off).indd 3

33 16/08/2019 14:57


High grass yields are l A bumper year for grassland production has filled silage clamps up and down the country, but dairy farmers should consider its likely toll on soil nutrient resources.


ith many dairy producers across the country producing around 50% more forage than last year, removal of key nutrients from soil resources will be considerable this year. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur could have been significantly depleted in recent months, and the development of appropriate fertiliser strategies are now needed to ensure levels are restored effectively, warns independent grassland specialist Dr George Fisher. “It has probably been a ‘one-

year-in-20’ for grassland production in most parts of the country, which is great news for milk producers many of whom struggled last year to make enough silage to see them through the winter. Yields “We are hearing reports of freshweight yields of 75 tonnes/ hectare in two cuts at 20% dry matter, and crude proteins are looking much better than in many years at 13-15% especially for those producers who heeded advice to include sulphur as part of their fertiliser strategy. “For those who managed to cut when they wanted to, energy



Dr George Fisher

levels look to be good as well, so most people should have MEs around 11.5 MJ/kgDM with good palatability.” The challenge now is to make sure 2019 does not become a one-off for grassland production, and this will involve care with a nutrition strategy moving forward. “The problem is compounded by the poor year of 2018, when much grassland suffered from lack of rainfall and some did not receive adequate fertiliser because of the difficult conditions in the spring. However, some land was over supplied with nitrogen late in the season when farmers were trying to catch up.” He says the only way you can know the precise amounts of essential nutrients to apply is to carry out regular soil testing. “In intensive grassland

systems you really have to test each field for P, K, Mg and pH at least every three years, but there is a strong case for testing more this year, particularly on fields that were borderline on the targets of pH 6.5, and indexes of 2 and 2- for P and K respectively.” Potassium (K), for example, is one of the main driving forces of grass yield and the element most removed, particularly in the increasingly popular multicut silage systems, he says. “The primary role of K is to ensure efficient movement of nutrients within the plant but it also helps maintain plant cell strength, critical in supporting the high growth achieved when nitrogen is applied, and it also helps plants cope with stress. Offtake “In a multi-cut system with four cuts in a ‘normal’ year, for example, you can expect a fresh weight yield of 54t/ha which translates roughly to a dry matter yield of 13.50t/ha and this will result in an offtake of over 300kg/ha of K. “With soil K levels at Index 1 this will require 360kg/ha to be applied each year and even at Index 2- the requirement will still be 320kg/ha. At Index 2+ you will still need 200kg/ha to be applied every year to make up the shortfall.” (See tables 1 and 2).

Table 1 - Potash offtake for a 54t freshweight/ha annual yield Cut Dry matter yield (t/ha) First 5.75 Second 3.75 Third 2.25 Fourth 1.75 Total 13.50

Offtake 138 90 54 42 320

Source: RB209 - January 2018 update



***DF Sep p34 35 36 37 Grassland (CORRECT).indd 2

16/08/2019 14:57


e leaving soils depleted Table 2 - Potash requirement for 54t freshweight/ha annual yield Cut First Second Third Fourth Total

Potassium required according to soil K index 1 110 100 80 70 360

Potassium required according to soil K index 2 80 90 80 70 320

Potassium required according to soil K index 2+ 60 60 40 40 200

Source: RB209 - January 2018 update

“FYM contains valuable levels of P and K and can have a positive impact on grassland nutrient management, but there are big variations in nutrient composition in different sources so you must carry out tests pre-application and account for this before applying additional nutrients.” Sulphur is also likely to have been removed from the system in a significant quantity this year, and this will also need addressing, Dr Fisher claims. “While slurry is a good source of P and K, there is little sulphur in cattle slurry and most is not available for plant growth. “Sulphur is a major component of the protein-forming amino acids and is essential when higher amounts of nitrogen are applied. Levels have to be kept proportional to the amount of nitrogen used, and the best way to determine these is to assess levels in the growing grass. “As well as atmospheric levels being much lower than they used to be, sulphur is routinely lost from the soil system and so regular applications have to be made throughout the season to keep levels adequate for optimum nitrogen utilisation and crude protein production.” According to Mark Garrett of CF Fertilisers, the simplest way to effectively address the nutrient shortfall, keep all essential elements in balance and ensure they are delivered in the best way possible to growing swards, is to use NKS and NPKS true granular compounds. He says: “Such compounds, alongside slurries and manures, are the ideal way to restore nutrient levels in high productions systems, or in years when take-off of grass has been substantial. “As well as making sure nutrients are

It has probably been a ‘one-year-in-20’ for grassland production DR GEORGE FISHER Distributed by

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GRASSLAND delivered accurately due to their compound nature, British-made true granular products are also based on ammonium nitrate [AN]. This has been proven over many years to be the most effective source of N for grassland production systems.” Trials In trials at Reaseheath College, Cheshire, over the three years 2015-2017, the higher performance of AN over urea resulted in an average yield gain of 15% over first and second cut, with a wide variation in results achieved from all the ureatreated land, he adds. “Using Nitram [34.5% N] as the source of AN, the highest gain seen over urea [46% N] was 30% in 2015 with the same 210kg/ha N applied, at the same time, from the two different types of fertiliser. “AN plots averaged 10.2t/ha DM over the three years for first and second cut silages, while on the urea plots this was just 8.9t/ ha DM.” When an AN-based true granular sulphur compound is used, the results can be even more impressive, he says. “Over three years of trials between 2016 and 2018 at Barthomley, Cheshire, we saw an average 20% improvement in grazed grass

yields from using SingleTop [27N + 12 SO3] over AN, and in silage this was about 23%. “Combined three-year yield over first and second rotations for the grazed grass with SingleTop was around 12.1t/ha compared to 10.1t/ha for AN – a 2t/ha gain – while in first cut silage the improvement was around 3.5t/ha from 15.7t/ha to 18.2t/ha DM.

Such compounds, alongside slurries and manures, are the ideal way to restore nutrient levels in high production systems MARK GARRETT

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Independent trials prove value of AN in grassland JAmmonium Nitrate (AN) produces a 12.5% improvement in Nitrogen Fertiliser Use Efficiency (NfUE) and an 11% lift in silage crude protein compared to urea, according to new independent peer reviewed trials from five UK sites. “NfUE is the best indicator of how effectively applied fertiliser is utilised, explains CF Fertilisers’ Mark Garrett. “The higher the value, the more N your silage or grazing is taking up from your bagged fertiliser and the less there is that is being lost from, or retained in, the system.” The combined results from Rothamsted, ADAS, SRUC, Edinburgh University, Bangor University and AFBINI (Agri-

food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland) confirm previous findings from CF Fertilisers that AN outperforms urea convincingly across the UK, he adds. “Applying Nitram (34.5%N) on grassland produced an average NfUE of 81%, while plots receiving urea achieved just 72%. “At an application rate of 320kg N/ha, the independent trials showed AN gave on average 8% more grass yield than urea resulting in a lift of 0.9t DM/ha – 11.6t DM/ha compared to 10.7t DM/ha. “The trials also showed AN lifted silage crude proteins by on average 1.5% points from 13.5% to 15%.”

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We are constantly reminded of the need to cut farm approach is through the way we feed our cows. Pete director of Sustainable Farming Systems at Aber ystw

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ow your claim is that the environmental footprint of dairying can be dramatically reduced by some pretty simple measures – what are these? Well, part is to do with the feeding of high sugar grasses (HSG) and the reduction in the nitrogen the animal produces in manures, and the other part relates to the importance of good slurry management.  

nitrogen in slurry. This alone can lead to a 10% reduction in the acidification potential of milk production, expressed per kilogram of energy-corrected milk. However, about three-quarters of the overall reduction in the acidification potential – which is up to 40% of the baseline – comes from changes in how we manage that slurry, and one-quarter comes from reducing the amount of nitrogen being lost by the cow itself.

First of all, what have these high sugar grasses got then? By feeding HSG we can get a reduction in the proportion of feed nitrogen that comes out the back end of animals in relation to conventional ryegrasses. That comes about by an improvement in the capture of feed nitrogen into milk protein with a smaller proportion coming out as urea in urine. And, of course, when that urea hits the ground it is converted to ammonia which is a pollutant gas in its own right, and it can also lead to the production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide.

Right let’s concentrate on the feeding aspect if we may. The theory behind it is that the rumen microbes are being supplied with more rapidly fermentable carbohydrates so they are better able to degrade that grass protein and utilise it, rather than excreting it?

OK, let’s get the slurry bit out of the way, although it is undoubtedly a major factor and I expect will feature largely in Defra’s Clean Air Strategy shortly, but that majorly comes from the use of slurry store crust formation and trailing shoe applicators? Yes, by feeding HSG we get a reduction in the proportion of feed nitrogen that is excreted in urine, which means there is less

If you capture that nitrogen as bug protein it means it is not absorbed as ammonia by the animal to be excreted as urea PROF JON MOORBY

15/07/2019 12:22

15/08/2019 11:23

Prof Jon Moorby INTERVIEW with IBERS’ trials.

cut farming’s environmental footprint, and one ows. Peter Hollinshead talks to Prof Jon Moorby, Aber ystwyth University, about what we can do.

r grasses can o use gases The so-called HSGs have an important role to play in that they help the rumen bugs capture the nitrogen that gets degraded from the feed and incorporate that into a form that animals can use for productive purposes, that is growing more bugs. So you are feeding the rumen to produce bugs more efficiently, and that is what gets used to produce meat and milk by the animal. If you capture that nitrogen as bug protein it means it is not absorbed as ammonia by the animal to be excreted as urea. So, what you are saying is that the protein intake of the cow, whatever its form, is not being utilised to the optimum if there is insufficient energy in the diet to enable the uptake of all that protein in the grass? Yes, protein in forages such as grass tend to be pretty speedily degradable and the energy in forage comes from things like fibre which is only made available relatively slowly. So, what you have in the rumen are proteins, which are degraded quickly, producing ammonia which can be taken up by the bugs, but the energy required by those bugs to make them grow may only be available relatively slowly. You then have an imbalance or an asynchrony. One way we can increase the efficiency of use of the protein is to give them a source of energy which is quickly available, and one such source is the water soluble carbohydrate in grass.

And the availability of that water soluble carbohydrate is in sync with the availability of the protein from the grass? The water soluble carbohydrate is by definition soluble in water, unlike starch which is also a good energy source but is not soluble in water, and therefore takes more time to be degraded to release energy for the bugs to use. What other feedstuffs would provide this ready source of energy? Would cereals, for example, serve that purpose as they will be in most concentrates and they are readily fermentable? Yes, but the great thing you have to remember about ruminant animals is that they convert things we can’t eat, like grass, to things we can eat, like meat and milk. So, what we need to be doing is making use of the things we can’t eat and feed less of those we can eat, like cereals. But would it be true to say we could use things like cereals and molasses to enable that protein extraction to go further than it would otherwise do? Cereals are a really good source of energy as they have lots of starch, which is fermentable but not quite as speedily fermentable as the water soluble carbohydrates. Traditionally we have increased the efficiency of use of dietary protein by feeding more starch which lifts milk protein as it allows the animals to use the dietary protein more efficiently.


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SPOTLIGHT I suppose what I am trying to find out is what farmers can do practically to make the optimum use of that grass protein coming in, apart from sowing all their leys to HSGs, to make sure they get the best use out of what the cow consumes? That is one of the problems farmers face as it is relatively difficult to make efficient use of grazed grass proteins. You can feed concentrates in the parlour or buffer feed at milking to allow animals to make better use of that protein in the grass. It is easier to formulate a diet for housed animals, as a properly balanced ration will probably be more efficient in terms of how much nitrogen it converts from feed into milk, than in the summer when cows are grazing. The only way you can really do that at grazing is through the choice of sward and the varieties of grass or other forages it contains.

To what extent are these water soluble carbohydrates (WSCs) preserved in silage? It is WSCs which help make the silage in the first place as it is what the bugs use to make the lactic acid to preserve the grass. You will tend to get a higher level of residual carbohydrates with HSG silage than with standard grasses, and they work in the same way as they do in fresh grass. One of the slight issues with this, of course, is that you might get problems with secondary fermentation with HSG silage, and that is why you need good silage management and also to choose an inoculant to help stabilise the silage, especially at feedout. Can we quantify the economic benefits from HSG grasses in terms of the greater protein utilisation over conventional grasses? An economic analysis that was done by colleagues at Bangor



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Cows grazing high sugar grass Aberdart.

University showed changing from conventional ryegrass swards to HSG could result in increased income of up to £115 per cow per year. Changes in manure storage and handling can be costly, but farmers could also save money in whatever form they currently sort and spread their slurry because there is less nitrogen to spread. Beyond the economic benefits, using HSG will reduce the environmental footprint as the cows will perform at least as well as they do on conventional grasses, but have the added benefit of capturing more nitrogen. To what extent would that urea excreted from a cow fed with conventional grasses be reduced with HSGs? The average EU figure for the capture of feed protein in milk is 28% – that means 28% of the feed protein gets incorporated into milk protein. That means 72% of feed protein gets excreted, and by feeding the HSG we have seen the capture of feed nitrogen as high as 37% and that gives a reduction from 72% to 63% of feed nitrogen excreted, which is around 10% in relative terms. Can you say how much more water soluble carbohydrates there are in the HSGs than conventional grasses, and are these generated in the plant at the expense of protein – in short are HSG grasses lower in protein?

At certain times of the day when the HSG has been photosynthesising and produced lot of fructans, which are the water soluble carbohydrates we are talking about, you can get a dilution in the other components of that grass. On grams per square metre basis there should be no difference, but on a percentage basis you may see a relative reduction in the protein in grass with lots of the water soluble carbohydrates in it. That doesn’t mean to say the animals will be eating less protein, they may be eating more or less protein, but what really matters is the efficiency with which that protein is used.

St St

So the water soluble grasses must be producing a greater mass per unit area than conventional grasses? Yes, the carbon is coming from carbon dioxide and if those grasses are photosynthesising more and storing that carbon as fructans, which is what they do, then the mass is greater in the HSGs than conventional grasses. You talked about the need to have sufficient energy to raise the efficiency of protein utilisation, and this can come from other feed like cereals, but is there a risk of acidosis by doing that? It depends how you feed your barley and wheat – you will get acidosis by feeding too much concentrate too quickly.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 13:16

• • • • •

SPOTLIGHT rumen of those fed HSGs has been higher, not lower, than those fed the control grasses. Why should that be? We are not entirely sure. It could be that the sugars are being used together with the protein to produce microbial protein and are not being made available to be fermented to produce acid. Having the two things going on together you do not get the ammonia produced or the acid produced.

Is there a way a farmer can achieve this efficiency by feeding something like molasses? Yes, you can use molasses at grazing but the classic way is by feeding a TMR as the cows will typically make more efficient use of feed nutrients in a mixed diet than when feeding ration ingredients separately.

Is there a higher risk of acidosis to animals fed higher HSG compared to conventional ryegrasses? This is something people have been concerned about and all I can say is that from the work we have done where we have measured the pH in the rumen of animals fed HSGs compared to those fed conventional grasses, the pH in the

Let’s look at it from the other end – are we feeding too much protein to our dairy cows and causing greater urea emissions? Yes, traditionally farmers would be feeding 18% CP and this has come down to 16% CP in recent years, and this seems to be about the optimal concentration. When you are feeding legumes such as white and red clover, the concentration of protein in them can be greater than 16% and un-

less you do something to help the microbes to capture that protein, then a lot of the N in those will be excreted from the back end of the animal contributing to pollution. But people will feed protein as quite simply they know they will get results? Yes, we are overfeeding protein as we know it gets results. We’ve known for a long time that feeding higher concentrations of proteins in the diet encourages feed intake and the animals will produce more milk. We have also known for a long time that protein isn’t always used efficiently – as I say only 25-28% of that protein in the diet gets incorporated into milk protein. What we should be doing is finding ways of feeding more precisely, allowing individual animals to use that protein efficiently and therefore reduce the amount they excrete. We need to be measuring what we are feeding and what the

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SPOTLIGHT animals are doing with what they are getting, so that we can reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farms. You talk of environmental footprint, can you tell me what agriculture’s overall contribution is to global warming? In the UK the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions is roughly 10%, and that figure has increased over recent years, not because agriculture is necessarily producing more greenhouse gases, but because other sectors have reduced the amount they produce, and therefore the relative proportion coming from agriculture has increased. Is fertiliser one of the biggest problems? Well, it certainly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. There are three gases we are talking about – one is carbon dioxide, one is methane which is produced mainly

through enteric fermentation and management of manures, and the third is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide comes from fertilisers and also from nitrogen excreted from livestock. On the whole, agriculture is generally regarded as being neutral in the amount of carbon dioxide it produces, but it does produce methane and nitrous oxide. And those are two of the most powerful pollutants in terms of greenhouse gases? Yes, methane has what is called a global warming potential of 25 times that of carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide has a global warming potential of 298. The thing is methane gets degraded when it is in the atmosphere and those global warning figures assume they are in the atmosphere for 100 years, but they don’t actually exist for that long as the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is around 10 years.

