Page 1

DAIRY December 2013

Vet’s View


How to improve heat detection Pages 22-23 Volume 60 Issue 12



at the first sign...

First five-box robot arrives on UK farm


Still useful yardstick for producers?


Tim Gibson, British Farming Awards Winner 2013 Hunter’s Hill Farm, Bedale @Robotmilkman

Pages 26-27

Rubbing in UDDERMINT has been our first line of defence for over 20 years, especially since switching to robots 12 years ago. The conductivity sensors help us target the quarters even earlier and more accurately.

Latest launches in dairy marketplace NEW PRODUCTS

UDDERMINT is used worldwide over 5 million times per year!

Pages 48-49


MILK PRICES Pages 44-46

Tip of the month: Meeting two-year calving targets – p30

Teisen Products Ltd. Redditch, Worcs. B96 6RP. Tel: (01527) 821488

New Holland WP DF_New Holland WP AF 22/11/2013 11:20 Page 1

**DF Dec p1 Leader_Layout 1 22/11/2013 13:16 Page 1


a word from the


he idea the UK could soon have too much milk may easily be dismissed as preposterous, especially when we have milk buyers currently elbowing each other in the mad scramble to get their hands on supply and offering a plethora of incentives to encourage output. True, we may not face a long-term surplus, but the omens are pointing to a short term one next spring. Look at the facts – cows are in fair nick, forage stocks are good and, to top it all, the economics are right. The milk to feed price ratio is set to climb to a near alltime high this winter giving a positive signal to producers to exploit the situation and make up for prior shortfalls. Just cast your minds back to April 2012 when so-called distressed milk was sent from the mainland to Northern Ireland for processing because production here was running ahead of what our factories could physically manage.



Then add to that heady mix the fact production in Southern Ireland is racing ahead, as following the grassy autumn it almost can’t help itself. It is already over quota and black market milk is said to be starting to appear on our market. If their early calvers continue in similar vein, they will be pumping out the white stuff come next spring, and if some of that comes into the UK – either N Ireland or the mainland – as seems likely, then it will only serve to exacerbate the problem. If all of these drivers conspire, then we look set to be producing more milk than we can properly handle. And we all know what that does to price! Happy Christmas to you all.

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Dairy Farmer, Briefing Media Ltd, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ

Origination by Farmers Guardian, Briefing Media Ltd, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ. Printed by Headley Brothers, Invicta Press, Queen’s Road, Ashford, Kent TN24 8HH. No responsibility can be accepted by Dairy Farmer for the opinions expressed by contributors.




**DF Dec p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 22/11/2013 13:56 Page 1


CONTENTS december Volume 60 Issue 12

Change in direction On-farm

12-14 Comment

4-6 8-9 16-17 54-55

Latest news Cowmen Comment Potter’s View Good Evans

Investment, a change in location and a move from arable into dairying

Regulars 22-23 44-46 50 56

Vet’s View Milk Prices Workshop tips Finance


Milking Machines Special feature


Including a look at the UK’s longest milking machine, how a rapid exit parlour has prompted a rethink in routine for one unit, and we take a look at the new dairy at Newton Rigg



**DF Dec p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 22/11/2013 13:55 Page 2



Tips from the US Heifer management


Forage analysis Nutrition

Top tips on how to improve heifer management


Care is needed to balance this year’s forage crops and ensure rumen health

Workshop Tips




Helpful ideas on speeding up cattle handling

Find out how your pension could help your cash flow


Happy Cows = Happy Farmers!

T: +44 (0) 2870 868430




**DF Dec p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 22/11/2013 14:18 Page 1

NEWS News in brief Meadow Foods recruitment up

JMeadow Foods, the UK’s largest independent dairy ingredients supplier, has recruited its 600th milk producer – Roblin and Sons who milk 300 cows at Clynderwen, in Pembrokeshire. The number of farmers wanting to sell their milk to Meadow Foods has increased by more than 15% in the last year, it said. The company now employs more than 250 people and has a turnover of more than £340m.

Dairy Crest profits

JDairy Crest had a revenue of £672m in its first half year trading for 2013 (to 30 September), down 2% on the same period last year. Profits before tax were £19.7m, compared to a £13.1m loss for the same period last year.

NMR’s boost

JNational Milk Records has reported an increase in performance – with profits over the last six months of trading up 60% to £657,000. This has resulted from increased turnover from expanding its testing capabilities, increased profit and turnover within NML, the consolidation of testing facilities, and a reduction in debt.



Market looks set to reach its peak espite farmgate milk prices continuing to increase, there is growing concern markets will ease in the first part of 2014 on the back of increasing supplies from EU, US and New Zealand. The past weeks have seen a handful of companies moving their prices forward – First Milk by 0.65p on liquid and 0.5p on manufacturing, newcomer to recruiting Crediton Dairy up 1ppl to a respectable 34.36p, and Arla Milk Link up 0.78p to 33.83p. One major exception is Dairy Crest’s formula price which has taken another nose-dive on the back of falling feed prices, and is

down 0.25p to 31.68ppl for December. Higher milk prices when twinned with falling feed prices have lifted the milk price to feed price ratio to 1.24. On track This, according to Kite Consulting, is the first time it has been over its longterm average of 1.19 since early 2012. At a level of 1.3 – which it is on track to be – farmers will really start to feed hard as the returns from doing so are high. The last time the ratio was at such a giddy high was in January 2009. Markets are still holding high, but are definitely on the wane as seen with butter which fell from

£3500/tonne to £3450/t. New Zealand butter is due to come into the EU from January at the minimum (pre-duty) price of €2835/t (£2371/t). Once import duties, shipping and a margin are added the price would probably be up near the €3700/t to €3750/t mark (£3094/t). How much is destined for the EU, and the UK, is unknown. Not even Fonterra knows, it says. Meanwhile, the Global Dairy Trade auction remains flat, with the last one on November 19 up only 0.1%. This follows a 1.9% drop two weeks before. It means there has been hardly any movement of the index since July/August.