“We do need to reduce the emissions from livestock, but we also need to produce food, and livestock are very good at that,” says Prof Jon Moorby.

So have those who advocate the reduction in meat consumption as helping reduce greenhouse gases got it wrong? There is some truth in the argument but they don’t seem to have considered the benefits of livestock which is to convert some of the things we can’t eat like grass, straw and brewers grains into things we can eat. I think that the figure on a global basis is that 78% of the livestock diet comprises things humans can’t eat. And do you accept some of those greenhouse gases may be coming from things like air travel, but controlling that may not be an easy political stance to take? Livestock production certainly has a part to play, but I think there is definitely a political element in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases from these things which needs to be considered in addition to that coming from agriculture. To what extent do you think technology will come to our aid in solving the greenhouse gas problem – we have just heard that Sweden, I think it was, is industrially starting to remove carbon dioxide from the air and neutralise it by pumping it into limestone rocks? Well, I think your guess is as good as mine, but technology does have a role to play partly to capture the emissions of carbon dioxide but also to reduce the amount

44 **DF Sep p40 41 42 43 44 Spotlight.indd 6

formed in the first place. We do need to reduce the emissions from livestock, but we also need to produce food, and livestock are very good at that, but as I said earlier there are ways we can feed them to reduce their emissions intensity. Now you are director of sustainable farming systems here at the university – what is the biggest single thing agriculture can do to make an impact on global warming, and some say that by locking up the carbon, agriculture has an opportunity to offer a solution to global warming? Agricultural certainly has a role to play in capturing carbon emitted from other industries, and the potential of grassland is really high, but the thing is a lot comes off again when we feed it to animals. Finally, we have heard that we have had the warmest year and wettest year in the last decade, so how optimistic are you that we can resolve this global warming issue before it wreaks the disastrous consequences we are constantly being warned about? I am very pessimistic about that to be frank, and I think it is a political question and a lot of politicians are just ignoring it. Greenhouse gas emissions are not all down to livestock as there are a lot of other issues to be tackled, but there doesn’t seem to be the political will to enable that to happen.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 13:17

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Meet our Dairy Innovator of the Year finalists

It has been a tough challenge to whittle entries down, testament to the hard work, innovation and dedication taking place up and down the country. We are proud to introduce the 2019 Dairy Innovator of the Year finalists as part of this year’s British Farming Awards. JONNY AND CARRIE BURRIDGE R.D. AND J. BURRIDGE, NORFOLK THIRD generation farmers Jonny and Carrie Burridge are working hard to utilise their four robotic milkers to maximum effect in a bid to safeguard their family farm. As members of Arla UK’s Pathfinder programme, the couple are keen to share and learn best practice, improve their farm’s profitability, animal welfare and work efficiency. They have cut costs and improved the smooth running of the business, which produces 2.3 million litres of milk a year from their 230-cow herd of mostly Holsteins with a few Jerseys. “We hold the welfare of our cows as the highest priority and we are proud to give the cows a choice to be indoors or outdoors for most of the year,” says Carrie, who is mother to sons Jenson and Ayrton. Always looking to improve cow comfort, they hope to install automatic scrapers to assist in hygiene and cow foot health. Alongside robotics, the pair have invested in an automatic

calf feeder and, through better colostrum management, have reduced calf mortalities by 90% and liveweight gains have increased. Further investment has been made in a milk analyser to provide relevant data to assist in reducing vet costs, antibiotics use and boosting welfare. Such has been its success, vet costs have been reduced from 1.3ppl to 0.5ppl, and continue to decrease. The business welcomes schools on-farm and is an Open Farm Sunday host, which this year welcomed more than 6,500 visitors in just one day. The money raised, along with that from other events held each year, is donated to mental health charity Mind, along with 10 other local charities. With the growing numbers of visitors on-farm, a vending machine will sell pasteurised milk to boost sales and bridge the link from farm to consumer. Carrie says: “We have a motto: we never stop learning and we work as a team to try and build resilience within our dairy farm business.”


BRIDDLESFORD Lodge Farm, near Wootton Common, is no run-of-the-mill dairy unit. Not only is the 90-hectare (220-acre) farm home to the 140-cow Briddlesford pedigree Guernsey herd, it also has a farm shop, a cafe/restaurant, state-of-the-art milk processing facilities and a visitors’ centre. The family resigned from the wholesale market to reconnect with consumers and take back control of their milk price in 2017 to process all their own milk. Co-partner and fourth generation farmer Paul Griffin oversees management of the dairy herd, plus 100 followers, at the unit. All cows are direct descendants of the original 12 cows which Paul’s great-grandfather Charles brought to the farm in 1923, and the awardwinning herd is now one of the highest ranking breed herds in the world based on a yield of fat and protein. The breed society has selected young bulls from the herd for stud, and their genetics are now available globally. The herd is managed on a conventional total mixed ration-based

system, with cows housed during winter and at grass from early spring. Cows calve all-year-round to produce a relatively level supply of milk. Average yield for the NMR-recorded herd is 6,295 litres at 5.19% fat and 3.44% protein, with a somatic cell count of less than 200,000 cells/ml. Paul says: “We like to produce as much milk from grass as possible, but run them on a fairly high input system.” New cow housing was built during the 1990s to facilitate an expanding herd, along with major investment in milking equipment. The business now supplies many outlets directly both on and off the Isle of Wight. All milk is processed on-farm into either fresh milk and cream or a range of dairy products, including five different hard and soft cheeses, as well as butter. Paul says all the different aspects of the business are crucial to its survival. “The shop and cafe would not exist without the farm and I think the dairy herd would struggle without the shop and cafe. They add value to our milk, raise our profile and bring in an essential stream of additional income.”

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JIMMY PRITT JWP FARMING, LEICESTERSHIRE JIMMY Pritt has always had a passion for dairying and owns a contract dairy farming business delivering an agreed farming policy with the owner of Whetstones Pastures Dairy. Experience and knowledge has been gained through previous positions, such as managing and driving improvements on a high yielding herd and driving system

BEN, ADAM AND SAM SPENCE THE HOME FARM, YORKSHIRE AN overhaul of the family dairy business has meant one small dairy farm is setting out to provide income for three farming families. Brothers Ben and Adam Spence undertook the construction of a new cubicle house and parlour, and a decision to move into selling milk and cheese direct to consumers has proven pivotal. The installation of a 24:24 rapid-exit parlour has helped to improve productivity, animal health and milk hygiene, contributing to a high quality milk supply from the 90-strong Friesian herd. It has also vastly reduced time spent milking. Ben says: “We aim to be renowned for having happy, healthy cows which produce a smaller volume of high quality milk, rather than push our cows for yield.” Running the farm with their parents and Ben’s wife Sam, the family supplies milk into Wensleydale Creamery, but has recently diversified into selling fresh milk and shortly

changes as partner in a mixed family farming business. He now manages a 107-hectare (264-acre) all grass farm and has increased the block calving herd size from 200 to 350, invested in more cubicles and housing, cow tracks and a new water system for paddocks. In addition, he has built additional slurry storage and put in a New Zealand-

style 24:48 milking parlour and collecting yard, which was completed in 2017. The herd is run on a flying herd basis with in-calf heifers and some cows purchased as replacements. Jimmy, who graduated from Harper Adams in 2006, says: “The goal of the business is to produce milk profitably, which I achieve through the good management and utilisation of the

grassland, 70% of which was reseeded using cultivars suited to our system.” Yields average 6,163 litres with 3,927 litres from forage, at 4.5% butterfat and 3.7% protein, and milk is sent to a local cheesemaker to produce Stilton. As chairman and member of the Profiteers discussion group and an advocate of sharing knowledge and participating in discussion groups to improve business, he has a grazing plan which is reviewed every two years, does weekly grass walks, and does forward budgeting of winter feedstocks. He says: “Working with others is a key part of my business and I learn from the best. I am lucky to a have a great team and believe I am now running a business that can survive longer term challenges. “In the future I hope to achieve the dream of farming in my own right, to own a dairy herd and to be proud of a profitable business.”

the first two months alone, they saved 4,000 plastic bottles from landfill by encouraging the use of recyclable glass. From the outset of the renovation work, the team regularly engages with the public on farming and food production methods, and is heavily active on social media, sharing their daily life on-farm with 9,000 followers. Looking ahead, the family has recently finished completion of a cheese processing room and will begin

production of a raw milk farmhouse cheese in the coming weeks to sell from their mobile trailer. This has been done with the support of their local Wensleydale Creamery. Sam says: “We have bought four Montbeliarde heifers, as we understand the characteristics of the milk they produce is ideal for cheesemaking. We want to produce the first farmhouse raw milk Wensleydale cheese and will be carefully planning our route to market.”

Left to right: Ben, Sam and Adam Spence.

cheese directly to consumers. Converting a horse box into a small farm shop, the vehicle is driven to different Wensleydale villages each day of the week, including their vets, the creamery and local pub. About 80-100 litres of milk is sold each day (about 5% of production) at £1/litre, although customers in their loyalty scheme buy it for 90ppl. Milk is sold in reusable glass bottles which the customers return to refill. In

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UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW This year’s event looks set to be even bigger and better than ever as the show goes from strength to strength. Plenty for everyone with impressive cattle line-up, trade stands with the latest launches and full program of seminars. 50 ROTARY PARLOUR 58 CALF HEALTH Bringing technology into herd management

Making most of early feed efficiency

60 CROSS-BREEDING Norwegian Red makes its mark on Holsteins


Getting show team ready for big day

Formulate autumn ration that balances your forage Understanding total ration dry matters and balancing them to meet milk contract requirements will be key this autumn. Dr Robin Hawkey, from Mole Valley Farmers, gives us his thoughts.


an you get smarter at how you ration cows and challenge yourself to improve feeding practices this

autumn? Dr Robin Hawkey, senior nutritionist for Mole Valley Farmers, believes all farmers have the potential to improve ration efficiencies, but only by understanding exactly what they are feeding and balancing accordingly. “Early indications suggest silages that were taken earlier in the season are generally drier than last year and perhaps slightly lower in nutritional content,” he says. “On a simple grass silage-based system, it would be estimated a typical first cut silage would support approximately maintenance plus eight-10 litres. However what is most notable is the large variation in silage quality between farms.” Of around 600 Mole Valley Farmers customers’ first cut grass silages analysed by mid-July, the wettest tested at around 12% dry matter up to a high of 65%. (See Table 1). This range was hidden by a strong average of 33.7%. Lactic acid levels were also more variable than normal within the same cut

48 **DF Sep p48 49 UKDD.indd 2

sample group. The average was 73.4g/kg with the lowest at 2 and the highest at 153. “That affects fermentation,” explains Dr Hawkey. “Dry, low lactic silages will increase the risk of face heating and wastage on the face. In comparison, high lactic silages will challenge rumen pH and milk butterfats.” Testing The first port of call is testing silages to determine the state of play on a specific farm. Dr Hawkey then suggests farmers ‘try and make the maize harvest work in their favour’ to complement whatever grass silage stocks they have. That might mean taking maize slightly later and drier to complement a wet, high lactic first cut, or taking it greener and wetter to

work with a dry, low lactic acid and fermentable carbohydrate silage. Obviously the ability to do this will depend largely on weather and contractor availability. Farms with low lactic silages, that will be prone to secondary fermentation, should also avoid leaving mixes in the wagon for long periods or consider doing a couple of TMR mixes a day to avoid heating. Dr Hawkey believes monitoring the dry matter of the TMR itself is another way producers can improve feeding efficiencies. This can be achieved by using an on-farm dry matter tester or ‘mini oven’, which can be purchased for about £200£300. He urges farmers to test the dry matter of the total diet every couple of weeks or every time cow feeding behaviours start to change.

Dr Robin Hawkey

“For example, if you put out a six-tonne mix and all of a sudden they leave a lot or clear it easily, or if milk goes up or down, or cows look hollow – that is when checking the dry matter of the ration can be hugely beneficial,” he explains. In his experience, total ration dry matters can vary significantly, which in turn can influence rumen function and dry matter intakes. Simply leaving the filled wagon

Table 1: Mole Valley Farmers early first cut grass silage analysis results (600 samples)

2018 mean Dry matter (%) 33.2 Metabolisable Energy (MJ) 11.1 D value 69 Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) 45.6 Crude protein (%) 15.8 pH 4.4 Lactic acid (g/kg) 79.4

2019 mean 33.7 11.4 71 46.6 15.1 4.3 73.4

2019 min 2019 max 11.8 65 9.1 12.2 57 76 35 71 7.4 23.9 3.5 6.0 2 153

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:00


UK Dairy Day 2019 rInternational Centre, Telford TF3 4JH rWednesday, September 11, 2019. 8am-5.30pm rFree entry and parking

out on a warm day can increase dry matters, whilst leaving a mixer wagon out overnight in the rain can lower them significantly. For example, if 100 cows are provided with six tonnes of a TMR with an energy density of 12MJ/ kgDM, at 46% dry matter, they could consume 27.6kg DMI a day and receive 331MJ of energy to support M+48 litres. However, if dry matter drops to 43%, DMI will drop to 25.8kg a cow a day. This will deliver 309MJ of energy which will only support M+44 litres. “In practice, high yielding cows will still attempt to milk to their potential, but the ‘lost’ energy will be reflected in body condition, milk quality and fertility,” he says. By understanding total diet dry matters, tweaks can be made to ensure cows are being fed exactly what they are being rationed for and performance is maintained. All the usual best practice feed management advice also still applies, such as pushing up feed at least six times a day to encourage intakes and cleaning troughs out thoroughly. Dr Hawkey also believes all farmers could benefit from approaching protein feeding differently and thinking about metabolisable protein and amino acid profiles, rather than crude protein levels.

Monitoring the dry matter of the TMR itself is another way producers can improve feeding efficiencies, says Dr Hawkey.

Table 2: Alternative crude protein diets Basic diet, rape, soya, 8.5kg 18% compound Dry matter intake per head (DMI) 24.0kg Forage DMI 13.1kg Metabolisable Energy (ME) 285MJ Metabolisable Protein supply (MP) 2890g Methionine (% of requirement) 87% Crude Protein (CP) 18.4% Note: Assuming 40 litres, 50/50 grass and maize silages

Protein balanced diet, 8.5kg 16% compound 24.0kg 13.1kg 285MJ 2849 100% 17.8%

“Crude protein is useful, but we can look at protein in a lot more detail and look at that which is actually used by the cow,” he explains. Protein “By supplying the cow with her exact amino acid and metabolisable protein requirements, we can feed lower levels of overall crude protein. (See Table 2). This helps reduce ration costs and also has a positive impact on the environment as we are not losing excess nitrogen out the back of the cow. Better protein dynamics and nitrogen efficiencies also leads to lower milk ureas and better liver function.” Dr Hawkey says ultimately it comes down to pulling together a diet that is balanced for energy and protein so it is utilised effectively by the cow. “Understanding milk contract requirements and ensuring diets are balanced to meet those requirements is also a must.” rSpeak to the Mole Valley team at Telford. Alternatively, call The Feed Line on 01278 444 829.

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49 16/08/2019 15:10

UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW Adopting management technology is helping farmers like David Reynolds understand and improve their herd performance.

Central hub collates data from high capacity rotary


r Reynolds is a third-generation dairy farmer and milks 750 cows with his father, Christy, on his property in Gillstown, County Meath, about 40 minutes from Dublin. He has three dairy farms with nine people working across them and this year is building a new Waikato Centrus Rotary parlour. The 64-bail platform will be fitted with Waikato Milking Systems’ NaviGate Management System, and should be in full operation by September. Using NaviGate to track the herd’s performance will be key to managing the large number of cows at a time when labour is hard to source. NaviGate is able to monitor the milking performance of each cow, its weight, heat cycle and health, and will also automatically draft cows when they exit the parlour. It gathers data from cows via the technology built into the platform, and this information is captured at a

David Reynolds’ cows in the collecting yard already wear the Waikato heat detection collars.

central hub which becomes the brains of the dairy parlour. Console This data can be sent to operator console screens installed anywhere around the dairy, and it is at such a console that Mr Reynolds can review the information and make decisions to improve the overall perform-

ance of his herd. And since it is real-time milking data, it will be possible to identify and respond to alerts there and then. For example, NaviGate can identify high conductivity milk, via the SmartD-TECT milking device on the platform, and will let the operator know if there is any treatment needed. It also records live weights,

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and allows the adjustment of feed rates to suit the animal’s requirements and final milk quality. “For us, I would say having the feed-to-yield data on the NaviGate system would be the big advantage,” predicts Mr Reynolds. “We didn’t have that on the old parlour and it tied us up, especially feeding during summer.

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The weigh scale which will be part of the new installation.

Outside of the parlour, Mr Reynolds will have the benefits of the NaviGate Sort Gate, a three-way drafting system to automatically draft cows based on preselected lists, set up before or during milking. The Sort Gate will give him peace of mind knowing that the right cows will be waiting in the right yard, and it will do away with the need to have workers

NaviGate operator console which will collate all the herd management data.

manually drafting the animals as they come off the milking platform. Collars Mr Reynolds already uses Waikato’s NaviGate heat collars, which will wirelessly connect to the NaviGate Dairy Management System whether the cows are in the parlour milking or out in the field grazing. The collars improve heat detection and pregnancy rates by monitoring each cow’s behaviour, comparing this to its normal behaviour patterns and to its peers. The collars can also monitor the health of a cow and enables early detection of sick animals, which in turn saves on veterinary and breeding costs. “We didn’t want to take a step backwards from where we were with our current parlour, and I think our new parlour will be a big factor in attracting people looking to work here.” rWaikato Milking Systems will be at UK Dairy Day in Hall 2, site 38.

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SPONSORED CONTENT One Lancashire dairy farmer believes the technique he employs of using SexedULTRA 4M semen, in combination with genomic testing, is highly relevant to all pure-bred Jersey herds which rear their own replacements.

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aul Ingham of Laneside Farm, Waddington says: “Conventional semen does not interest me at all now.” With a herd of 152 pedigree Jerseys, his reasons are clear; he simply cannot stomach the idea of shooting low value Jersey bull calves. “I could not bring myself to do it,” he says. As a result, he has stepped away from using conventional semen, opting instead for a combination of sexed dairy and beef semen. The aim is to avoid producing pure-bred Jersey bulls and instead only rear replacements or higher value beef calves. At the end of last year, Mr Ingham took this to the next level, choosing to genomic test all heifers prior to breeding age. He could then use this information to choose the highest genetic merit females to put to sexed. The approach was part of an Arla/Cogent trial looking at ways


to maximise breeding efficiencies on farm. The trial used SexedULTRA 4M, which uses twice the number of female semen cells per straw compared to traditional sexed semen. This technology brings conception rates closer

You are breeding for everything to be better all the time Paul Ingham

to those achieved on conventional semen. This was a trial which was particularly attractive to Mr Ingham who felt conception rates had taken a hit when using previous traditional sexed semen. “We seemed to use a lot of straws per pregnancy. It did seem that we went through quite a lot of semen for what we were serving,” he explains. This meant conception rates had dropped to about 35% in cows and 56% in heifers. (See tables). Despite this, he was still committed to the sexed strategy. “I would have still carried on with it as you cannot do anything with bull calves. It is money down the drain if you get a bull calf,” he comments. At the same time, he was all too aware of the negative impact on herd fertility and the cost associated with using more sexed semen straws. However, since shifting to using SexedULTRA 4M,


**DF Sep p52 53 Cogent (Signed off).indd 2

13/08/2019 11:05


SexedULTRA 4M Previous sexed Conventional


51% 35% 47%


115 124 60


59 43 28


SexedULTRA 4M Previous sexed


63% 56%


49 59


31 33

his fears have been put to rest. Results show that conception rates are not only better than the previous traditional sexed semen used, but also higher than those seen using conventional semen too. (See tables). Heifers – classed as maiden and first lactation animals – are achieving conception rates of 63% to SexedULTRA 4M. Cows are at 51%. Mr Ingham comments: “The conception rates look good. It is definitely going in the right direction. The figures give me the confidence to use SexedULTRA 4M. They do not give me any reasons to worry.” Mr Ingham runs the Ribble Jersey herd in a family partnership. Cows yield 7,500 litres per year at 5.7% fat and 3.9% protein. In the last couple of years, only the best cows would be put to sexed, with a proportion to conventional and beef then used. Now, all cows are served to sexed, unless they are Johne’s positive. They will generally get two or three chances to sexed and then be put to an Aberdeen Angus, British Blue or Hereford sire.


On the heifers, results from genomic testing have been used to override lower reliability mid-parent averages. Heifers were then ranked according to the farm’s Cogent Custom Index (£CCI). The CCI breeding index is produced for individual farms after taking into account their specific milk contract and breeding requirements. From this, the top 70% of heifers were selected for service to SexedULTRA 4M. The rest were AI’d to Aberdeen Angus. Moving forward, Mr Ingham believes genomic testing should help drive improvements.

Paul Ingham (left) and Cogent genetics consultant Alan Robson. “Genomics is definitely the way forward. It ensures the best animals within the herd are accurately defined, allowing more informed breeding decisions to be made – it should save us money in the long term.” In addition to genomic testing, Mr Ingham began the Cogent Precision service on farm just over four years ago. He wanted to improve technical performance and to place a greater focus on fertility, so he employed Cogent Reproductive Specialist Liz Guest who currently manages the day-to-day reproduction and fertility work. Since joining Cogent Precision, the pregnancy rate at Laneside Farm has increased to 31% with a conception rate of 42%. He also utilises the Cogent PrecisionMATCH service, where all cows are scored for 18 traits by a PrecisionMATCH evaluator. Females are then correctively mated based on the farm’s breeding aims. When it comes to the heifers which have been genomic tested, their genomic breeding values will be combined with the phenotypic data

Paul Ingham with Precision reproductive specialist Liz Guest.

BREEDING INFORMATION l SexedULTRA 4M bulls used: Got Maid, Doyle, Taupe, Wilbert, Headliner, Chinook, Goldtop l Beef sires used: Dubliner, Dead Center, Onyx and Daffy l The top 10% of heifers averaged £288 PLI l The top 50% of heifers averaged £173 PLI l In one generation the genetic gain for the heifer group improved by £30 £CCI over 12 months to account for inbreeding and various other economically important traits. Mr Ingham will sit down with the Cogent team to choose a number of bulls to meet his breeding aims. (See box). “Obviously, we are looking to keep milk quality and litres up there, and Type. We want good, strong cows,” he explains. The aim is to produce cows which are strong in the body, with good legs and strength in the chest. A good udder with good teat placement and teats that are not too short is also important considering cows are milked through two robots. Mr Ingham believes the use of sexed semen ‘is absolutely the way to go’ in a Jersey herd rearing its own replacements, and explains that ‘ultimately I am making genetic progress while avoiding the unsavoury task of disposing of bull calves’.

SEPTEMBER 2019 ***DF Sep p52 53 Cogent (Signed off) (CORRECT).indd 3

53 15/08/2019 14:52

UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW Unusually, it is claimed this year’s silage is showing signs of excess C18, which could lead to a crash in winter butterfat levels. Mark Hall, Premier Nutrition’s TMS manager, explains.

Producers warned about slump in winter butterfat


hile C18 is just one of the groups of fatty acids within grass silage, excess levels can cause substantial butterfat depression with the potential to wipe out profitability on many UK dairy farms. Mr Hall explains: “The cow has a finite capacity to produce C16, responsible for the production of butterfat. However, if her system is flooded with C18, particularly relevant on farms where diets are predominantly forage-based, then

instead she will divert resources to milk production and butterfat levels will crash.” Unfortunately, tests for C18 levels are extremely specialist, so farmers are advised to be vigilant with visual inspections. “It is really important that farms are alert and scrutinising milk data when transferring to new crop grass silage,” Mr Hall warns. “It is worth noting that where we do see a significant drop in butterfat levels, this may not be down to acidosis in the rumen, and muck will often be very consistent

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If the cow’s diet is flooded with C18, then butterfat production may suffer.

leading to some confusion on-farm as to what is causing the depression in butterfat. Monitoring each cow’s output will help to spot important change indicators.” Quality If farms are suspicious that C18 may be influencing milk quality levels and production, Mr Hall advises there are three things to speak to your feed adviser about. The first is to see whether increasing the fibre component in the diet will increase the cow’s natural production of C16 through acetate production. The second is to investigate

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the possibility of reducing starch levels to get the rumen bugs digesting as much fibre as possible. And thirdly to see whether it’s worth feeding straight C16 in the hope that the cow uses this directly for butterfat production. Vigilance will be the watchword this autumn when changing to new crop forages, and it is important any indicators should be acted upon immediately. rFor more information regarding C18 and its effect on milk production, visit the Premier Nutrition stand at UK Dairy Day – H135, Hall 1.

It is really important that farms are alert and scrutinising milk data MARK HALL

SEPTEMBER 2019 15/08/2019 11:17


New genotyping service launched


MR will be launching what is claimed to be the UK’s first genomic testing service available on subscription at UK Dairy Day. Producers will pay a monthly fee based on the anticipated number of heifers to be tested in the following 12 months. There will also be an option to add in the cost of testing all heifers at enrolment and to spread this cost across the year, which will be of particular interest to those starting genomic testing. According to NMR’s Richard Miller: “Total Herd Genomics [THG] is aimed at NMR recording producers. It avoids big up front costs when producers start using genomic tests for managing

their herds and it streamlines the process on farm.” NMR is offering an initial 5% discount on all herds enrolling on the NMR’s new THG service by October 31, 2019. This includes enrolments taken at the Dairy Show, Shepton Mallet, as well. Subscription The THG subscription covers testing, support and sampling supplies. Producers are offered a choice of sampling units: either tissue sampling units to be sent to them after each milk recording, or for Defra-approved tags with built-in genotype vial units. Both options can include a BVD testing facility. Mr Miller says: “Once a 12-month period is completed,

Tissue samples being taken for genomic testing.

we will reconcile fees against completed tests and issue a fee report with the appropriate credit or debit as required.” Subscribers to THG also have access to the online genomic

reporting and management tools, NMR InGENEious and Zoetis SearchPoint. rVisit NMR’s stand at UK Dairy Day or the Dairy Show, or contact 03330 043 043.


With just a few drops of milk you can: • Find non-pregnant cows as early as 28 days post-insemination

• Confirm pregnancy status throughout gestation • Take timely action to re-breed cows • Improve reproductive performance in the herd* *UK studies show that using milk samples for automated pregnancy confirmation (70 -110 days post-insemination) could significantly improve reproductive performance

“The test is a very good management tool. It helps veterinarians to concentrate more on herd health and invest their time on the farm in a more efficient way.” Mr and Mrs Phillips, 184, Jerseys and Holsteins

Contact your Milk Recording Organisation or visit

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p55 NMR.indd 3

55 13/08/2019 11:07


Selecting maize varieties th Choosing the best of the 2020 recommended maize varieties and building ‘balanced’ portfolios will maximise reliability and forage quality, according to Grainseed’s Wilson Hendry.

The ultimate objective has to be to produce consistently high volumes of top quality forage WILSON HENDRY

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dvice on how to maximise forage resources by balancing maize variety types to achieve the best combination of yield and quality will be available at the Grainseed stand. The company’s Wilson Hendry says: “The ultimate objective for any dairy farmer has to be to produce consistently high volumes of top quality forage, and achieving this across a range of very different years with variable growing conditions.” Selecting a range of complementary varieties is a good starting point. “The idea being that if one suffers due to unfavourable weather, the others will counteract the loss. “Use heat units as an initial guide and choose a strong variety, maybe with a lower heat unit threshold than your average so it will finish fully, and always make sure it is suited to your soil type. “Aim for 40-60% of your acreage to be this variety and, if you are in a good area, you can then add others that can make full use of the average available heat units knowing that you will have a good supply of energy from your primary crop. “If you are in the East, or an area with less than average rainfall, you should also consider adding a drought tolerant variety like Marco.” Balancing varieties to complement each other at feeding is another good approach, believes Wilson Hendry. “The new variety Legolas, for example, is the highest yielding variety on the 2020 BSPB Forage Maize Descriptive List for Less Favourable Areas with an exceptional 108% of control – the next closest is 104%. “It is a versatile group 7

Legolas is a new, high yielding variety and selecting a range of complementary varieties is a good starting point.

variety that will grow well on a wide range of soils, stays green through the growing season and has good fusarium resistance. It is a great variety for good maize land where yield is important. “But while it has got a good dry matter at 30.9%, there are varieties with higher feeding quality in terms of starch and digestibility, so it would be a good idea to grow Legolas alongside some of these.” Control Absalon and Bonnie are varieties that both have yields of 104% of control in the new 2020 list, with energy yields of 211,000 and 214,000 MJ/ha respectively, and these would be ideal partners, he says. “Absalon also has 60% cell wall digestibility and good standing power at 7.7, so it would compliment Legolas perfectly both agronomically and in the clamp.” “In more marginal areas where achieving 30% dry matter is always a challenge, then Picker or Lovely would be good companions. Lovely is only

SEPTEMBER 2019 14/08/2019 16:52


es that will provide balance higher incidence of field lodging in the last two autumns, is an attribute increasingly appreciated by contractors as it allows significantly easier harvesting.

three days later maturing than Picker with a slightly higher

yield and one of the best standing ratings at 8.2, which with a

Ripeness “Picker is an ultra early maturity group 10 variety with an excellent cob ripeness score of 8.5. This allows crops to be harvested earlier, and it also has good fusarium resistance.” Fusarium resistance is going to feature increasingly in demand in the future, Wilson Hendry believes. “There were definitely crops that didn’t finish properly last year because they went into early senescence due to Fusarium rather than finishing properly. “As a breeder, we are very

careful to select only varieties that achieve 30-35% dry matter targets through reaching full maturity, so all the sugar is turned into starch and feeding value is maximised. “Some varieties achieve the same dry matter value through early plant death, often caused by fusarium infection, and this happens before all the plant sugars are converted into the all-important starch.” The only way you can ascertain whether this has happened is through analysis, and if starch and ME are low, producers have to buy in feeds to make up the shortfall, he says. rMore information on balancing maize varieties can be obtained from the Grainseed stand at the event.

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p56 57 UKDD Hendry.indd 3

57 13/08/2019 11:08

UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW Feeding more to young calves while they are at their most efficient feed conversion stage can actually reduce the overall cost of heifer rearing, and is all part of Volac’s approach to sustainable dairying systems.

Making most of early calf growth will reduce costs


sustainable dairy system is one that is not only socially and environmentally acceptable, but also profitable, says Dr Jessica Cooke, research scientist with Volac. She says: “From point of birth to leaving the milking herd, it is possible to target sustainability improvements throughout the animal’s life by managing her to her genetic potential. Clearly, getting her in-calf as quickly as possible is a key element within this, from both financial and feed resource points of view.” Owing to the fact feed efficiency rates plummet from 50% within the first two months of life to under 10% from 11 months until calving, Dr Cooke says it is essential key growth rates are met during the rearing period to minimise feed resource usage and costs in getting a heifer to calve down at 24 months of age. “The total cost of rearing a heifer from birth to 24 months is less when feeding six litres of milk replacer per day for up to two months, than when feeding four litres per day. Calves fed four litres of milk replacer per day will

Feed efficiency plummets from 50% as calves get older.

require excess feedstuffs during a time when they aren’t as efficient to reach the same body weight at first calving.” (See Table 1). Because heifer puberty and oestrus cycling are brought on by weight, rather than age, post-weaning nutrition is essential for growing heifers to also ensure they are cycling and ready for first breeding at 13 to 14 months of age. Bulling weight To achieve optimum bulling weight, the heifer must average around 0.75-0.85kg/day growth rate over this period, says Dr Cooke. However, the target body

weight at first breeding is dependent upon the mature body weight of cows in the herd. While getting a heifer to calve down efficiently is essential to supporting a sustainable dairying system, performance also needs to continue as the heifer transitions into the milking herd. To support multiple areas of cow performance no matter where she is in the production cycle, Dr Cooke says a multipurpose fat supplement balanced with an optimum ratio of C16:0 (palmitic acid) to C18:1 (oleic acid) will simultaneously partition nutrients to body condition plus egg and embryo develop-

Table 1 Milk per day (litres) Average daily gain Cost (£)

Conventional Optimum Enhanced 4 6 8 0.5kg/day 0.8kg/day 1kg/day 759 729 738

Source: A Bach, Department of Ruminant Production, IRTA, Spain

58 **DF Sep p58 UKDD Volac.indd 2

ment for fertility, as well as milk quality and milk yield. Relying less on bought-in feeds by producing more milk from higher quality forage will also impact on sustainability, says Volac, with potential savings of 1.5kg of concentrate per cow per day if silage quality can be improved by 3.6 D units, as well as potential improvements in cow health and fertility from feeding a more forage-based diet. As well as correct forage harvesting and clamp management contributing to improved silage quality and quantity, a proven additive also plays an integral part and can raise milk yield by 1.2 litres per cow per day, Volac claims. rFor more information on sustainable dairy farming, visit Volac on stand H153 in the Calf Rearing Zone.

Feed facts rFeed efficiency rates greatest during the first two months of life rFeeding six litres of milk replacer per day yields the most cost efficient liveweight gain rExtra 3.6kg D-value silage can save 1.5kg in concentrates rA balanced ratio of C16:0 and C18:1 fatty acids will simultaneously support body condition score, milk yield, milk quality and fertility

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:59

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UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW Devon-based dairy producers Matt and Sam Darke took a spurious route into the world of cross-breds. But as the two-way Norwegian cross Holstein cows continue to impress, there is little chance that the clock will be turned back.