JIreland’s milk production is running significantly ahead of quota and there are alleged shenanigans taking place. There have been reports of milk being ‘smuggled’ out of the country to both Northern Ireland and possibly Wales. Press adverts have apparently been placed with ‘opportunistic

operators offering to purchase over quota milk at knock down prices’, said the Irish Farmers Association. Dr Mike Johnston, Northern Ireland Director of Dairy UK, said: “This is an extremely serious matter for the Northern Ireland dairy industry as a whole. The actions of a few individuals are putting at risk the liveli-

hood of all dairy farmers in Northern Ireland. “Facilitating the smuggling of milk into Northern Ireland jeopardises our dairy product exports, as well as the trust that consumers have in the integrity of our products. I would encourage all dairy farmers to report anything suspicious to the authorities,” he said.


Irish milk smuggled to the UK?


**DF Dec p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 22/11/2013 13:18 Page 2

Getting started


JTo support the next generation of British farmers, Tesco has launched its own Future Farmer Foundation to help young people get started in agriculture. Tesco will offer a minimum of fifteen young people a bespoke package of leadership training, business planning, mentoring, supply chain experience and networking opportunities. The Foundation is funded by Tesco and free for participants. Successful applicants will be able to choose a programme suited to their own aspirations and business needs. The Foundation is open to candidates aged 20 to 35 who live and work in the United Kingdom. Closing date for applications is December 31, 2013. Apply online at

Majority go for signing up to amba ost of Arla Foods Milk Partnership’s 1300 farmers – some 85% – have given a thumbs up to ownership of Arla Foods amba. The figure exceeds even the most optimistic of estimates, and commenting on the success of the roadmap, Jonathan Ovens, chairman of AFMP, said: “The farmer board is absolutely delighted so many members have committed to becoming co-owners. This says members and the board have the same vision to share in the success of Europe’s largest dairy co-operative and demonstrates democracy in action.


Analyser winner

“Arla is a business owned by farmers for the benefit of farmers, and from January 1, 2014, they will get the security of a milk price determined by European and world markets.” Arla did not release a volume figure, but did state it would open up ownership to a ‘limited number of dairy farmers who currently do not supply Arla’. The deadline for all farmers to have signed a new contract was November 30, 2013, prior to full co-operative membership commencing on January 1, 2014. AFMP members who chose not to become coowners have, in the main, signed a direct supply contract with Arla in the UK.

Need answers, but short on time?

rWinner of the Ekomilk Scan analyser competition is Mr Stephen Kendall, who runs 500+ cows at St Ingungar Farm, Laniver, Bodmin. Well done to Mr Kendall and thanks to all who entered.

New Holland competition

rDairy Farmer and sister publication Farmers Guardian have once again teamed up with New Holland to offer one lucky person the opportunity to win a T6 or T7 Auto Command for a year. To enter simply visit any of the Farmers Guardian/New Holland competition stands at Lamma 2014, or enter online at www.farmersguardian. com/lammacomp


If you’ve got a question ask NWF • Online hub of information for dairy, beef and sheep farmers • Answers and advice for specific questions • Regularly updated with seasonal solutions • Submit your question for a solution via your smart phone, tablet or laptop Visit our FREE website for answers and solutions


for a better future

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**DF Dec p4 5 6 News _Layout 1 22/11/2013 13:18 Page 3


RSPCA calls for better labelling

JThe RSPCA wants to see meat clearly labelled with the way it was slaughtered in an attempt to give consumers that missing information. Dr Julia Wrathall, from the RSPCA farm animal science department, said: “Consumers have the right to choose whether or not they wish to buy meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning.” A recent survey showed that in GB about 3% of cattle are not stunned, 10% of sheep and goats and 4% of poultry. It has been estimated less than half of the meat from animals slaughtered by the Jewish method is sold in Kosher shops. A high proportion of the meat which is declared non-Kosher is therefore sold on the open market but is not labelled as meat from animals which have been slaughtered without pre-stunning. Also, it is currently not possible to tell whether ‘Halal’ meat comes from animals which have been pre-stunned or not. The RSPCA is calling on its supporters to contact their MEPs. See labelling for details.



First Milk confirms Adams Foods deal t had been rumoured for weeks, but finally the boards of Adams Foods and First Milk announced they have entered into a long-term strategic partnership. Under the 10-year agreement First Milk will produce a minimum of 50,000 tonnes of cheese a year, which Adams will pack and market. The partnership ‘will establish a fully integrated supply chain for hard cheese in the UK retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors through harnessing the complementary resources, skills

and experience of both companies’, said the companies. First Milk will continue to manage the sales and marketing of its cheddars to export markets, and will also be in charge of developing its new Quark product.

find Britain’s Best Dairy Cow has been won by a Jersey cow named Snowqueen. She is owned by Mark Davis, from Tiverton, Devon, who said: “She is the most beautiful cow in

Having already achieved the title of ‘Cow of The Year’ this year she is really making a name for herself. Snowqueen is so friendly and makes you want to get out of bed every day. We are very proud of her.”


Competitive First Milk ‘will receive a competitive price for the cheese’, with the deal also facilitating much-needed significant additional investment at First Milk’s creameries to ensure they are ‘among the best in the UK dairy industry’. Adams Foods, on the

other hand, will have an increased throughput of cheese at its packing plant, and gets its hands on more British made cheese. The company said: “It will reinforce Adams Foods’ position as a leading supplier of both British and Irish cheese in the UK. It builds upon its existing supply relationships with British cheesemakers as well as providing a strong platform for the further development of Adams Foods’ retail, foodservice and wholesale customer label, convenience format and branded cheddar offering.”