Easy care cross-breds set to challenge Holstein herd


rothers Matt and Sam Darke are the fourth generation on the 404-hectare (998-acre) mixed unit at Coleridge Farm, Chillington, Devon. Alongside 162ha (400 acres) of arable land, 800 breeding ewes and beef, they focus on maintaining a high performance and highly efficient dairy unit. While the brothers’ father Richard continued to develop

the high performance Holstein herd, and to keep core cows to maintain the families they are especially proud of and that they can show, the rest of the herd is deviating more towards a crossbred cow. This move, from pure Holstein bloodlines, came about by accident in 2014. The housed, all-year-round calving herd was averaging 9,500 litres on a total mixed ration diet with concentrates fed to yield.


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Matt says: “We had a few high production cows that were struggling to get in-calf. I wanted to keep them in the herd, so I looked at fertility options. One route was to use Sperm Vital bulls on these cows.” Developed by Geno and used in a selection of their Norwegian Red sires, Sperm Vital is a technique applied to bull semen that increases its lifespan after insemination. Timing of insemination is therefore less critical and, as a result, fertility rates have been shown to increase. Fertility Matt says: “It worked well and these poorer fertility cows got in-calf. I knew we would get some dairy heifer calves too, but we were not sure what to expect. I guess we had some pre-conceived idea and did not really think they would be our kind of cow.” Moving on a couple of years, the Darkes introduced their first cross-bred heifers into the milking herd. Matt adds: “They were small, not like our bigger milky Holsteins.”

We want to breed as many heifers as we can MATT DARKE

Still unsure of their future in the herd, the Darkes thought they had better monitor their performance to see what they were doing, not only their production, but type, fertility and health traits. Matt says: “We are such traditional Holstein producers, I suppose we were looking for a glitch, but it soon became clear these cross-breds were slipping into our system very easily and performing well on all fronts. No trouble “In fact, we did not really notice them. They are no trouble and the only time we see them is for PD’ing or drying off.” With 25% cross-breds, some now in their third lactation, they

Two-way Norwegian Holstein cross-breds r25% lighter cow reduces intakes, but increases feed efficiency rTrouble-free easy-care cows rLittle difference in milk yield, but better milk quality

rImproved fertility and health rHigh rate of genetic improvement possible through use of sexed semen for both breeds

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:11


Holsteins and cross-breds are run as one herd.

are using a combination of Holstein and Norwegian Red sires in a two-way cross, using sexed semen on all heifers and most

cows, including some of the Hyvig RedX sexed semen such as Ranheim which is available through Genus ABS.

Matt says: “We want to breed as many heifers as we can, so we have the option to increase cow numbers. We could expand to

400, but nothing is set in stone yet. If we do, we would want to use home-bred heifers though.” He admits that the cross-bred

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UK DAIRY DAY PREVIEW cows have a lot to offer. “Bodyweight is about 10% lower in the Norwegian cross-breds, so they eat less and have better feed conversion rates. “We have also seen our vet bills go down and fertility increase. A ‘give away’ figure for us is days in-milk. We are now averaging 165 days, down from 180 days when we were 100% Holstein, and with the same culling rate. It is simply that cows are getting back in-calf quicker.” Less labour The brothers have noted that the cross-breds are less labour intensive. Matt says: “With lower inputs and similar outputs to the Holstein, it soon became clear these two-way cross-breds would be more profitable for us going forward.” The milking herd is zerograzed, which helps maxim-

**DF Sep p60 61 62 63 Genus.indd 4

ise home-grown forage and reduces bought-in protein costs. “Zero grazing is very efficient,” says Sam who takes care of grassland management and herd feeding, while Matt looks after the fertility work and herd management. Sam adds: “Cows get fresh grass from March to October, and it takes an hour a day to cut and feed out. We have very little wastage – cows are getting the full feed value from high quality freshly cut mixtures. “We then feed a TMR in winter based on grass silage, maize silage and wholecrop wheat grown on-farm.” Matt and Sam look to produce maintenance plus 14 litres from home-grown forage, then top up to 32 litres with an 18% protein concentrate, feeding a maximum of 11kg a day through robotic milkers. They feed about seven tonnes of fresh grass a day, and 5t of

Matt (left) and Sam Darke.

grass and maize silage, straw and wholecrop wheat in the TMR. Matt says: “We put the robots in about five years ago, really to increase our efficiency. We have four robots. I wouldn’t say there is less work, but we have far more flexibility.” Changes in herd management have seen very little shift

in milk yields. The average is still 9,500kg at 4% fat and 3.5% protein, based on NMR records. The herd’s average somatic cell count is 156,000 cells/ml and the calving interval is 365 days. This flexibility is valued by the brothers, who work alongside their father and one fulltime dairy worker to maintain

13/08/2019 11:14

PREVIEW UK DAIRY DAY Cows get fresh grass from March to October. It takes an hour a day to cut and feed out SAM DARKE

a healthy lifestyle balance. As cow numbers increase, so will the proportion of crossbreds at Coleridge Farm. Matt says: “We haven’t

needed to alter our system to suit them. The cross-breds fitted straight into a typical high performance Holstein system and brought big advantages too.” rMeet the Genus team at the UK Dairy Day stand to discuss your herd plans.

New look Hyvig on show JGenus ABS will be promoting its new look Hyvig cross-breeding programme at this year’s UK Dairy Day. It includes RedX sexed semen Norwegian Red sires and the newly launched Beef in Focus sires. Genus ABS’s Davy Dunlop says: “The technology behind both Genus ABS Holstein Sexcel and Hyvig RedX Norwegian Red sexed genetics is enabling farmers to use sexed semen with greater confidence. “It opens the door to both pure-bred and cross-bred herds

adopting a more ambitious breeding programme where they can decide, with more certainty, which cows to breed replacements from and which to breed to high performance beef bulls.” Genus ABS will also be promoting the development of an individual future-proof breeding plan for customers, along with its recently launched NuEra™ Profit Index, which can identify beef sires with a progeny delivering up to £94 more profit than the average, says the company.

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63 16/08/2019 10:00

For many farmers using new technology on-farm can be a daunting larger, progressive units. Clemmie Gleeson speaks to two farmers

pr w

Innovative thinking brings fa Driven by data and technology: Robert Ramsey, Angus JThe realisation that decisions on

his family farm near Arbroath, on the east coast of Scotland, were based on tradition rather than facts, inspired Robert Ramsay to gather as much data as possible. “I came out of university with an agricultural degree and went home to the farm,” he explains. “Basically everything was decided on what was traditionally being done. So I started yield mapping to test people’s assumptions.” He soon found ways to reduce costs on the 600ha arable farm, including implementing precision farming techniques. Since then he has developed his use of technology further and uses his expertise to help other farmers to innovate in their own businesses. “A lot of other farmers were also trying precision farming but didn’t really get on with it, so Jim Wilson and I started the precision farming company SoilEssentials in 2000.” On his own farm, Robert found most damage to yields was due to compaction. A move to controlled traffic boosted yields, while also

making a 40 per cent saving in time and fuel costs versus the conventional plough and drill system. “I spent about a year thinking and preparing and then just did it,” he says. Meanwhile, Soil Essentials was developing Scottish-specific programmes and the company grew steadily as word was shared about its successes. “Now we are working on many projects with other organisations, including Innovate UK and the European Space Agency,” he says.

Innovations The company’s innovations include TuberZone, which uses technologies including satellites and drones to gather and combine data. “So effectively what you can do is map every part of the potato field for projected yield and tuber size.” Another project with the James Hutton Institute is SoilBio, which uses soil testing, including DNA testing of nematodes, to give indications of soil health. “Jim and I are both practical farmers so don’t put anything out

Robert’s measures of success ● Continued enthusiasm for his work: “We do this out of enthusiasm. I am easily bored.” ● Technological success: “It’s a huge thrill to build products that are technically good.” ● Commercial success: “Products have to be technically good and commercially sound too.” ● Longevity: “We are proud to be a 100 per cent farmer-owned business, creating products and services to benefit our own industry.” ● Customer retention: “I hate losing a single customer so make sure we look after them all well.”

Bespoke solutions for modern dairy there we wouldn’t use ourselves. These initiatives are very much within reach of everybody, but they do require attention to detail and management.” Farmers often find it easier to be innovative with diversification projects than their farm business, says Robert. “I have noticed farmers can be quite conservative in the way they farm, but if they go into renewables or something else different they are very innovative.” He believes this is down to the time it takes for changes to the farm to be fully experienced. “Changing something can take five years for it to bed in,” he says. “Also everybody can see what you do. There are huge motivations to be very careful. However, if you build a biodigester or something, then you have already nailed your colours to the mast that you are doing something different. “That gives you the freedom to make mistakes and innovate. You will never be able to innovate unless you are willing to fail a bit sometimes.”

JSetting up a dairy herd from scratch with minimal capital required some extreme innovative thinking on the part of business partners Tom Foot and Neil Grigg. They looked for tenant farms from which to set up their herd but were unable to find anything with the required buildings. Eventually they secured a tenancy of 324 hectares, but the terms meant it was not viable to invest in permanent buildings. “There was a term that there would be no compensation for tenancy improvements at the end of the five years,” explains Tom. So they created a bespoke solution by adapting temporary parlours – typically rented to farmers for a month or so while their permanent parlours were refitted or updated. “It meant we could milk 500 cows with very little money. We had very little borrowing capacity, but with Neil’s accounting skills and my practicality we made it work.”

Adapted The duo visited a dairy farmer using an Arthur Hosier mobile parlour on the Somerset levels and adapted those ideas. “First we used hired parlours, then we built our own in years two and three. It has taken four years to evolve the system,” explains Tom. With the original Hosier system cows were in a smaller abreast parlour on the ground, but Tom’s redesigned version included hydraulics to make it more portable. He also greatly increased the size from eight-aside to 20-aside, enabling 40 cows to be milked at a time. By year three, the milking system was working well, although Tom continued to make changes such as having steps up to the parlour rather than ramps. Similarly, other aspects of management of the 800-cow herd have been tweaked in recent years, including details such as the size of the collecting yard used at milking times. “We initially kept them small, like conventional yards with the cows kept

For more information, visit 64


**DF Sep p64 65 Ag Den (signed off).indd 2

13/08/2019 11:15

ng rs

prospect and fuelled with a misconception it is only relevant for whose practical decisions have improved their overall business.

s farm businesses success

odern dairying: Tom Foot, Somerset

nice and tight, but this created lameness from the cows squabbling to get past each other. Now we’ve gone to a 2ha collecting yard. The cows continue to graze and lie down and they have space to move. They have a distinct pecking order so will come in to the parlour in their own order.” Initially the farm delivered milk to a local cheese factory using a tanker and chilling facilities which were loaned to them. “We did that for the first two years and then bought an army lorry with a tank, installed a washing system and hired a bigger chiller.”

Goals Business goals are regularly reviewed and refined but now, with the herd very much up and running, Tom plans to start milk recording and take steps to increase efficiency.

Tom admits he gets a ‘kick’ out of being different. “However that was not the reason we went down this route. You need to look at your business, and if the ‘recipe’ isn’t right then you need to look at everything you can – alternative ideas and opportunities. “Don’t be different for the sake of being different.” The main challenge of doing something innovative is not being able to learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes. “We have been learning from our own mistakes which has been a huge cost to the business,” says Tom. However, Tom and Neil have been members of a discussion group with other forward-thinking farmers. “It is so important to surround yourself with good people, listen to their advice and act on it,” Tom says.

Tom’s measures of success ● We are paying debt back ● The bank still supports us ● Other farmers are now asking

us to build systems for them ● Continued interest from others ● Staff retention

JAgri-Innovation Den is back for 2019 with an all new format and a fantastic business development prize package worth £40,000. The competition, supported by BASF and Farm491, is designed to showcase new developments in agricultural technology, and we are inviting entrepreneurs from across the UK to pitch their concept and explain why it could revolutionise UK farming. Ensuring new and progressive technologies have an opportunity to thrive is one of the biggest challenges faced by any industry, and Agri-Innovation Den aims to facilitate this growth within agriculture.

Developments We want to hear from individuals who are developing new technology for the agricultural industry. In return we are offering a bespoke publicity, mentoring and business support package, alongside access to a network of progressive industry professionals who can help take your business to the next level. Whether you have a pioneering piece of software, a working technology, a dynamic approach to precision data or a concept you are confident will make a difference to farmers, we want to hear all about it. Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at Farm491, Cirencester, on November 21, 2019. MORE INFORMATION

Win a prize package wort h

£40,000 What’s in the package? ● Print and digital advertising to the value of £30,000 across Farmers Guardian, Dairy Farmer and Arable Farming ● An innovative PR and marketing package, which includes the creation of bespoke content for your exclusive use, comprising a promotional video, article, press release and social media support ● Two delegate packages to the Oxford Farming Conference 2020, including conference tickets, accommodation, dinner and Emerging Leaders Programme participation ● Half-a-day of mentoring for the business in 2020 ● A 12-month membership of Farm491, including: one-to-one business support with the Farm491 team; access to AgriTech knowledge network; funding advice and building a scalable funding strategy; access to hot-desking facilities and meeting rooms; promotion on Farm491 site, newsletters and social media


For more information, visit SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p64 65 Ag Den (signed off).indd 3

65 13/08/2019 11:16


Blaise, Millie, Evie and Deborah with Sandyford Dark Fable – a candidate for show team selection.

Sandyford Ayrshires have had more showring success than most over the years, and will be keen to further demonstrate their class at this year’s UK Dairy Day. Jonathan Wheeler reports.

Sandyford Ayrshires gear up for showring scrutiny


ince the herd’s 2016 production sale, home-bred animals have increasingly been coming up against former Sandyford herdmates being shown by their new owners, and both sides have tasted plenty of success. Which is testimony to the careful breeding and selection that the Tomlinsons have put into their herd at their Charnwood Forest Farm, Nanpantan, Leicestershire. Blaise Tomlinson says: “In the year after the sale we reckon animals sold on that day won over 42 first prizes at national shows.” As to this year, the family

66 **DF Sep p66 67 UKDD Tomlinsons.indd 2

will probably take six animals to UK Dairy Day, and they will be cows that are ‘fresh and on form’. “Ideally they should be calved three or four months. They will always be among the best cows in the herd,” explains Mr Tomlinson. But with a show season lasting most of the year, there is always scope for animals to join the team. “We initially select them as heifers, and they stay with the show team for as long as they can – maybe until they have had six or seven calves. “The key to show success starts at home. A lot of people simply take animals out of the field and expect then to be ready

for showing three days later. “Once they are in our show team they stay there and are looked after separately for virtually the whole lactation.” Show team While in the show team they are housed in a straw yard, and only return to the main cubicle housing with the rest of the herd at the end of the season. While in the straw yard they are watched over by a notable figure in the form of the great Sandyford Clover 10 – now 18 years old – who is housed in the same building, milked once a day and keeps an experienced eye on her herdmates. Show animals get the same

rations as the milking herd and a special dry mix made up by Mr Tomlinson. The ingredients are dried alfalfa, wheat bran, flaked maize, flaked peas, and sugar beet, but the proportions are a Tomlinson family secret. “They are healthy ingredients that really aid rumen function. We introduce the diet at home and change absolutely nothing at the show,” he adds. The Sandyford herd comprises 225 milkers and 200 followers. Milkers currently average 8,400 litres at 4.1% butterfat and 3.4% protein – on a diet built around a TMR mix made from maize, wholecrop wheat and grass silage, and 4kgs of a 24% protein blend.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 14:59

PREVIEW UK DAIRY DAY They are also fed concentrates in the parlour, with an 18% high energy ration being supplied via out-of-parlour feeders. In addition they let cattle graze for as long as possible, although in Charnwood Forest this may only be from April to October. Free range “Once the grass nutrition fades and wet weather sets in, they just start making a mess. But we promote our milk to our vending machine customers as being ‘free range’, so we need to leave them outside as long as is practical.” Eldest daughter Evie keeps an eye on the social media comments left by customers of the machine. “They like the fact that it is Ayrshire milk, comment how different it tastes from other milk – and that they can’t get it anywhere else.” To help maximise income they

The current Sandyford show team tuck into their special ration.

are also considering introducing a pasteuriser and separator to see whether they can break into the market for barista milk. “As much as we like selling it as a natural product, we would like to get into that market as well,” she adds. While the herd average stands at 8,400 litres, cows in the show team yield more than 10,000 litres/head and the heifers top 9,000 litres. Calving interval has been running at around 395 days,

although they are aiming to cut at least 10 days off that by using a new heat detection system. Show cows might still be treated a little differently. “We might let them slip a couple of months so they are ready for the season, but commercial reality is important,” emphasises Mr Tomlinson. Their breeding strategy places great importance on good legs, feet and udders. “We choose bulls with high scores for feet and legs, body

capacity, stature and rear udder height and width. “A show cow should be a model for everything you want in the breed.” He does not believe in selecting show entrants to suit a particular judge, pointing out that the show is also an advertisement for the herd and there are other eyes looking at their stock. “We select from our best cows and choose those in the best form rather than picking for the judge.”

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DAIRY SHOW PREVIEW With about 300 trade stands and an exciting display of cattle classes, including the national show for the Jerseys and Guernseys, there will be plenty for everyone at this year’s Dairy Show. Here, we give you a taster of what to look out for. 70 CROSS-BREDS Three-way crosses show lower costs


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Hot competition for National award

Choice of two breeds when it comes to picking show team When it comes to selecting his cattle for the Dairy Show, Welsh breeder Hefin Wilson is spoiled for choice, as he has the pick of a Holstein or a Jersey team, or even both. Debbie James reports.


sking a breeder of Holsteins and Jerseys which he prefers is akin to suggesting he names his favourite child. But Hefin Wilson, whose name is synonymous with one of Wales’ most famous black-and-white cows, is immediately forthcoming. “It would be a Holstein every time,” he admits. But, to add balance, he continues: “I’d be happy to milk any cow, as long as she was a good one. If she is good, we don’t mind what breed she is.” Hefin milks a herd of 88 Holsteins and Jerseys at the 73-hectare (180-acre) Tregibby Farm, Cardigan, where he also carries 100 youngstock, including 15 young bulls. The herd is predominantly Holstein, because as Hefin points out, the breed is well-suited to the high input high output system at Tregibby. But the Jersey, introduced 25 years ago, has an increasingly important role to play, not least because Hefin sells his milk to Glanbia on a cheese contract. He says: “With milk contracts focusing more on quality, there has

68 **DF Sep p68 69 Hefin.indd 2

been a lot of interest in the Jersey in the last two or three years.” The Holstein herd was established by Hefin’s grandfather Evan. His father Jimmy then had responsibility for the herd before Hefin and his wife Ffion took over the business in 2000. Their eldest son, 21-year-old Ifan, now works with them on-farm. Despite the passing of the generations, the desired cow traits have not changed: a functional cow with plenty of strength. Hefin says: “The most important features are feet, legs and the mammary system. We are looking for average size, not a big cow, because

I’d be happy to milk any cow, as long as she was a good one HEFIN WILSON

these cows have to spend a good deal of time on concrete.” The first Jersey in the herd was sourced from the Freeland herd and breeding has since been aimed towards producing a Canadian-type animal. He says: “Again, we aim for a functional type. We don’t want short and dumpy Jerseys because of the system we have. We have to have a cow that suits our system.” Yields The Holsteins are producing a yield average per cow of 11,000 litres at 4.2% butterfat and 3.25% protein. The butterfat level is important because of the cheese contract, and is lifted by fodder beet in the total mixed ration. The Jerseys produce an average of 8,000 litres at 5.5% butterfat and 3.75% protein. Performance relies on high quality silage in the ration. Hefin likes silage with a high dry matter (DM) content. This year’s first cut analysed 32% DM, 11.1ME and 16% protein. Hefin says: “The cows make better use of silage when it is dry, as wet silage is more acidic.” He can achieve that level of DM because of the farm’s close proximity to the coast, he says.

Hefin Wilson

“It is surprising how windy it gets here. We ted the first cut once, maybe twice.” A good relationship between a farmer and the silage contractor, in his case Stepaside Agri, is important, Hefin adds. This year, first cut was taken on May 8 and the second six weeks later on June 19. The third will be cut when it is about nine weeks old, at the same time as a 4.4ha (11-acre) crop of wholecrop. Third cut provides winter fodder for youngstock and Hefin says ‘with the third cut quantity is more important than quality’. Wholecrop is grown in a different field every year to fit in with the reseeding programme, and Hefin admits the soil is a bit of a mixed bag, with both wet and dry lying ground.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:01


The Dairy Show 2019 rVenue: Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet BA4 6QN rDate: Wednesday, October 2 rEntrance: £15/adult in advance, £13/student in advance, £17/adult on the gate rTime: 8.30am until 5pm rCar parking: Free

Cows are buffer-fed in summer due to the challenges of controlling feeding when cows are at grass. The ration includes silage and 4kg blend, and in winter wholecrop and fodder beet are added to the mix. Cows are fed to yield in the parlour up to a maximum of 8kg. The herd, which has a calving index of 410, is milked in an 8/16 swingover parlour, which may be 50 years old but is still doing the job, says Hefin. Cows are housed on sand-bedded cubicles, a bedding material which Hefin says is unrivalled. Somatic cell counts are currently averaging 110,000 cells/ml. He says: “Our cell counts in winter are lower than summer. We have to clean the store out every three or four years, but that is something you just have to accept. “We have a machine in for a day and clean out the store and plough the sand sediment straight into the ground.” While milk production underpins the business, selling breeding stock is an important source of income. For the Wilsons, their shop window is the showring and, over the years, they have certainly made their mark, notably with Dalesend Storm Maud, a Holstein which won the dairy inter-breed at the Royal Welsh Show four times. “She was the cow who put us on the map,” says Hefin. She is no longer in the herd,

Some of Hefin Wilson’s next generation heifers coming through.

but her image is immortalised in a large canvas print in the kitchen at Tregibby farmhouse, and in the silverware spilling from nearly every surface. But there are new stars coming through and these will be competing at UK Dairy Day and the Dairy Show. Hefin says: “Our next star is Tregibby Atwood Geraldine.” This second lactation cow won her class at the Royal Welsh Show, while her daughter was placed first in the heifer-in-calf competition. “We were quite proud of that, a mother and daughter together,” says Hefin. Eight cows He will have eight cows, six Holsteins and two Jerseys, at UK Dairy Day, and among his line-up for the Dairy Show is Bluegrass Tequila Blondette. Since exhibiting at UK Dairy Day and the Dairy Show last year, the business suffered a major blow when the herd experienced its first ever TB breakdown, with 10 cows lost in one test. “Through luck, we went clear on the severe reading and the test that then followed. “We rely on breeding sales, so it was a very difficult time for us. We kept the heifers and had to keep or cull the bulls. “Fortunately, the milk price was stable that winter. Farming is there to challenge everyone, but we got through it.” There have been many highlights in the showring, but a standout

moment for Hefin was winning the Burke Trophy for the inter-breed pairs when the Royal Show dominated the show calendar. Then there are the awards that eluded him. “Every exhibitor who does not win thinks they were shortchanged, but you have to accept losing before you can expect to win. “Every judge has a different opinion. There is always another show and if we have two breeds, we have two chances.”


The Wilson team, which also includes Hefin and Ffion’s three other children, Gwenllian, Heulwen and Celyn, takes a number of animals to exhibit at shows. Hefin says he is often asked why he shows, given the huge amount of work it involves, and how does he select his animals? He says: “When you stand behind your animals at the show, knowing they are all yours, you tell me which one I could have left behind.”

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he world’s longest running study comparing cross-bred dairy cows with pure-bred Holsteins has delivered its final conclusions. The study has demonstrated that a three-breed cross of Holstein, Montbeliarde and Viking Red, produces daily profits which are, on average, 9-13% greater than those from a pure Holstein. The financial advantage was demonstrated to come from a wide range of factors including greater lifetime weights of fat plus protein (although generally lower milk volume), better fertility, fewer health treatments, higher calf and cull values, and improved rates of survival. When production of fat plus protein was converted to a daily basis, the cross-bred cattle produced almost the same [1% more for the two-breed crosses (Viking Red cross Holstein and Montbeliarde cross Holstein), and 1% less for the three-breed crosses], as their Holstein herdmates. However, the substantial difference in the cross-breeds’ economic performance stemmed from their lower costs of production. The cost savings came through significantly lower reproductive costs (for example improved conception rates to first service by up to 8.7%, and up to 17 fewer days open), up to 23% lower health costs (particularly attributable to less mastitis and metabolic disease), and lower feed costs (during both lactation

Trial shows cros s benefits over pu re The benefits of cross-breeding have long been speculated but never before assessed through a long-term structured breeding programme. Now, the University of Minnesota has quantified crossbreeding in terms of performance and profits. and the dry period). Stillbirth rates were also lower but gestation lengths were slightly longer. However, the greatest single contributor to the lower expenses for the cross-bred cattle came through their lower replacement costs. These, in turn, were explained by almost twice the level of survival to fourth lactation (41%) compared with the Holstein (22%). Profit Once all income (including milk quality penalties) and costs of production were considered, the two-breed cross made an average additional profit of up to 13% per day more than the Holstein, while the three-breed cross added 9% per day. Only limited data was available on the next cross (ProCROSS bred back to the Holstein), although there was slightly improved fertility in the first lactation which

Summary of difference between cross-breds and Holstein herdmates 305-day fat plus protein Daily fat plus protein Stillbirths First-service conception rate Days open Health treatment cost Lifetime death loss Days in the herd Daily profit

Two-breed Three-breed +2% –3% +1% –1% –2.5% –1.7% +7.3% +8.7% –12.0 d –16.5 d –23% –17% –4.0% –4.2% +158 days +147 days +13% +9%

Source: University of Minnesota

70 **DF Sep p70 71 DS Viking.indd 2

Prof Les Hansen

was not statistically different from the pure Holstein. Milk volume was also lower than the Holstein but there was no statistical difference in weight of fat plus protein. The trial, which was undertaken by researchers at the University of Minnesota, was the first to assess the benefits of cross-breeding on this scale and through such a highly structured breeding programme. It was funded by ProCROSS (a joint collaboration between VikingGenetics and Coopex Montbeliarde, which markets the three-breed cross under the ProCROSS brand), along with Creative Genetics (ProCROSS’s US importer), Select Sires, and Minnesota Select Sires Co-op. Running over the course of 10 years, it involved participation by some 2,300 ProCROSS and 2,000 Holstein cattle across seven herds. These were high-performance, commercial herds in which animals had the opportunity to express

their genetic potential. For each of the three breeds, semen was used from high-ranking proven bulls, corrective breeding was carried out for conformation, and matings were protected against inbreeding. Rolling annual average production (December 2017 official records) across the herds was 13,587kg milk, 512kg fat and 426kg protein, and each herd surpassed standard benchmarks for the fertility expected of Holsteins. Professor Les Hansen, who led the research, says: “The improved performance of the cross-bred cattle resulted from a combination of hybrid vigour (or heterosis) – which gives the outcrossed animal better performance than the average of its parents – and the choice of breeds selected for the ProCROSS programme. “The genetic effects contributed by each breed are complementary, each conferring attributes which balance another,” he adds. “For example, the Holstein brings production and udder traits; the Montbeliarde brings fertility, body condition and strength; and the Viking Red – itself an amalgam of the Swedish Red, Finnish Ayrshire, and Danish Red breeding programmes – brings calving traits, udder health and fertility.” On whether other breeds would bring comparable benefits, he says there are not many candidate breeds with suitably effective genetic improvement programmes. However, he adds: “Breeds chosen should be those

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:00


s s-breeding u re Holstein that are optimum for their environmental conditions, offer strengths that complement other breed weaknesses, and should not contribute undue variation.” Motivating the research was said to be concern for the breeding direction in the Holstein and its dominance of international dairying. Describing the breed as ‘almost a monoculture for milk production globally’, he says: “The Holstein industry has been tremendously successful in selection for milk production over the past 40 years, but it has also selected strongly for larger body size and more angularity. “Since all three of these traits

have genetic antagonism with fertility, health and survival, the breed has experienced a rapid decline in these functional traits.” Inbreeding Furthermore, he says the level of inbreeding at over 8% in US Holstein females born in early 2019 is ‘unsustainable’, and continues to increase at an annual rate approaching 0.4%. “This causes inbreeding depression – the opposite effect to hybrid vigour – which silently steals profit from dairy producers, particularly in traits which are not readily noticeable such as

One big cross-bred advantage is much lower replacement costs.

embryo loss, disease resistance and survival,” he says. Conversely, he says hybrid vigour will be maintained at 86% (of that achieved in the first cross) in a three-breed programme, in perpetuity. He also says further benefits were expected to have become apparent if individual cow feed intakes had been monitored during the 10-year trial and factored into the calculations. He bases this assertion on complementary re-

search undertaken at the university which has demonstrated that ProCROSS cows produce 8% more milk solids than the Holstein per kilogram of dry matter intake. Concluding that all other livestock species exploit hybrid vigour in their commercial breeding programmes, he says: “Dairy cows are the lone exception but that is going to change.” rThe Viking team will be on their stand at the Dairy Show to discuss cross-breeding benefits.

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SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p70 71 DS Viking.indd 3

71 16/08/2019 15:00

British agriculture was catapulted into the limelight as a record number of farmers thre

Thank you for your sup p reaches millions more th


oining the agricultural industry’s biggest online event were sports personalities, celebrity chefs and famous personalities, who all championed the hard work of the nation’s food and drink producers. From 5am on Thursday, August 8, to 5am on Friday, August 9, #Farm24 exploded on Twitter, trending in the top spots for much of the day. After just one hour, it was trending at number one, as thousands pledged their support for British farming up and down the country. Farmers shared heart-warming stories, pictures and videos showcasing their daily lives, work and challenges to millions, and top social media influencers, including Sara Cox, James Martin, The National Trust, Raymond Blanc, Steph McGovern, Deborah Meaden and Simon Rimmer, encouraged the public to thank British farmers for the hard work they do every day of the year.

It is so important that, as an industry, we promote the work we are so proud of Ben Briggs

Our farmers The number of grassroots farmers taking part exceeded all expectations and is testament to the resilience and passion of our country’s food producers and countryside custodians. Farmers Guardian editor Ben Briggs said: “24 Hours in Farming once again showcased the high standards, innovation and diversity at the heart of British agriculture and,


importantly, the people who produce the food that feeds the nation. “It is so important that, as an industry, we promote the work we are so proud of and

that is why 24 Hours in Farming plays such a key role in shouting about British farming to a wide and varied audience. “With Morrisons once again supporting the event, it was

great to see more farmers than ever before sharing the #Farm24 hashtag and making it the number one social media event of the year for British agriculture.”


**DF Sep p72 73 Farm24 (Signed off).indd 2

16/08/2019 09:07

Search for #Farm24 on social media

mers threw their support behind #Farm24.

p port: #Farm24 e than ever before This year’s #Farm24 in figures 160m

The event achieved 160 million impressions


Audience reach has grown to 37 million from 19.6m last year

Watch the video CHECK out our #Farm24 highlights video, capturing your amazing stories and pictures throughout the 24-hour duration. The Farmers Guardian camera crew also visited Morrisons on the day as 17 flagship stores across the country celebrated the event with farmer visits and talks, taste tests and activities. ● Visit 24HoursinFarming


Trended at number one on Twitter


Number of unique contributers; 50 per cent up on last year

Winner of Defra’s Twitter competition for #Farm24 from Charlie Sutcliffe, Tetfo rd Longhorns

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p72 73 Farm24 (Signed off).indd 3

73 15/08/2019 11:31

DAIRY SHOW PREVIEW With the recent confirmation of the withdrawal of Mesurol, visitors to this year’s Dairy Show will be able to learn the latest thinking on succesful maize establishment without this seed treatment.

Sowing maize deeper may be solution to bird problem


ccording to the latest rulings, this will be the last year maize growers will be able to specify Mesurol (methiocarb) seed treatment, and so growers need to be looking for any options to reduce seed losses and maximise germination at this year’s Dairy Show. Drilling maize later and deeper could help growers minimise the impact of the disappearance of the popular bird protection treatment, says Grainseed’s technical director Neil Groom. “Simply switching to growing under plastic is not going to address the issue as birds are very determined to get at seed and many growers have reported bird damage under plastic. “We think by drilling slightly later and placing seed deeper, however, maize producers can avoid the worst of the problems resulting from scavenging birds, and limit the impact of these on yields,” he says. “In other European countries that do not use Mesurol, such an approach has been shown to work well and trials commissioned by the MGA and Grainseed in the UK are showing similar results.” The trials, carried out at Harper Adams University using the group 7 variety Ballade in 2018, showed that increasing drilling depth to 10cm should be considered, he says. “Ballade was chosen because it’s a good all round maize for silage-making. Untreated seed drilled at 10cm deep in April showed very little plant loss, and although this resulted in slightly lower dry matters than

74 **DF Sep p74 75 DS Maize Groom.indd 2

Where there is a high bird population, it is looking like sowing at 10cm depth may be the best option for many maize growers NEIL GROOM when seeds were drilled slightly shallower, the starch contents and overall feeding quality were the same Dry matter “On average, plots drilled on April 15 had 8.5% higher dry matter than the plots drilled four weeks later in May, but those plots drilled at 10cm in May produced 3t/ha more dry matter and only 2% lower starch compared to the April drilled ones.” The trials have been repeated in 2019 at 2, 7 and 10cm depths in what was generally considered by most growers to be a more ‘normal’ year, Neil Groom adds. “Obviously we need to wait until harvest to understand the full effects of the different combinations of drilling date and depth, but some results are clear already. “Untreated seed drilled at the 2cm depth resulted in all the plants being taken by birds, so

obviously that is too shallow. “Fairly soon after drilling the standard depth seed, it resulted in a lot of plants being lost on the edge of the trial nearest a large hedge where there is obviously a high proportion of birds, so it is looking like 10cm might be the best option for many growers. “At the moment we would say if you are likely to have bird problems, the best way to deal with this without Mesurol is to create a good deep seedbed, work on soil fertility and drill at 10cm. In addition, these fields should be left until last so soil temperatures can build up to encourage a faster germination. A couple of weeks delay could make all the difference, he says. “A soil temperature of 1012degC for four consecutive days at breakfast time should be the target.” Apart from that, the basic

management pointers for establishing a strong maize crop should be employed to ensure the best possible start for plants, he advises. “Good seedbed preparation will always pay dividends. If you grow maize in the same location each year, weeds will build up, so maize should ideally be rotated around the farm.” “Soil pH of between 6.5 and 7.0 is optimum, and removing compaction is essential. A healthy maize plant should have as much depth in roots as growth above the ground, so any soil compaction must be addressed.” Weed control Pre-emergence weed control to remove competition is also essential in the first six weeks as is nutrition, he says. “Placement fertilisers are a good idea with Nitrogen and Phosphate important for the

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:24


Drilling maize later and deeper could help growers minimise the impact of the withdrawal of Mesurol.

seedling’s early growth. Maxi Maize has protected phosphate so that’s a good choice.” Finally, drilling crops under plastic is another important

consideration, he says. “Plastic can often benefit growers who might not consider their location needs it. It warms the soil considerably and the

warmer the soil the faster the seedlings grow. “For example, trials with the variety Marco grown under plastic have resulted in harvests

up to one month earlier.” rMore information on plant establishment can be obtained from the Grainseed and MGA stands at the event.