Make mine best cow winner Semex JThe winner of the ‘make our herd and has the most conference mine Milk’ competition to affectionate personality.

Moo man film shortlisted

JThe acclaimed Moo Man film – a documentary about a small-scale family dairy farmer and raw milk seller Steve Hook, from Hailsham,


has been nominated for Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards, to be held on Sunday, December 8.

JThere is another strong line-up of speakers at next year’s Glasgow-based Semex conference, entitled ‘Make the Right Moves’. Speakers include Defra Secretary Owen Paterson, NFU president Peter Kendall and industry commentator Ian Potter. The conference is being held from Sunday, January 12 to Tuesday, January 14. To book a place call Helen Miller on 01292 671 525, or email

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**DF Dec p8 9 Collingborn _Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:56 Page 1


ROSEMARY Collingborn

Rosemary Collingborn and her husband Joe farm a closed herd of 100 pedigree Friesian type cows, 60 young stock and breed bulls for sale. She has served on the MDC Council, Veterinary Products Committee, the RSPCA Council and was WFU dairy chairman. alving used to be twice a year, but over time this has changed to all-year-round calving, which is now deemed to be the least profitable approach. After our visits to Ireland, we could see the benefits of spring calving and made a joint decision to move the cows in that direction. However, this idea was thwarted by our highly fertile bull which was very busy last December. The result was, in reality, that September turned out to be our first effort at real block calving! We soon discovered having lots of cows calving at once meant there was little time to correct unexpected problems before they occurred. September was very grassy and the bull was in front of the vet, so some cows calved three weeks ‘early’ and didn’t get enough preparation, and probably still had too much grass. This meant we had our first displaced abomasum and several cases of ketosis, despite our best efforts with dry cow management. To correct matters, we needed to keep the cows tighter, with as little grass as possible and give calcium boluses after calving, as well as magnesium salt in their water. We also bought a ketone testing kit to check bloods to make sure we weren’t getting more cases of underlying ketosis. This involved my son-in-law who is the only one on the farm man enough to take blood! Sadly, we also lost three fresh-calved cows,

C We had our first displaced abomasum and several cases of ketosis




one from ketosis, one had an ulcer and the other a rupture. There were also three cases of twins – quite profitable ones, as one lot were British Blue mixed and the other two AI heifers. The vets say there have been a large amount of twins this year, probably due to the bad conditions at conception time. This seems to work on the basis that if your survival is threatened, then put all your energy into reproducing yourself before you die. When everything settled down here, it was a good autumn with excessive amounts of grass of relatively good quality. About the only benefit of last year was that we were forced to improve cow tracks and this has helped with autumn grazing. It is midNovember as I write, and cows are still out grazing in the daytime, though wet weather has forced them in at night. The lavish grass growth had been encouraged by a late application of nitrogen, admittedly on the last date possible (whenever that was). When we had grass analysed, at the end of October, the results were surprisingly good for the time of year. Crude protein was 23.7%, D value 64, ME 10.1, sugar 70g/kg and dry matter 20.9%. We are short of silage this year for the second year running, and were relieved to be able to balance the late grazing with ad-lib straw and some silage. For the first time we are approaching autumn with no stock bull and lots of bulling heifers. Some of these are smaller than usual due to Friesian breeding, though they should

**DF Dec p8 9 Collingborn _Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:56 Page 2


Cows were out late into autumn as the grass just seemed to keep on growing.

Farm Facts

rFARM: Family run 185 acres dairy farm in North Wiltshire rHERD: Closed herd of 100 Friesian type pedigree cows rYIELD: 7874 litres rSOIL TYPE: Heavy on Oxford clay rRAINFALL: 749mm rMILK BUYER: First Milk.

be bulled now on age. On enquiring how to make the decision when to bull, I was advised by several experts at the Shepton Mallet Dairy Show to go for ‘nipple height’. My husband added ‘when wearing a bra’, to which I indignantly replied the measure wouldn’t change under these circumstances. We still have the bull problem, even if we’ve sorted out the right size heifers. This is going to mean hormone treatment, together with close and accurate observation, and a lot of handling in the crush. A lot harder than the usual approach of letting the bull go into a field with the heifers for around six weeks. It has been a really good autumn, and I suppose it is a bit too much to ask for an extended dry period to eat off the bountiful fields all around us. Even so, I could have

done without water inside the house. I returned from a day’s holiday to find my two-year-old grandson, Abel, jumping up and down excitedly in our porch. “Will you be sad, Grandma, that it’s raining in your house?” I rushed in to find husband and son-in-law mopping up a foot of water from the kitchen floor, even as more water flowed down through the ceiling. The ball valve had stuck in the cold water tank, and the overflow was unable to cope. During the night there was a tremendous crash as the ceiling came down. You don’t appreciate it until you’ve actually seen what a devastating mess five hundred years of lathe, plaster and rat droppings, mixed with modern fibre glass, can make. Yes, Abel, I was sad!

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**DF Dec p10 11 Milk Watch_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:16 Page 1


milk watch with Boehringer Ingelheim s the year draws to a close on Myerscough College’s Lodge Farm, near Bilsborrow, Lancashire, Milk Watch farmer Roger Leach feels the 220-head herd is on an even keel. Production has edged up to about 4800 litres per day, moving the year-roundcalving herd closer to its 9000 litre per head target. Although no single factor is credited with improving


We've been following the progress of our two farmers throughout the year. Here we catch up with them for the final time in 2013.

Bedding change and better forage improves milk yields

production, a combination of better dry cow management, higher energy intakes in early lactation, and this year’s better forage have all played a part. A recent change to the cows’ bedding is also thought to have had a beneficial effect as the milking herd has significantly increased its lying times. “It was a massive decision to change from paper to sawdust, but I felt the cows were not as comfortable as they should be,” says Roger.

The whole cubicle house was emptied of its bedding, and this included under as well as on top of every rubber mat. Subsequently, Roger says data recorded by pedometers now gives a clear indication that cows are lying for longer. “Milk has definitely gone up as a result of the extra lying time, although I wouldn’t like to say by exactly how much,” he adds. Liming the cubicle beds three times a week is con-

sidered essential for maintaining udder health, and Roger says there has been no change in either cell counts or mastitis since the new bedding was introduced. Other stock on the farm are also faring well, including youngstock, which are thriving in their adapted housing. “We put our weaned calves in an old, converted silo, whose ends have been knocked out to improve the air flow,” he says. “We find

Calving goes without a hitch as targets

alving is now complete in the autumn group at Tregleath Farm, near Bodmin, Cornwall, where Milk Watch farmer James Willcocks says the process has gone very well. “We had one caesarean in the first week and four assists but, apart from this, 148 head have calved without a hitch,” he says. Generally favourable weather and good forage have also contributed to outstanding health, and the

C 10


only two cases of milk fever can be directly attributed to a change in nutrition as calving was forced indoors with the onset of heavy rain. “The loss of grazed grass and a new ration at precisely this critical time were not what was needed, but we really had no alternative,” says James. However, production from this group is as good as it has ever been, currently averaging 36.8 litres. The target of 40 litres may be difficult to meet as, by the time the maize silage


James Willcocks is optimistic about getting 4000 litres from forage.

has improved in quality, the cows will have gone off peak. “It is never a good idea to feed maize as soon as it goes into the clamp, but this year we really had no

alternative,” he says. Calves from the autumn group are said to look better than ever, for which James credits his wife Kiki. “Two years ago, when we first started block calving,

**DF Dec p10 11 Milk Watch_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:16 Page 2

SPONSORED SERIES Newborn calf management By Ian Cure -- Lambert, Leonard and May, Lancashire

rThe correct management of

newborn calves is essential. Of

particular importance is the ad-

ministration of colostrum which is the major source of protec-

tion against disease for the first

scouring, here is a simple pro-

Colostrum is not only an im-

1. Identify scouring calves as

few weeks of life.

portant source of immunoglobRoger Leach’s herd has edged closer to its 9000 litre per head target.

fresh air is the best thing for them as long as they are not in a draft. Thankfully they do not seem to suffer from any respiratory disorder.” On the north-west coast of England, where fog rolls in from the sea and hangs inside the buildings, he says the absence of pneumonia is

something of a miracle. Also verging on the miraculous has been the change in farming’s fortune as 2013 has progressed. “We started off with such a cold and difficult spring, but ended up with plenty of high quality forage and a lift in milk price,” he says.

s set for winter milk we built a new calf shed and have never had pneumonia in the young animals since then,” he says. “It is Yorkshire boarded at the back, but open on the east face against the prevailing wind, and with an open ridge the ventilation seems to be right.” Spring calvers are now winding down as the yearend approaches and will start to be dried off later this month. “They are already in by night, but will be out by day until Christmas,

making the best use of grazed grass,” says James. As he reflects on a good farming year, he says milk from forage has gone up from last year’s all-time low of about 2500 litres. “This year it stands at 3500 litres. The best we have had is 3800 litres, but my aim is to get 4000 litres from forage,” he says. With clamps full of high quality grass, wholecrop and maize, he is optimistic of achieving this goal and has high hopes for dairying and making more money from milk this winter.

ulins (Ig) to help the calf’s

immunity, but it is also an im-

portant source of nutrients and energy. Calves must receive at least 3-4 litres of colostrum in their first six hours of life.

Timing of colostrum feeding

is important because over time there is a loss of absorptive

sites in the calf’s intestine and there is always the risk of bacterial colonisation of the intestine further inhibiting uptake.

The quality of colostrum can

be measured with a densimeter. Colostrum can thereby be

graded and the total nutritional intake modified as required.

Furthermore, a selection of the best can be retained and

frozen to supplement other

calves which might otherwise be deficient in intake.

Recent studies have shown

that alongside colostrum, a key

to reducing scours and navel infections is environmental man-

agement. It is essential to keep calves as clean as possible

from birth through the first few

tocol to follow.

early as possible.

2. Give two litres warm rehydration fluids via bucket or teat (stomach tube if required) three times daily.

3. Continue feeding milk as normal to maintain sufficient energy intake.

4. Assess cases thoroughly before administering antibiotics

as they may be counter productive.

5. NSAIDs such as Metacam

are ideal to help maintain appetite, reduce fever and optimise gut function.

6. If there is profuse scour ac-

companied by severe abdominal discomfort, Buscopan 20

mg/ml may be used as recommended by your vet.

7. If affected calves are cold (hypothermic), place under heat lamp.

8. If there is no suck reflex or

the calf is severely depressed,

it may require intra venous fluid therapy. Contact your vet ASAP if worried as early treatment is far more rewarding.

weeks of life.

However, if you do find them

Metacam 20 mg/ml Solution for Injection for Cattle, Pigs and Horses contains meloxicam POM-V. Buscopan 20 mg/ml solution for injection for horses and calves contains hyoscine butyl bromide POM-V. Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Limited, Vetmedica Division, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Email: Date of preparation: Nov 2013. AHD 7913. Use Medicines Responsibly (




**DF Dec p12 13 14 On farm_Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:58 Page 1

ON FARM A renowned cereal farmer is moving north and investing more than £3 million in a dairy enterprise on the Northumberland border. Bruce Jobson reports on developments.