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Three key factors ensure p Horizon seeds is focusing on a three-point plan for maximising forage production, says the company’s grassland specialist Jim Juby.


ome-grown forage remains the most cost-effective feed you can produce, and having to supplement low output with bought-in feeds last winter was a very costly lesson for many. Mr Juby says: “Many swards took a hammering in 2018. We have been lucky we’ve had very good grass growing conditions this year, which have compensated for this somewhat, but underlying this are some pretty worn-out swards needing attention. “Carried out properly, reseeding has the potential to deliver a 20:1 return on investment, but at a cost

of £400-£500/hectare, growers need to make sure they are making the right decisions to stack the cards in their favour.” Based on a 90% utilisation factor, Horizon’s best selling short-term (two-year) ley Clampfiller produces a milk value of about £6,894/ha, Mr Juby explains. Milk value “In comparison, the 80,000 MJ/ha permanent pasture would produce a milk value of about £4,226/ha each year, so the cost of the reseed is easily covered in year one. “With a good well-managed longer term ley, such as Persistant Cut, over the recommended six

Jim Juby

years you should have produced much more than 600,000 MJ/ha of energy, which is equivalent to almost £32,000/ha of milk compared to a typical £25,000/ha

for a tired permanent pasture.” The second point is to make seed decisions on end use and focus on mixes as they are more robust than single species varieties, he says.


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e productivity of grassland “Mixes generally have a greater resilience to disease threats, as well as better ability to cope with diverse growing conditions, and a good starting point is to make sure all varieties in a mix are on the current AHDB/British Grassland Society/BSPB Recommended Grass and Clover Lists. “A lot of advances have been made in recent years, especially in critical areas such as performance consistency and nitrogen use efficiency, so understanding what is in your mix is essential. “Specialist cutting and grazing mixes will always outperform more generic options, but modern dual-purpose leys are good. A good quality silage ley should be capable of producing 18-20 tonnes of dry matter/ha and a grazing ley should not be too far behind this. “Horizon’s Clampfiller, for

example, produces more than 130,500 MJ/ha from 20.61t DM/ ha, according to data from the 2019 NIAB RL, and our longer-term Persistant Cut is up at 129,622 MJ/ha, which at 28ppl would produce about £7,000 of milk/ha.” Mr Juby’s final point is to look at how you can boost crude protein levels in your forage.

“A Triumph two-year Red Clover Ley, for example, contains 25% of Merviot Red Clover and shows very good resistance to sclerotinia, while the Aber Claret Red Clover in our four-year Red Clover

Ley has shown outstanding persistence in trials giving high production for over five years.” rMore information can be obtained from the Horizon Seeds stand at the event.

Grass swards He says: “High yielding grass swards need a lot of nitrogen to maintain protein levels as volumes increase, so you need to think about this when selecting between reseed options. Protein is at least as important as energy.” There are now some very aggressive growing Red Clover varieties available, as well as high performance White Clovers with high N fixing potential, he says.

Clampfiller growth potential.

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77 16/08/2019 09:42


Jerseys show their worth to With the Jersey breed having its national event at the Dairy Show, there is always a lot of keen competition. Debbie James caught up with one family who are firm advocates of the breed.


dairy farmer whose milk price is based wholly on the delivery of solids, says the Jersey is the ideal match for that contract. Mike Colwell, his wife Claire, and mother Jenny, milk the 300-cow Quintrell herd on a spring block-calving grazing system in Cornwall. The herd was established in 1975 by Jenny and her late husband, John, and it was cow price that initially dictated their choice of breed. Mike says: “They chose

Jerseys because they couldn’t afford Friesians! “The Friesians were £110 each and the Jerseys £60, so they bought 13 Jerseys.’’ The Colwells were tenants of a county council-owned holding and the herd prefix originates from the location of that farm at Quintrell Downs near Newquay. Mike was interested in farming and, after working in New Zealand and Australia in the 1990s followed by an agriculture degree at Reading University, joined his parents in the business. His return to the farm co-

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incided with the family securing the tenancy of a bigger farm, but sadly shortly afterwards John died and Mike’s name was added to the tenancy. Scaled The business was scaled up in 2005 when Mike was awarded the tenancy of a 200-acre modern council-owned farm nearby. As the size of the enterprise has grown – including the purchase of 75 acres in 2008 – so too has the number of cows milked. They have stuck with the Jersey for multiple reasons, and that confidence in the breed has been vindicated by the emphasis now placed by buyers on butterfat and protein levels. “We sell to Arla and our entire price is based on constituents. From the beginning of this year we have been paid the same for butterfat as we are for protein,’’ says Mike, who will be exhibiting at the Jersey UK National Show at the Dairy Show this October. The herd is producing an average annual milk yield per

cow of 5,750 litres at 5.4% butterfat and 3.85% protein, with 66% of that produced from forage, and these constituents have resulted in an average milk price of 36.56ppl over the last 12 months. Apart from producing highly valued milk, the Colwells say there are many reasons why they will always milk Jerseys. “Apart from their characters we have very few issues with lameness because of their hard black feet, they are easy calvers

They are easy calvers and they are well suited to grazing on the shoulders of the season MIKE COLWELL


Sept 2019 DF Quarter Page Launching Dairy Day.indd 1

**DF Sep p78 79 DS Colwell.indd 2

Mike, Claire, Ellen and Henry Colwell will be exhibiting five animals at this year’s Dairy Show.

12/08/2019 16:42

16/08/2019 09:04


h to maximise milk contract and they are well suited to grazing on the shoulders of the season.’’ Grass This final point is an important one for their system at Glyn Crest Farm, near Scorrier, Redruth, because the herd is at grass from the start of calving in early March to October and by day only until December. Cows are fed 1.4 tonnes concentrates in the 20/40 Westfalia parlour, a system the Colwells initially resisted. “We tried to get away with not installing feeders in the parlour but we put them in three years after we took on the farm to encourage the cows into the parlour,” says Mike. As a result, annual milk yield increased by 1,000 litres a cow.

Quintrell Reagan Scarlet Ex95 won senior cow at the 2017 Dairy Show.

Competing on the show circuit is an interest started by Mike’s parents and one that the family continues to enjoy, including Mike and Claire’s young children, Ellen and Henry. “I enjoy the social side, espe-

cially when we win!’’ says Mike. “It is also good for brand building, to get our name out there, as it adds value when we sell stock.’’ ‘Type’ is their number one criteria for breeding followed by butterfat and protein.

“We don’t take too much notice of Profitable Lifetime Index,’’ says Mike. “We always aim for a ‘plus’ on chest width as we want cows with plenty of room for the heart and lungs and for eating lots of feed. We don’t want to breed frailty; we want cows that will last.’’ Cows stay in the herd for an average of five lactations. A plus on mammary scores and body depth is important too, says Mike. “Genomics is coming but we are not yet convinced of the reliability.’’ After securing an honourable mention in the Jersey championship among a class of 40 at the Royal Cornwall Show and with wins at local shows, the Colwells are looking forward to competing at the Dairy Show.

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MILK prices Market returns under pressure JLower market returns, particularly for commodity bulk cream and butter, are starting to open up further price cracks and it is fresh liquid milk processors, rather than cheesemakers, who are feeling the pressure. After at least a quarter of paying a premium above most of its competitor farmgate milk prices in the non-aligned liquid milk sector, Freshways has succumbed to the pressure by reducing its standard milk price to 25ppl from Sept’19. The price move will no doubt be unwelcome, but not surprising, news to those suppliers who are market aware, although many will be a little nervous after the company decided to ditch its basket tracker of the last 16 years from this August and move to full discretionary pricing.

Key issues In its letter to suppliers, the company refers to several key issues in its reasoning for having to reduce the milk price. While GB milk supplies are currently running 3.8% above the same period last year, the most critical one and of greatest concern is the falling price for bulk fresh cream. While AHDB at the time had the price of bulk cream for July pegged at £1,410/tonne, prices subsequently continued to slide to about £1,300/t, with such levels not seen since Jul’16, at which time the milk price was sub-20ppl.

80 **DF Sep p80 81 82 Milk.indd 2

The company says 2018 cream prices peaked in the May at £2,350/t against a milk price at that time of 26.28ppl. Therefore, cream income has fallen more than 6ppl against a decrease in the producer price of 2.74ppl from a milk price high of 29.8ppl paid last Oct/Nov. Spring flush Spot milk prices this summer have increased following the spring flush (see our spot milk prices ‘net to the producer’ for April and May in the B price indicator in this month’s milk price league table, p82), which is welcome news for any B litres produced. The company claims this will help bring to an end the immediate ‘special offers’ based on lower spot prices, which created a serious negative impact on the business. Taking the price down to 25ppl represents a cut in the company’s base price of 2.061ppl to 24.4ppl, and takes our liquid standard litre* down from 27.06ppl, which has been held since April, to 25ppl from September. Against the backdrop of our own recorded average bulk cream price of £2.19/kg ex works for Sept’18, the company’s new price of 25ppl for our standard compares with 29.59ppl paid for the same month last year and is virtually on a par with the fiveyear Sept average of 24.98ppl.

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:33

Milk price analyst Stephen Bradley on the latest milk industry developments.

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Glanbia Cheese reduces 1ppl JIf market pressures in the butterfat market persist, manufacturers of higher moisture, lower fat content cheeses, such as Mozzarella, that naturally track dairy commodity markets in a closer timeframe than more mature cheese, will also start to come under a fresh wave of pressure. The UK’s largest manufacturer of Mozzarella, Glanbia Cheese, has confirmed it has had to reduce its milk price by 1ppl from Sept’19, this being only the company’s second milk price reduction in 2019. The company says milk supply has continued to remain strong through spring and summer, but the supply has not been matched by a corresponding increase in demand for dairy products. Consequently, over the last number of months, there has been a significant

decline in prices able to be obtained for by-products, namely cream and whey. While maintaining its commitment of giving producers one month’s notice of any price movement, the company claims it has absorbed these reductions for as long as possible, but has no alternative now but to decrease its milk price by 1ppl from Sept’19. This second penny decrease for 2019 takes our manufacturing standard litre* down to 27ppl. The price compares with 30ppl paid for both the same month last year and again for Sept’17. While representing a premium of 1.12ppl over the five-year September average price of 25.88ppl, this average price was pulled down significantly by the lower prices paid in 2015 and 2016. Our liquid standard reduces by 0.97ppl to 26.1ppl.



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First Milk price JFirst Milk is expected to hold milk prices unchanged for Sept’19. The company’s current 28.37ppl for our manufacturing standard litre

compares with 29.47ppl (-1.1ppl) paid for the same month last year, and a premium of 3.43ppl over the five-year Sept average.

*Our Liquid standard litre is 4% butterfat & 3.3% protein, and our Manufacturing 4.2% b/f & 3.4% protein. In both cases Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml, with Thermodurics of 500/ml, 1m litres/year on EODC (max vehicle accessibility), but before B pricing, balancing, seasonality, monthly profile payments, capital deductions or annual/part annual growth incentive schemes or supplements not directly linked to dairy market price movement.

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SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p80 81 82 Milk.indd 3

81 15/08/2019 16:39

MILK PRICES Latest milk prices from

Apr’19 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

May’19 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

12mth Ave Jun’18 May’19

Diff May’19 v Apr’19

Latest Confirmed Milk Price

LIQUID PRICES (4% b/f & 3.3% prot) Müller Milk Group—Booths Müller Milk Group—M&S ∞ Müller Milk Group—Waitrose ∞ UK Arla Farmers—Tesco Müller Milk Group—Tesco UK Arla Farmers—Morrisons (Grazing) Arla Foods—Tesco UK Arla Farmers—Morrisons Müller Milk Group—Sainsbury’s UK Arla Farmers Arla Foods—Sainsbury’s Müller Milk Group—The Co-op Dairy Group Dale Farm GB (Kendal) Crediton Dairy Blackmore Vale Farm Cream Freshways Dale Farm NI Paynes Farms Dairies Meadow Foods Lakes Meadow Foods Müller Milk Group—Müller Direct Yew Tree Dairy Grahams Dairies First Milk—Liquid Pensworth Dairy Simple Average Simple Average (excl. retail contracts)

(i) 32.85 33.36 31.85 30.48 31.61 30.27 31.36 30.04 30.65 29.06 30.53 30.01 27.14 28.50 28.70 27.06 26.84 26.70 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.75 27.75 26.35 28.99 27.52

(ii) 32.85 33.36 31.85 30.48 31.27 30.27 31.02 30.04 30.65 29.06 30.53 29.56 27.14 28.50 28.20 27.06 26.34 26.70 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.00 27.75 26.35 28.88 27.39

(iii) 32.01 31.90 31.43 31.02 30.83 30.81 30.58 30.58 29.64 29.60 29.52 29.36 29.04 28.81 28.75 28.25 28.08 28.04 28.04 28.04 28.00 28.00 27.85 27.79 27.73 29.35 28.32

(i) v (ii) N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.34 N/C -0.34 N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.45 N/C N/C -0.50 N/C -0.50 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.75 N/C N/C -0.12 -0.16

(iv) 33.40 33.36 31.85 30.47 31.20 30.47 30.95 30.26 30.15 29.05 30.15 29.37 27.14 28.50 28.20 25.00 26.34 26.70 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.75 26.00 27.45 25.35 28.73 26.91

MANUFACTURING PRICES (4.2% b/f & 3.4% prot) UK Arla Farmers First Milk—Haverfordwest Tesco Cheese Group D.C—Davidstow ∞ Barber A.J & R.G Wyke Farms The Fresh Milk Company—Level Profile ‡ South Caernarfon Wensleydale Dairy Products Belton Farm The Fresh Milk Company (Lactalis) Glanbia—Llangefni (Constituent) First Milk—Manufacturing Arla Foods—Direct Manufacturing Simple Average Simple Average (excl. retail contracts)

30.23 30.18 29.90 29.13 28.99 28.84 28.78 28.70 28.75 28.27 28.00 28.68 28.14 28.97 28.87

30.23 30.18 29.90 29.13 28.99 28.84 28.03 28.35 28.00 28.27 28.00 28.68 28.14 28.83 28.71

30.79 30.23 29.89 29.73 29.65 29.62 29.41 29.32 29.10 29.04 28.83 28.73 28.71 29.47 29.40

N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.75 -0.35 -0.75 N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.14 -0.15

30.22 29.87 29.90 28.56 28.35 28.84 28.03 28.35 28.00 28.27 28.00 28.37 27.52 28.64 28.53

‘B’ Price Indicators FCStone/ UKMFE (gross) *FCStone/ UKMFE (net) **Delivered spot milk (net to the producer)

28.57 25.14 14.70

29.89 26.40 14.90

30.05 26.54

1.32 1.26 0.20

Notes to table

Prices for both Liquid & Manufacturing tables paid for producer sending 1mltrs/yr on EODC (max vehicle size accessibility) with Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml with Thermodurics of 500/ml. Prices exclude capital retentions or AHDB levies, seasonality, balancing and A&B price schemes. Excludes annual/part annual growth incentive schemes or supplements not directly linked to dairy market price movement. Liquid price for milk contains 4% b/f and 3.3% protein. Manufacturing price for milk containing 4.2%/b/f and 3.4% prot. All prices (excluding First Milk Haverfordwest Tesco at 1.50ppl) are before monthly retail supplements. (i) Apr’19 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (ii) May’19 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (iii) Table ranked on simple rolling 12mth average of monthly prices from Jun’18 to May’19 before seasonality or B pricing. (i) v (ii) The difference May’19 prices compared with Apr’19. UK Arla Farmers price includes forecast 13th payment +0.846ppkg (+0.863ppl) for Apr’19 & May ‘19 based on our liquid standard litre. UK Arla Farmers price includes forecast 13th payment +0.88ppkg (+0.898ppl) for Apr’19 & May’19 based on our manufacturing standard litre. First Milk Haverfordwest Tesco Cheese Group includes 2ppl retailer premium averaging as 1.5ppl after taking the group seasonal milk profile into account. Fresh Milk Company price before Morrisons monthly cheese supplement paid monthly in arrears from Jan’19 (+0.014ppl paid in Jun’19 statement for May’19). ∞ Price includes 12mth rolling profile payment fixed at 1.15ppl. ‡ Price includes 12mth average rolling profile fixed at 0.57ppl. *UK Milk Futures Equivalent (UKMFE) net to producer includes 5% processor margin and allowing 2ppl ex-farm haulage + milk testing. **Average delivered spot milk price net to producer allows an average 2.5ppl covering haulage from farm to customer + milk testing/admin and margin. (iv) Latest confirmed milk price (before seasonality or B pricing) at the time of going to press. N/C in this context means no change made aware since May’19. UK Arla Farmers 0.01ppl decrease from Jul’19 includes forecast 13th payment +0.849ppkg (+0.866ppl) based on liquid std litre. UK Arla Farmers 0.01ppl decrease from Jul’19 includes forecast 13th payment +0.883ppkg (+0.901ppl) based on manufacturing std litre. Fresh Milk Company minimum guaranteed price 27.13ppl for our liquid standard litre to the end Sept’19. Crediton Dairy price from Apr’19 includes new FarmMetrics Scheme Bonus of 0.5ppl (paid monthly). MMG Direct price includes 0.5ppl Premium paid annually in arrears to Direct/Organic farms meeting specific Müller Direct criteria. All prices (excluding First Milk Haverfordwest Tesco at 1.50ppl) are before monthly retail supplements. First Milk Prices include 0.25ppl Member Premium (from Apr’19) paid as a 13th payment. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:

82 **DF Sep p80 81 82 Milk.indd 4

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 13:06

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09/07/2019 16/08/2019 19:11 13:06


Shock low price of 25ppl announced by Freshways


o far in September there have been no price increases, and three reported price reductions, although not all companies have formally announced. The market is just getting to grips with the largest decrease so far which is by Freshways, with a

GDT in reverse JThe GDT Index for the August 6 auction was down 2.6%, which means it lost all of the 2.7% gains of the last auction in July. The average monthly price is now $3,333, equating to £2,743 at current exchange rates. Taking all commodities into account, the approximate UK milk price equivalent is about 26.5p after transport. If the current auction is compared with those of two months and four months ago approximately, and by factoring in changes in exchange rates between the dollar and sterling, we can see that WMP has increased by 4.5% compared to two months ago, and is almost identical to four months ago. SMP has increased by 8% over both periods, but butter is down by 5% and nearly 20% across the two periods. Average prices have changed nearly 5% over the last four auctions, but only by 1.45% over the last eight. This is not great for upward milk price movements.

84 **DF Sept p84 85 Milk Analysis.indd 2

move of 2.06p to 25p, to the lowest price on the UK market. Official price The latest official Defra milk price for June is 28.09ppl. The latest headline AMPE figure for July is 27.86p, which is down 0.55p on June, with MCVE at 30.03p, down 0.34p.

The non-aligned price (excluding the retailer contracts) is estimated to be 27.6ppl. UK milk volumes over the last two weeks have averaged 40.26 million litres per day, over 2% more than last year and to the long-term average. GB volumes are higher still on last year, averaging 33.74 litres per

day, some 2.7% more than last year. There have now been more than 200 days of 2019, with milk production in the UK hitting record levels on around 150 of those days. No processor is short of milk, and the spot price, which generally reflects the amount of milk on the market, continues to languish in the mid 25p range.

terms over the last two weeks, but in sterling terms the milk price equivalent has increased by 0.6p over the next six months. However, the futures are consistently ahead of the real market price and are somewhat misleading as an indicator, therefore, possibly being 2ppl higher than real market prices.

For the next six months, the futures prices range from a low of 28.20p to a high of 29.96p, when 2ppl has been allocated for transport, but before a processor margin and futures trading costs have been accounted for. Knock off 2ppl and the price drops to 26p to 27p, and thus more akin to UK prices.

Sterling vs. euro JA fall in the value of sterling is

technically good for milk prices. Currently the €:£ exchange rate is €1.086, compared to €1.115 on July 23 when Boris Johnson was elected to office and upped the UK’s no- deal rhetoric. That is effectively a devaluation of almost 3%. The devaluation of sterling from then until now is estimated to have put on slightly less than 0.86p on the UK AMPE price, if butter and SMP valuations stayed the same at €3,300 (£3,041) and €2,000 (£1,843) per tonne respectively. Futures prices have fallen in euro

Uncertainty affects exports JWhile production is at record

levels, some exporting companies are facing hurdles with order books already drying up due to Brexit nodeal uncertainty and export bans. For example, EU customers are unwilling to purchase UK product because UK milk will be deemed to be from a third country – effectively having the same status as milk from

Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Afghanistan. This means the Republic of Ireland would not take Northern Irish milk. According to the latest Defra statistics for H1, cumulative liquid milk consumption was 3,361 million litres, some 85m litres and 2.6% more than last year. Cumulative cheese manufacture is running at 246,000 tonnes, some 2,000t and

1% higher to the highest level ever. Butter manufacture is at record levels at 91,000t, some 12,000t and 15.1% higher. Powder manufacture is 63,000t, and 3,000t or 5.7% higher. For a stable dairy market to exist post October 31, with no material reduction in milk prices, then a political solution needs to be found.

SEPTEMBER 2019 15/08/2019 16:22

ANALYSIS MILK PRICES Milk prices in figures % Change in GDT auction prices from auctions four and eight weeks ago, factoring in $:£ currency changes


10.5 9 6


3 0







PICTURES: Getty Images

-6 -9 -12 -15 -18

EU official butter listing JThe average European but-

ter price has dropped by €240 (£221)/tonne over the last four weeks of trading to €3,477 (£3,204)/t. The market maker, Dutch, is down €200 (£184)/t to €3,400 (£3,133). The average SMP price, including feed grade, is now €2,074 (£1,910).

The combination results in an AMPE price of about 27.72ppl after an allocation for transport, but before a processing margin. However, the real market price is still lower than the prices listed above, putting the actual AMPE equivalent price nearer to 26ppl.


Four weeks ago

Eight weeks ago

EU, NZ & US Futures converted into UK AMPE (including 2p transport) 32 31 30

Approx UK milk price based on EU butter and SMP returns (AMPE), less 2ppl transport, over the last four weeks AMPE Difference UK UK price difference Jul 27.53 Z -0.27 28.1 Y 0.56 Jul 27.51 Z -0.02 Y 0.58 Jul 27.34 Z -0.17 Y 0.75 Aug 27.06 Z -0.28 Y 1.03 Current


29 28 27 26



NZ AMPE Futures



EU AMPE Futures



US AMPE Futures

Z -1.44

Browse, list and apply for hundreds of the latest roles at SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sept p84 85 Milk Analysis.indd 3

85 15/08/2019 16:22

NEW Products This month, we feature a transition supplement from UFAC, Samson Agro’s new injector, plus take a look at the winner of ArmaTrac’s ‘Win a Tractor’ competition.

Management software JWorld Wide Sires has announced itself as the exclusive supplier of BoviSync in the UK, which is a new cloud-based dairy management software. The programme allows real-time access to all records on any device via an app, allowing dairy farmers to automate management decisions and enforce adherence to farm protocols, the company says. rMore information from Dr John Cook at, or speak to a local genetic consultant.

New transition supplement


new fatty supplement, Utopia, is now available from UFAC. The product, it says, combines glycerine, fatty acids, amino acids and minerals, which are designed to help improve health, productivity and fertility in transition and high yielding cows. Utopia also contains rumen-inert glycerine, high levels of vitamin E and organic selenium, alongside long chain Omega 3’s, which the company says helps strengthen overall immune response. rMore information from Mike Chown of UFAC-UK on 07827 249 157.

UFAC says the product strengthens overall immune response.

Rapeseed protein offers alternative to soya

Got a new product? JNew products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send details and pictures to Hannah Park at, or call 01772 799 450.

86 **DF Sep p86 87 New products.indd 2

JLivestock feed firm Norvite has recently introduced NEOlac, a protein-rich feedstuff which it says could cut the livestock sector’s reliance on imported soyabean meal. NEOlac, which is derived from cold-pressed oilseed rape grown locally to Norvite’s plant in north east Scotland, has been developed specifically for dairy cow rations. Trials on an Aberdeenshire dairy unit, Norvite says, have shown it can replace soyabean meal with no adverse effect on

cow health, milk yield or quality. Butterfat and protein showed small increases when NEOlac was fed, says Norvite, and cow health was reported to

be maintained throughout the research. rMore information from David McClelland on 01464 831 261, or

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:35

NEW PRODUCTS Extension for BvL mixer wagons JBvL has introduced a new Vario Volume extension system as an option for almost all its range of trailed mixer wagons. The Vario Volume attachment is hydraulically raised to increase the container volume by about 30cm, effectively, it says, increasing volume in a twin-auger mixer by up to 3.5cu.metres.

When feed is mixed and chopped, the Vario Volume extension can then be lowered again to be able to drive into low or restricted height buildings if necessary. rMore information from Paul McUrich (northern England and Scotland) on 07810 040 100, or John Molton (central and southern England) on 07947 719 985.

Samson Agro’s new injector JSamson Agro A/S in Viborg will be adding the Samson Strip-Till, a new type of injector, to its implement range for the coming season, which is designed for the easy and efficient placing of slurry in row crops. The injector, it says, will

make it possible to reduce the amount of mineral starter fertiliser, but is also an efficient tool which complies with new phosphorus rules and maintains a high yield. rMore information from Niels Haubjerg at nha@

Aberdeenshire farmer wins tractor for 12 months JThe 2019 ArmaTrac ‘Win a Tractor’ competition has been won by Neil Webster of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, who recently received the keys to the first ArmaTrac 1254 CRD4 Lux in the UK at the Royal Highland Show. Mr Webster will have 12 months’ use of the tractor which was launched at Lamma earlier this year. On winning his prize, he says: “I was pleasantly surprised when Dougie Bain [director of AS Tractors Scotland] rang me to say I had won. Initially the prize was the manufacturer’s 1104 model, however, we knew the larger 1254 was coming out soon and they agreed we could wait until that was available.” Mr Webster farms 566 hectares across three units in partnership with his family. Cropping includes winter

Left to right: AS Tractors’ chairman Ray McNally, winner Neil Webster and AS Tractors Scotland’s Dougie Bain.

wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape and grassland, where 200 store cattle are fattened. The 125hp tractor will be used across all aspects of the farm, says Mr Webster, including ploughing, secondary cultivations, grain carting, rolling and general maintenance duties. The farm currently runs a fleet of Massey Ferguson tractors.

Mr Webster says: “I am looking forward to seeing how it competes against our similar-sized Massey tractors. It is well-specced and from first impressions looks comfortable and well made.” As standard the tractor comes with air brakes, hydraulic top link and reversing camera, but Mr Webster asked for a front

linkage and pto to be added, increasing its versatility. As with all ArmaTrac models, an assemblage of well-known manufacturers are used for the main components, including Deutz for the engine and ZF for the transmission and rear axle. Dealership AS Tractors Scotland will be responsible for its upkeep.

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p86 87 New products.indd 3

87 13/08/2019 11:36

WORKSHOP TIPS Alex Heath reports on how to repair and fabricate with stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron.

Tips for welding odd metals


he farm workshop often sees all manner of mishaps being brought in to be fixed. Now, thanks to the versatility of modern welders, it is possible to tackle more complex tasks and metal types. To gain expert insight into the world of welding, we teamed up

with Telford Group, Shropshire, which has run a welding certification school for the past 10 years and been an independent welder dealer for 40 years. Steve Woodhouse, managing director, and Richard Lamb, training and testing engineer, gave us some tips on welding less common metals â&#x20AC;&#x201C; stainless steel, cast iron and aluminium.

Ensure the metal is clean before welding.

Preparing steel and aluminium rThe single most important point when cleaning stainless steel and aluminium ready for welding is to use a nonferrous wire brush. An abrasive pad such as Scotch Brite, or medium grit sand paper, can also be used if easier to hand rIf a normal mild steel wire brush was to be used, small bits of the brush would come off and become embedded

in the work piece, leading to rusting on the metals that are supposed to be rust-free rHaving dirty and oxidised materials will lead to inclusions and porosity in the weld, meaning weak and potentially dangerous repairs will be made rGrinding the edges so they fit flush is also important, as it will make the welding easier and potentially stronger

Welding aluminium rOptions for welding aluminium are extensive, however metal inert gas (MIG) or tungsten inert gas (TIG) are the best. In both cases, the gas used should be pure argon, and wire or rods changed to match the grade of aluminium.

TIG welding is slower than MIG, but offers the benefits of tidier welds, less heat distortion and easier control of the molten pool rTIG welding aluminium requires a zirconium-tungsten tip, with the welder set up to weld with alternating current. The frequent

changes in polarity cause cyclical heating of the metal which fuses and cleans the work piece rThere are several different grades of aluminium. However, on-farm, most aluminium will likely be a magnesium or silicon alloy. A quick test

MIG or TIG are the best options for welding aluminium.

88 **DF Sep p88 89 Workshop Tips.indd 2

run should show what grade it is. Excess hissing and splatter will occur if the wrong wire is being used. On new aluminium the grade should be shown on the test certificate rBecause of its soft nature, aluminium wire will not feed through the pipe to the torch easily, without kinking. To combat this, a liner can be put into the feed pipe. However, the best option is to use a spool gun which has the wire feeding from a roll on to the gun itself rThe action of welding aluminium is much more important than mild steel. You have to push the molten pool forward, otherwise a build-up of soot will occur on the weld. Also, the sowing action does not need to be so pronounced

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:38

WORKSHOP TIPS Welding stainless steel rWelding stainless can be done in the three main ways; using manual metal arc (MMA), MIG or TIG rThe preferred method would be utilising an external source of inert gas, as is done with MIG or TIG methods rBoth methods require the use of a high argon gas mix,

above 98% to avoid oxidisation of the chrome present in the base material. Other elements of the mix include helium, allowing more heat to be transferred to the weld, carbon dioxide for a stable arc, and hydrogen which helps remove oxygen from the weld area rTIG welding stainless is ideal

as, although slower than MIG welding, it transmits less heat into the metal, reducing the chance of warping while, at the same time, leaving a neat finish rTIG welding stainless requires a thorium-tungsten electrode, which should be ground to a point to produce a very concentrated area of heat. The welder for all

steels should be configured so that it is running direct current with straight polarity rWelding stainless steel up to 2.5mm thick may not require the use of a rod to add extra material to the weld pool. However, any thickness over that and for angled joints will require the use of a filler rod

so several passes are necessary rA wire with a flux core should be used, and regular farm standard gas is fine. Mild steel wire can also be used; the welding material should be more malleable than the cast

to allow for a certain amount of flex in the weld rThe cooling down process is vital. If the cast cools too quickly, it will shrink and crack, so covering it in sand or a fireproof blanket is advised

Preparing and welding cast iron rCast iron can be treated in much the same way as mild steel in its preparation, using wire brushes to remove any dirt and paint. Where cast then differs is the need for the cracked area to be gouged out using a grinder. Depending on the depth and severity of the crack, a V-profile of 3-5mm deep should be cut along the crack rWelding cast iron will never return the item back to its original strength. However, it can be useful for cosmetic purposes, or to keep a machine running while a replacement part is found rRepairing cast iron can be achieved through MIG brazing. Imperative to the success of the weld is to not subject a single area to extreme changes in temperature. Before welding commences, heating up the

Temperature control is very important when welding cast iron.

area next to the crack with a gas axe will help lower the stresses welding will put on the cast rWelding should be in short bursts to reduce the chances of heating up the cast too much. A large bead is required too,

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GOOD Evans I can tell you that badger proofing isn’t that simple This month, Roger Evans tells us how it is not that easy to badger proof his buildings with stock wandering in and out at all times of day and night, and that electric fencing all his fields would be an even bigger challenge.