New dairy herd set to fit in along with arable erbyshire arable farmer John Laing decided to relocate to the Northumberland border in 2006 and purchased Stickle Heaton Farm, near Cornhillon-Tweed. The next step was to purchase another neighbouring 600ha (1500-acre) arable farm at East Learmouth. At that stage, Mr Laing did not consider embarking on a career as a dairy farmer, but fate was about to intervene. A 280ha (700-acre) dairy unit at neighbouring New Heaton Farm came on the market in 2011 and John believed the farm would make a positive addition to his cereal enterprise. He considered his options and enlisted Jonathan Hill from Promar to provide a comprehensive analysis of the set-up. Mr Laing was surprised to learn that dairying provided a better return on capital invested. He says: “New Heaton was well established, with a range of modern farm buildings. It’s highly productive, well fenced




John Laing: better return.

and drained, and fully operational as a dairy unit. “Mr Hill provided a full range of options and in the end we took the decision to purchase the farm lock, stock and barrel. “We purchased the 140-cow Holstein herd, equipment, tractors and youngstock, so overnight I became a dairy farmer. “However, I do consider myself a cereal farmer and wanted an experienced farm manager to take the business forward as a standalone dairy unit. One name kept cropping up – Mick Spears.” Mick and wife, Bridget, were based in North Yorkshire and agreed to make the move 100 miles north. Since arriving in 2012, the business, which


Bridget Spears: calf rearing.

operates under the name of Dalbury Limited as this was John Laing’s former Derbyshire location, has resulted in a comprehensive development programme. Investment In total, New Heaton was purchased for £2.2m and this included two spacious, well-equipped farm houses. Since then, an estimated £1.5m has been invested in a new milking parlour, milk silo and increasing herd numbers. A further 240 cows were purchased from the Northampton, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear areas, taking numbers to 380 cows. The investment includes a £12,000 grain bin, a 28,000 litre milk silo costing £53,000, a new GEA 32:32

Mick Spears: challenge.

herringbone parlour costing £160,000 and a further £280,000 on a new housing facility and silage clamp. Other purchases include farm equipment, tractors and implements, and overall the investment reflects Mr Laing’s confidence in the future of dairying. “Farming is all about taking the long-term view and I am optimistic about the future of the UK dairy industry,” he says. “In order to be successful, you have to invest, increase cow numbers and develop an overall strategy for the business. “I have two young sons, and in time they may wish to be part of the business. We have to start now to ensure a solid future.

**DF Dec p12 13 14 On farm_Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:58 Page 2

ON FARM “However, part of the attraction in buying New Heaton relates to our arable business. “We have an abundance of straw for the dairy unit and, in return, we have plenty of manure to spread on the arable land and help increase cereal yields and soil fertility. It’s a classic win-win situation,” he says.

Powermix Pro Diet Feeder

Dovetail Part of the successful development of New Heaton is the working relationship between Mr Laing and Mr Spears. The pair buy into each other’s ideas and the dovetailing of mutual expertise and

Nearly finished – the new shed and silage clamp are part of the £1.5m investment on the farm.

practical knowledge is evident. For Mr Spears, the opportunity to take the project forward was too good to turn down. He says: “At the time, I was not considering a move, but agreed to meet

John and visit the farm. The opportunity to develop the dairy herd is an irresistible challenge and Bridget’s involvement is essential as she is heavily involved in numerous on-farm management aspects including calf

and young stock rearing.” The new buildings under construction include a 220ft x 100ft loose housing system. The facility is designed for 180 cows, with a central feed passage incorporating Jourdain self-


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**DF Dec p12 13 14 On farm_Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:58 Page 3

ON FARM locking yokes. The building sits adjacent to a new 3000tonne silage clamp. “In time, we aim to construct another building on the north side of the silage clamp for a further 180 cows,” says Mr Spears. Expansion “The new facilities are being constructed by an established contact of John, and we hope to have the cows moving into residence for the winter. “The continued expansion will allow for youngstock to be housed in the current facilities,” he adds. The herd is milked twice a day and a team of four operates the unit. The herd is averaging 9400kg at 4.28% fat and 3.27% protein, an SCC of 90 and Bactoscan of 18. “We are feeding 1.9t of concentrate per cow, have a margin of 21ppl and margin over purchased feed of £1590,” says Mr Spears. “Calving interval is running at 420 days, and

Three cuts of silage are taken from 93ha (230 acres) of grassland and this will be supplemented by maize.

New Heaton blend Rape: 15% Beet pulp: 22% Hypro soya: 31.5% Maize distillers grains: 31.5% Concentrate: 18% HDF

will continue to decline. Obviously, increasing herd size by more than 100% has resulted in some settling down issues. We have employed Genus RMS and sires currently being used include McCormick, Ponder, Ingenius and History.” New Heaton changed its

milk supplier in October and now supplies milk to Durham-based Rock Dairies. Making inroads will take time, but by shopping around in early October, Mr Spears achieved savings of more than £30 per tonne of concentrate, resulting in total cost savings of more than £35,000 in winter feed bills. The farm takes three cuts of silage over 93ha (230 acres) of grassland and grows 40ha (100 acres) of maize. The wet weather conditions did not help last year’s crop, but 2013 has

resulted in good growing conditions and maize yield is expected to run at 3740t/ha (15-16t/acre). Cultivation Seedbed cultivation for the maize was undertaken by farm staff, and a local contractor planted the seed under plastic. Mr Spears says: “Maize is an essential part of modern dairy cow nutrition and we are looking to capitalise on the crop within the herd diet. “Over the next few years we are targeting yields of up to 10,000kg, and we also intend increasing our cow numbers to above 400 head,” he declared.

High yielding ration

Under construction -- the steel framework goes up for the housing for the herd which is projected at 400.




Silage: 34kg Straw: 0.5kg Concentrate: 2kg Barley: 4kg Spey: 1.75kg Minerals: 0.175kg Blend: 5.25kg

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**DF Dec p16 17 Potter _Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:17 Page 1



This month, Ian Potter looks at how First Milk’s new chairman, Sir Jim Paice, is making waves by kicking off his tenure by verbally setting about other industry bosses. ave you heard – ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’. Such is the famous chant from the Bushwhacker firm in the Millwall Football Club Den. It could also be the latest karaoke song for First Milk, which new chairman Sir Jim Paice has added to his list of hit songs following his remarkable public outburst against Arla and Muller CEO Ronald Kers through the pages of The Grocer magazine recently. If anyone thought First Milk’s politically experienced new chairman would use the opportunity to set out his vision for the coop’s future, and how he would stamp his mark on the business, they’d be very wrong. ‘Jim Paice picks a fight as he takes over First Milk helm’ ran the The Grocer’s headline. He certainly landed with a bang. One of the rather surprising admissions from him was that he knew the co-op had lost the Asda business before he accepted the job as chairman. Given he accepted the job in July, or at the very latest early August, with the official announcement made on August 13, it begs the question as to why First Milk only told members it had lost the contract some nine weeks later on the October 15. It’s a significant time lapse, and, crucially, after the deadline for resignations to be filed. Sir Jim claimed Arla’s ‘aggressive bidding’ had damaged the whole of the UK

H It begs the question as to why First Milk only told members it had lost the contract some nine weeks later




dairy industry by undermining cheese prices for farmers – pointing to the fact the only way Arla could make a profit from the contract is to lower the price it pays to the farmers for the milk. When I highlighted the interview in my weekly newsletter a number of First Milk members responded, with, naturally, the majority in support of Sir Jim’s attack. One of the best comments was from one of its Welsh members: “We have a situation where two milk buyers (Arla, Ronald Kers/Muller Wiseman) are doing a lot of willy waving stating they want to be the biggest,” he said. Under cutting But it also prompted counter comments: “Today First Milk’s December 1 milk price for cheese is 32.5ppl and the Arla Milk Link comparable price for October 30 is 33.83ppl. On that basis if under-cutting the market delivers a 1.33ppl+ advantage one month ahead of the competition then crack on lads and let’s have everyone under-cutting the market. In addition it has to be noted since the Asda deal was awarded to Arla, it has increased producer milk prices by 2.33ppl. I guess Sir Jim is really a politician and as one person suggested you can’t take the politician out of the man. By nature with politicians it will usually be someone else’s fault.” Sir Jim also claimed ‘First Milk is the only

**DF Dec p16 17 Potter _Layout 1 03/12/2013 10:14 Page 2

‘Jim has picked a fight with two heavyweights’

Ian Potter

rIan is a specialist milk quota and entitlement broker. Comments please to

true British dairy co-operative’. As I will come to later that is an erroneous claim. And he is quoted as saying: “There are people who would be very happy to see First Milk fail...”. Personally I haven’t heard anyone say, or even imply, that. Let’s hope this rant was a playground slap from Sir Jim, because he has picked a fight with two heavyweights at the same time, and to succeed he, his co-op, and its milk price needs to be a chart-topping heavyweight in peak fitness. Meanwhile, next month’s Oxford Farming Conference will see the after dinner speaker non other than Sir Jim Paice himself. And yes, you guessed it, the dinner’s quality cheese is kindly supplied by Arla! Will Sir Jim enjoy finishing off his meal with Arla’s cheese slipping down his throat? Now to United Dairy Farmers (United) and its Dale Farm processing business. I recently had the opportunity to question the co-op’s senior management team. United is a 100% British farmer-owned co-op which only occasionally crosses the radar. You don’t hear David Dobbin, its CEO of 14 years and whose previous PLC background was in business turn-arounds and acquisitions, looking over his shoulder and criticising others or trumpeting about what he intends to do. Instead he concentrates on tangible achievements like the fact he has presided over 12 acquisitions while at United – not one of which has failed. United and Dale Farm have both national and international presence. They are real global players in the dairy world with six processing plants (four in Northern Ireland,


one each in England and Scotland), and have what they and others say is the most advanced cheese and whey processing plant in the EU. If they are not already the largest indigenous UK dairy co-op owned by English, Scottish and Northern Irish dairy farmers employing more than 1000 people, they soon will be. It has a milk pool of more than one billion litres of milk with a projected group turnover of £475m in the current year from its combined operations. The United Group consistently make £5m or so profit each year. Preferring to stick with a farmer chairman, the largely farmer board’s focus is firmly on expansion in consumer products across the British Isles and specialised ingredients on a global basis. On direct supply recruitment they say they will continue to pay an above average GB milk price. Dale Farm’s GB plants have grown their milk pool to 60m litres of direct suppliers, and the company is recruiting for 100m by 2014. With no capital contributions to become a full co-op member, a 0.25ppl x five years’ share purchase (which if you leave is paid in full within three months), plus a fixed 0.5ppl annual co-op bonus payment, it would seem one of the most tempting contracts in town. Finally, Happy Christmas to all readers and fingers crossed for a happy and prosperous 2014. The signs, I’m afraid, are that dairy farmers need to buckle their seat belts for what looks like a choppy ride. And by that I mean on price, not from another tongue lashing!