92 **DF Sep p92 93 Evans.indd 2


s long as I can remember I have deliberately adopted a grumpy demeanour. As I have got older this has got easier and easier. I’m not sure if this is because I have had plenty of practice or because grumpy is just natural to me. I find that things that irritate me occur more often. I find lots of articles in the press that irritate me, and it has occurred to me that I might get upset too easily. To remedy that, and to bring some sort of order to it, when I come across an article that I think is so wrong that I’ll have to write about it, I cut it out and keep it a couple of weeks before re-reading it just to see if it still has the same effect. So here we go. There was a front page story in the Farmers Guardian a couple of weeks ago that said that farmers should take ownership of TB control. They should adopt better biosecurity. This comes from someone called James Russel who is some sort of TB representative. I’ve had the same sort of advice from Ministry vets. We’ve just lost 14 young cattle to TB and they said they had isolated the source of infection as coming from badgers. “Badger proof your yard and buildings,” he said. In early spring and late autumn our cows can come home at any time, day or night, to top up their appetites with the silage we put on offer. All that would have to stop because if the cows can come home, so can the badgers. Because we are now organic we don’t grow just as much grass as when we used fertiliser so we have extended the grazing platform to the ground we rent two miles away, and most weeks we bring fresh grass home on a zero grazing system. When there is fresh grass on offer the cows can come

home at will, so we would have to stop that as well. Most of our fresh grass and silage is fed at a barrier and eaten off the floor. I was advised to put it in mangers that I could badger proof as an important step to improving biosecurity. The only trouble is that at present we cart our feed out with a loader. If we had mangers we would have to buy some sort of feeder wagon to put silage or grass in there. Can you feel the cost of all this climbing? I can. But we are not finished yet, not by a long way. “Of course,” he says, “you will need to raise the height of your drinking troughs both in fields and buildings so that badgers can’t drink out of them.” Sensitive This would be a big piece of work as the milking cows drink mostly out of big round tanks. They used to drink out of a stream but the Environment Agency stopped that in order to protect the fresh water mussels that live about 10 miles away. At this point, if you were a sensitive person, it would be easy to think that you were also a second class citizen. But all the tanks in our buildings, and all the other tanks, would have to be raised. Finally I get a word in. “But what’s the point in all this expense if the badgers mix among the cows when they are at grass?” You can see where badgers have been when you fetch the cows in for morning milking, as they leave their marks in the dew as they cover the ground turning over dung pats looking for grubs and worms. Besides, we have more than 20 fields and only three of them are not adjoined by a wood. I’m not grumpy at the moment because some very good friends are calling and are going to take us out for Sunday lunch. But I remember ramping up the irritability a few notches at his reply. “You could easily

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:42

To say ‘easily’ means they have no concept of what is involved

electric fence every field so that badgers can’t get in there.” Now that makes me so cross. To say ‘easily’ means they have no concept of what is involved. I’ve seen the keepers fox proofing their pheasant pens with electric fences and they do that quite well, but those fences won’t stop a badger if he is so inclined. The badger is not necessarily after the poults, he is probably after the pheasant food, but he will leave a gaping hole for the fox to get in and he will see to your poults. Biosecurity I’ll tell you what would improve biosecurity. If I could send a couple of youths down the fields one night a month, with rifles and lamps. I’m not allowed to do that but it would be cheap and effective way, and until we are allowed to do that, this whole sorry mess will continue. Putting my anger aside, the farmers and tractor drivers are in a tight group by the bar. One of the trac-

tor drivers has got a new big tractor and he is telling them all about it. It must be good stuff because they are all listening, which is unusual as they all like talking together, and some even have their mouths open. As far as I can make out, he has a guidance system that enables him to plough or mow a field so effectively that there is no double working and what I call ‘short’ ground is kept to a minimum. I don’t know why I am trying to explain this to you as I don’t understand it myself. The advance of modern tractor technology left me trailing in its wake years ago. But the best is yet to come, you just have to be patient. Well, it seems he has lost the key but he’s too afraid to tell his boss. He’s hoping he has just mislaid it and that it will eventually turn up. In the meantime he is able to start the tractor, which in turn starts all the computer wizardry that is included, by using the key like device that we are all familiar with and that we normally use to open a tin of corned beef!

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p92 93 Evans.indd 3

93 14/08/2019 16:39

BUSINESS Clinic Continual improvement in margins is a discipline required by all milk producers, but can be a delicate balancing act. In the next in our series on dairy financial performance, we explore trends in margins and consider prospects looking forward with Promar.

National viewpoint: More milk or cow in-calf?


SOURCE: Promar Milkminder averages

ccording to Promarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national consultancy manager Nigel Davies, when most producers wake up in the morning the first piece of management information they seek is how much milk is in the tank. But milk in the tank is an outcome of previous management decisions. These other aspects can all be measured and are actually much more influential on performance than a focus on milk in the tank and should be the first key performance indicators to be sought out and assessed. Top of the list should be those related to fertility and herd reproductive performance, he says. Improving cow fertility is not a new message, perhaps because attention has focused too much on the direct numerical advantage of getting more cows in-calf sooner rather than the wider management benefits that impact profit and make a difference to the working routine. Comparison of National


Nigel Davies

Milkminder data for May 2019 shows the correlation between the relatively simple measure of the percentage of cows calved and annual yield per cow for the average and top 20% of herds ranked on MOPF per cow. A higher calving percentage is correlated to higher annual milk yields. (See table, below). A freshly calved cow giving 42 litres/day will generate ÂŁ47 more income per week than a cow which took a long time to get in-calf and is producing 18 litres/day prior to going dry.

JMr Davies advises the following benefits of better fertility be taken into account: rDry cows: More consistent and manageable dry cow groupings rMilk supply: More predictable forward milk supply and cashflow rBuildings: More manageable allocation of building space at calving and when in-milk rLabour: Easier to manage labour allocation and workloads

Oliver Williams

JIn the last three years, we have moved from 200 to 450 cows, so our focus has been on building numbers and achieving the planned scale of operations. We purchased a lot of cows and heifers and kept heifers that should ideally have gone. Having reached our target herd size, the emphasis can now shift to tightening up on all aspects of performance and building strong foundations for the future by buying fewer animals, culling harder and improving production. Key to this will be improving, then maintaining, fertility performance. High levels of fertility performance will underpin our

This is reason in itself to focus on herd reproductive performance, but there are so many other good reasons to do so as well. Taking a new look at fertility management could open the door to a range of efficiency improvements, boosting financial performance and meaning more profitable milk in the tank, says Mr Davies.

Table: Comparison of Milkminder herds for May 2019 Calving percentage (calvings per 100 cows) Annual rolling milk yield (litres/cow)

94 **DF Sep p94 95 Promar.indd 2

Average herds by MOPF per cow 97.3%

Top 20% of herds by MOPF per cow 101.5%



SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 09:33

BUSINESS CLINIC Oliver Williams, a Northamptonshire producer and Promar client, outlines the key challenges facing his business and what action he is taking in conjunction with his Promar consultant.

Farmer viewpoint: Improving fertility herd, allowing us to improve genetic merit, improve yields and feed efficiency, and drive down herd replacement costs which are a major issue on many units. To help us get a real grip on getting cows and heifers in-calf, in October 2018 we joined Genus ABS Reproductive Management Service (RMS) and the improvements have been marked. Pre-RMS, we were averaging a 53% heat detection rate and a 14% pregnancy rate. Our RMS technician walks and chalks heifers due for service, as well as our open cow and heifer groups, and we have three people on-farm who can serve cows.

Better fertility has contributed to increased yields per cow.

Optimum time Heat detection rate has increased to 67%, and by serving cows at the optimum time, we have driven pregnancy rate to 21%. We are starting to realise the rewards of the focus on fertility. For optimum efficiency across the unit, we want nine or 10 calvings per week from cows and heifers

to help maintain a level profile. Better fertility has contributed to increased yields per cow, currently up about 10% on last year. We are starting to cull out cows with long lactations due to poor previous fertility, which is helping reduce average days in milk.

Sexed semen is being used to breed replacement heifers.

The decrease in low yielding cows is helping improve feed efficiency and reduce feed rate per litre, because as we only feed one TMR, stale cows can be overfed. It also means fewer problem cows are being seen by the vet, helping reduce total vet costs. By using sexed semen, we are increasing the number of heifer calves out of heifers and are producing all the heifers we need, but not too many. Surplus heifers are an unnecessary luxury that absorb resources and increase total costs of production. We no longer need to buy in animals. Sexed dairy semen means we can produce more beef calves, which are an important income stream. We are crossing cows to British Blues and supplying a single buyer who takes 12-15 calves a fortnight at two weeks old. I estimate that, thanks to better reproductive management,

we will increase beef sales by about £30,000/year, or £67/ cow on the gross margin. This is equivalent to increasing milk yield by 225 litres/cow, or the milk income from an additional nine cows.

Focus By focusing on fertility, we expect to see improvements in margin over purchased feeds and gross margin, as we increase milk and calf income, improve feed efficiency and drive down herd replacement costs.

Fairy’s Lodge Farm r465 cows rAll-year-round calved and housed rMilked three times-a-day rAverage yield per cow of 10,642 litres rConcentrate feed rate of 0.39kg/litre

SEPTEMBER 2019 **DF Sep p94 95 Promar.indd 3

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BUSINESS CLINIC STAFFING & RECRUITMENT The problem of finding suitable staff is an ever increasing worry on many dairy units, so how do you recruit and retain the people you need. Hannah Noble spoke to Paul Harris, managing director of the Real Success Consultancy, for some tips.

Top tips for recruiting and keeping your staff


he agricultural industry has a recruitment problem which centres around attracting people into a career in farming, says Paul Harris. “You are always going to need people, and ironically that is the bit the industry has invested in the least,” he says. He stresses the need for planning when recruiting new staff, and this can be particularly difficult when someone has left at short notice. “The team is one person down and people are hired in a panic, and this is not the best way to recruit. “I normally tell clients it will take three months to find the right person. It is better to be without someone for two months than have the wrong person for 10 years,” he stresses. “Just because someone has left does not mean you need to replace them with exactly the same person – often it is an opportunity to change the team.” He advises to always make sure you have written job descriptions for all the roles on the farm as well as person specifications, as

Top tip JMake people feel important and valued, take interest in the needs of their families, empower them with responsibilities, and make sure you stick to any promises of training and development.

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Anybody under the age of 50 will go straight to Google or Facebook to find out about your business this helps you identify what sort of person you need to employ for each role. Identifying the sort of person needed to fit the role allows the advert to be targeted at the right level to find an employee with the required skills and experience. Also, focus on what will attract the right candidate to your farm, but additionally consider what factors would put them off. Advert The finished job advert should include the job title and location, followed by some general information about the farm and the specifics of the role being advertised. Follow this with a brief outline of rewards, support and possible training included in the role. Keep the advert positive, make a big deal of the perks like accommodation availability, rewards and training packages. Add some local knowledge, Mr Harris says, especially if you are looking to attract a


interview using a short questionnaire carried out over the telephone. When it comes to interviewing prospective new staff, often the techniques used on farm leave a lot to be desired. Very few people within the agricultural sector, especially on farms, have ever been taught how to interview people properly, he claims. Mr Harris suggests asking open questions, rather than leading questions, to put them in a position where they have to extend their answers.

family, and so include information on local schools and amenities. He recommends creating a website. “Anybody under the age of 50 will go straight to Google or Facebook to find out about your business, and if you do not have an online presence, how are they meant to find out about you?” Even a simple free website would create a good impression and allow prospective employees to get a feeling for the farm and learn a little about it. He says: “Your reputation is incredibly important, and that’s about how people talk about you and perceive your business in the industry.” Draw up a list of criteria that are essential for the role, and those which are desirable, as this will help you sort through applications and identify candidates which fulfil these requirements. Any applicants who do not meet the essential criteria can be rejected at this point. Mr Harris recommends pre-screening applications prior to

Valued Ensure once the chosen candidate has accepted the role, they undergo a proper on-boarding process. Organising time spent with each member of staff or team on the farm can help the new person to start their employment feeling valued and welcome. But you haven’t finished then, he says. Once a new employee has joined the team, it is just as important to work at keeping them. “Most people will leave your business not because of money, or because of the house, or the cows, but the way you speak to them,” says Mr Harris. Make people feel important and valued, take interest in the needs of their families, empower them with responsibilities, and make sure you stick to any promises of training and development. Mr Harris says sharing with them the vision for the business can be a great way to make staff feel included in the future of the farm.

SEPTEMBER 2019 16/08/2019 15:00

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97 16/08/2019 12:01

BUSINESS CLINIC FINANCE In January 2018 the Chancellor asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to review various aspects of Inheritance Tax (IHT), and their second report has just been released. Sam Kirkham, of Albert Goodman, looks at the implications.

Proposals for IHT reform

Complications arise where the farmer moves out to go into care and does not return

Sam Kirkham


he first area the OTS looked at was the main reliefs from IHT, namely Business Property Relief (BPR) and Agricultural Property Relief (APR). Here the OTS has made recommendations for change as it applies to diversified farms and estates. To qualify for BPR, the business must not consist of wholly or mainly holding investments. As it stands, a diversified farming business with a rental business will qualify for BPR on the combined business (including rentals) if the investment (rental) business is not greater than 50% of the combined business. For Capital Gains Tax (CGT) purposes, to claim holdover relief or entrepreneurs relief, the test is not a ‘wholly or mainly’ test but a ‘substantial’ test – greater than 80%. In addition, the OTS has recommended consideration be given to whether it is appropriate that BPR should have a lower level test for trading than for holdover and entrepreneurs relief. There is a proposition that these should be aligned and this would suggest it should be to the higher CGT test. The other element is that business owners will need to review the structure of their businesses to ensure they would be able to meet the 80% ‘substantially’ test should this recommendation be adopted. Then there is the treatment of

Expert opinion rThe major impact on farming estates will be the recommendation to align the IHT BPR test with the CGT test and to remove the CGT uplift on relievable assets, and farmers should consider whether they need to take any action now.

98 **DF Sep p98 Finance.indd 2

furnished holiday lets (FHL). HMRC’s guidance explains FHLs will not qualify for BPR as the income consists of rental. However, where the level of additional services provided is so high that the activity can be considered as not an investment, then that case will be considered on its own facts. This creates confusion in itself, as FHLs are effectively deemed to be trading for the purposes of income tax and CGT.

Conditions The OTS has recommended consideration is given to aligning the IHT treatment of FHL with that of income tax and CGT, where certain conditions are met. This would be welcome for many farms and estates with FHLs. Another element is the case of farmers in care. In order to qualify for APR, the farmhouse must be occupied for the purposes of agriculture. Complications arise where the farmer moves out to go into care and does not return. HMRC consider these on a case by case basis, leading to uncertainty. The second main area concerns lifetime gifts. There is no doubt that the array of different gift exemptions together with the tax treatment of a gift which comes into charge to IHT on death is both complex and widely misunderstood. The OTS has recommended replacing the annual gift exemption, and gifts in consideration of marriage, with an overall gift allowance. However, they have also recommended this single allowance replaces the useful exemption for normal gifts out of income. As the reliefs have not increased for many years, they have also recommended consideration is given to the level of the allowance.

Of most note in the press is their recommendation to decrease the current seven-year period, during which a lifetime gift may become subject to IHT, to five years, together with the abolition of taper relief. This would be a welcome change and would reduce a lot of the misunderstanding, particularly with taper relief – many people do not appreciate taper relief is only relevant to gifts of value made over the nil rate band of £325k. The OTS has recommended alternative ways to change the way IHT operates on lifetime gifts. This is another area of common misunderstanding – many people are not aware the recipient of a lifetime gift is liable for the IHT payable on that gift when the donor dies within seven years. In addition, that the nil rate band is first allocated to gifts in the seven years before death before any remaining is available to relieve the assets left on death. Thirdly, there is the interaction with CGT. On death, no CGT is payable but the assets are uplifted to market value. Therefore assets can be sold shortly afterwards without CGT. Further, where an asset is exempted or relieved from IHT through APR/BPR, the CGT uplift means the asset can be sold without either IHT or CGT being payable. The ability to receive a CGT uplift on death can put people off passing assets on to the next generation during their lifetime. To remove this distortion the OTS has recommended the CGT uplift is removed where a relief or exemption from IHT applies. For those delaying lifetime gifts of IHT relievable assets, to benefit from the CGT uplift on death, it may be sensible to progress gifts now.

SEPTEMBER 2019 13/08/2019 11:43

Farming 4.0: Join the farming revolution Exhibit in the new Farming 4.0 zone, which will focus on two areas that are fundamental to the future of the UK farming industry: Innovative new technology and how it will help sustain the future of food production. Recruitment, training and development courses which will play an important role in encouraging new talent into agriculture and reflect the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s need to develop a highly skilled workforce. Utilise the zone to promote your advanced devices, robotic milking systems, VR, AR, future farming technology, autonomous and GPS systems that will promote a sustainable future for the industry. Or publicise your training, career and professional development courses to recruit new employees, apprentices and attract a progressive audience. It's great to see a big show like LAMMA dedicating itself in part to the next agricultural revolution with the new Farming 4.0 zone. Drone Ag is going to be releasing Skippy Scout soon, and we're very excited to be showing off this brand new, innovative technology within a dedicated zone. Drone Ag, Farming 4.0 exhibitor

Exhibit from just ÂŁ1,284 - Limited spaces available Contact Nicky Hunt on 07971 666 371 or DF_09_IBC.indd 1


14/08/2019 14:03


Reduction in liner slips*



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improvement in teat condition scoring*

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shorter milking time*


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higher milk-flow*

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milkings lifetime of cartridge*


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The future of milking is here. Visit *Compared to DeLaval Harmony clusters with round liners, under the same conditions and settings on pilot farms. Results may vary and are not guaranteed.

DF_09_OBC.indd 1 Full page Evanza.indd 1

13/08/2019 12:16 12/08/2019 14:14:13

Profile for Briefing Media Ltd

Dairy Farmer - September 2019  

Dairy Farmer - September 2019