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**DF Dec p20 21 Breeding_Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:59 Page 1


For the last six years, Canadian dairy farmers have been recording data to identify mastitis resistance. Bruce Jobson reports on the development of an index to be launched next year.

Canada set to introduce mastitis resistance index routine evaluation for mastitis resistance will officially be implemented for Holstein, Ayrshire and Jersey breeds within Canada next year. The novel approach is the result of co-operation across sections of the industry and is expected to provide wide-ranging benefits. The results will be published on the Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) website and available for international scrutiny. Canadian dairy farmers have been voluntarily recording disease occurence since 2007. The aim of the national project is to provide information to dairy producers and their veterinarians to help improve herd management and to establish a national genetic evaluation system for selection to improve disease resistance. Herd health events such as mastitis are recorded by producers using on-farm management software or record books. This inform-




More than 40% of Canadian herds have provided health data for eight identifiable diseases to CDN.

ation is then collected by milk recording technicians and forwarded to the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) association within each region. Once all recorded health events are processed within the national milk recording database, the information is sent to CDN where it is used for research purposes and for their genetic evaluation programme. During the past six years, more than 40% of all herds enrolled in milk recording schemes have been providing health data for


eight identifiable diseases. In addition to clinical mastitis, the other recorded diseases include metritis, retained placenta, cystic ovaries, lameness, milk fever, ketosis and displaced abomasums. Economic Of the eight recorded diseases, clinical mastitis is the most frequent and most often reported, highlighting the economic importance of this trait. According to CDN, the frequency of mastitis increases with each lactation

and is estimated to be 12.9% in first lactation, 18.6% in second lactation, and 22.2% in third and subsequent lactation cows. The traits dairy farmers traditionally use for selection in order to promote udder health include somatic cell count, udder depth and fore udder attachment. However, these traits, when combined, only explain 46% of the genetic variation in resistance to mastitis. The new genetic evaluation for mastitis resistance (MR) incor-

**DF Dec p20 21 Breeding_Layout 1 20/11/2013 17:59 Page 2

BREEDING porates these three predictors as well as recorded cases of mastitis, body condition score and several other measurements associated with somatic cell count. This approach has resulted in an evaluation which explains as much as 72% of the genetic variation in mastitis resistance, and therefore increases the accuracy of genetic evaluations provided by CDN. Since mastitis resistance is considered a functional trait, genetic evaluations provided by CDN will be expressed as Relative Breeding Values (RBV). An average bull in any of the three monitored breeds will have a rating of 100, and higher evaluations will reflect bulls which have daughters genetically more resistant to mastitis, such as a rating of 110. Despite the relatively low heritability of 4% for

mastitis resistance, large differences exist between bull daughter groups. The percentage of diseased daughters varies between 6.3% and 22% among the groups of 10 sires, on the basis of the best and worst available for mastitis resistance respectively. One in five In other words, for the worst performing bulls, one out of every five daughters had a case of mastitis, whereas only one out of every 15 daughters of the best performing sires was affected by mastitis. The resulting indices will benefit dairy farmers, says CDN general manager Brian Van Doormal. “Comparing the average incidence rates of mastitis in daughters of sires which are highly or poorly ranked clearly demonstrates benefits in genetic evaluation and selection programmes in order to

Percentage of diseased daughters for the 10 best and 10 worst Holstein sires for mastitis resistance Number of sires evaluated % of disease daughters 10 best 10 worst 22 6.2% 22% improve disease resistance in dairy cattle,” he says. “However, concern is occasionally voiced with regard to selection for low heritability traits. “It is important to note that when correlated traits with a lot of historical data are included in a genetic evaluation model, such as somatic cell and udder depth in the case of mastitis resistance, the accuracy of the resulting evaluations increases. “Further progress can be

made, even for low heritability traits, with the best strategy being the combination of genetic selection, alongside the use of best herd health management practices,” says Mr Van Doormal. “With increased on-farm recording, the accuracy of the mastitis resistance evaluation will undoubtedly improve and new health traits, such as resistance to metabolic disorders, could be developed,” he says.

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UK cost of mastitis per case

rThe economic cost of mastitis to UK dairy farmers continues to increase according to the latest DairyCo figures based on an average herd of 125 cows, yielding 7327 litres per cow and a milk price of 32.82 ppl. The cost of a mild case of mastitis, calculated in September 2013,

through the DairyCo Mastitis Cost Calculator, is estimated at £54.33. The figure increases to £225 per case when other costs such as lost milk yield are included. A severe case of mastitis costs £284.18, rising to £1218, and an average fatal case can cost £3039.


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**DF Dec p22 23 Vets View_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:01 Page 1


Heat detection on farm is crucially important for good herd reproductive performance. Esme Wilson, of Synergy Farm Health, gives her views on what’s available to aid heat detection.

Variety of aids to help improve heat detection ets on routine fertility visits are frequently presented with ‘non-bullers’ which appear to be cycling, and that begs the question of why are they not being seen bulling? According to some sources, only 40-50% of cows will show signs of oestrus and that is usually at night. Added to this, only 50% of very high yielding cows will stand to be mounted, so it can easily be missed. Heat detection is the main event for dairy cow reproductive success. By using a range of heat detection




aids, observing cows in oestrus can be made easier, thereby improving submission rates and calving intervals. Obviously there are expensive pieces of technology on the market, which can be very useful, but it does not have to be a costly approach. Detection aids The staff at one of our client farms understand the importance of good heat detection, and have implemented the use of several aids to help them identify their bulling cows. East Lease Farm, is an organic farm so they do not have the option to use hormones for


synchronisation, and therefore good heat detection is even more crucial. So what is available? Stickers such as Estrotect and Kamars are easy to use and give a very clear result. These are best used on a case by case basis, such as cows which have received prostaglandin treatment from the vet, or, as they do at East Lease, on cows with a history of quiet heats that have been confirmed as cycling by the vet within the last 21 days. The correct position for these is on the high point between the pin bones. Please note that

false positives from cubicles and brushes can occur, so it is important to be aware of when cows are due to come cycling. In addition, East Lease has had a vasectomised bull with a chin rub running with the cows – one with the heifers and one with the high yielders. This has been effective as the rub marks are obvious and highlight which cows staff need to pay close attention to. Vasectomy is a simple operation and means you can have an infertile but sexually active bull running with the cows. Remember there are always safety issues with bulls on farm, and experience at East Lease would suggest changing the bull every six to eight months to stop them becoming lazy. Heatime® is also used at East Lease. It helps pinpoint the best time to serve cows, but they feel it is most useful when cows are inside as inaccuracies can occur when cows are walking long distances in summer. There are several com-

**DF Dec p22 23 Vets View_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:01 Page 2

VET’S VIEW puterised systems now on the market which can be a useful investment, however there is a risk of people relying on them – they are still only an aid. Made popular by New Zealand style seasonal grazing systems, as well as RMS systems, is the use of tail paint or chalk. This is highly cost effective and can give fantastic results. Correct application is a 5cm wide, 20cm long strip over the tail head and frequent reapplication is necessary. By using different colours you can differentiate between fresh, served and pregnant cows. One of our clients uses a mirror attached to a long pole to make it easy to check for rubs from the pit of the parlour. Lastly, it must be remembered nothing can substitute for observation. All staff should be trained in heat detection and having an on-farm protocol is advised. With some cows in oestrus for only six hours it is important to check cows at least three times a day, the best times being after milking and feeding and late at night. For this, clear cow identification, accurate recording and good lighting is essential. The staff at East Lease take it in turns to carry out heat detection. They check cows four times a day and record all the cows they see on heat, even if they are still in

Heat detection tips

rMake a proper detection procedure list rObserve cows three to four times a day rUse more than one aid rHave regular routine vet visits rTrial different aids.

their voluntary wait period. Where cattle are housed it is important they are not overstocked and have an adequately sized loafing area with non-slip flooring where the sexually active group can congregate and will feel safe to stand when mounted. Low submission Although poor heat detection is often the reason behind low submission rates and rising calving intervals, it is important to remember lameness,

nutrition and infectious disease can all impact on oestrus activity and fertility in general. Routine mobility scoring and regular bulk milk tank screening for common diseases is an easy way to check if these are a problem on your farm. Whichever aids you choose, they have to be right for your particular farm. The crucial thing is that you have realised the importance of heat detection and it is high on your agenda.

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**DF Dec p24 25 Youngstock_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:29 Page 1

YOUNGSTOCK Producers are missing an opportunity to rear heifers with the ability to achieve their potential in terms of conceiving to first service, milk yield and survivability. That was the message to delegates attending Volac’s youngstock conference in Ayr last month.

Spanish research offers pointers for calf rearing eifers grown rapidly in early life can be expected to yield more milk in their lifetime. That is the opinion of Spanish researcher, Dr Alex Bach, of the Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood (IRTA). “Recommended growth and calving age targets for heifers are not being commonly attained in practice,” he said. “We need data – all farmers must measure and monitor their heifers’ growth, which will enable them to determine if they are achieving their goals. They must balance economics with biology and consider the entire rearing phase. “For starters, a heifer’s feed conversion efficiency is


optimum pre-weaning, so it makes economic sense to exploit growth rates and grow her as quickly as possible in early life. Do not limit feed,” he told his audience. (See Table 1). Milk replacer To achieve calving at 23 months with a body weight of 650kg, IRTA trial findings indicated feeding six litres of milk per day during the first eight weeks was the most cost effective. (See Table 2). “Despite increasing the milk replacer cost by feeding more over the first two months, you lower the total rearing feed cost when feeding six litres of milk compared to four litres due to the higher feed efficiency during the milk feeding period. “It is cheaper to put

Table 1: Feed efficiency of heifers during the rearing period Period Age (weeks) Feed efficiency* (%) Milk feeding 0-9 50 Transition 9-17 36 Grower I 17-32 19 Grower II 32-47 11 Grower III 47-57 9 Breeding 57-66 9 * (Average daily gain)/(dry matter intake) x 100 Source: IRTA




Dr Alex Bach: trials indicate six litres/day for the first eight weeks.

weight on stock earlier,” Dr Bach claimed. Rate of growth of young calves correlated with future milk production, according to another IRTA study. Heifers recording higher daily liveweight gains pre-weaning went on to produce more milk in their first lactation. This trend was also reflected in a recent study at the Royal Veterinary College (London), according to Volac’s Dr Jessica Cooke, who reported that heifers calving at less than 26 months produced the most milk per cow over their first five years of life, a figure which was associated with both more lactations per unit of time and a

higher survival rate. “As age at first calving increased beyond 25 months, proportionately fewer animals actually achieved a third calving,” said Dr Cooke. “Add together the benefits of reducing age at first calving to between 23 to 25 months and important cost savings can be made, along with a reduced number of replacements required,” said Dr Bach. Mimicking nature The impact of age at first calving on heifer numbers required and their rearing costs in a 100-cow herd with a 30% replacement rate is shown in Table 3. Feeding calves milk on a little and often basis mimics natural practice and prevents the risk of them from suffering type 2 diabetes, said Dr Bach. Recent findings from IRTA trials indicated that animals fed four litres in just two feeds a day (eight litres/day) led to rapid increases in blood glucose, and when a glucose

**DF Dec p24 25 Youngstock_Layout 1 22/11/2013 10:07 Page 2

YOUNGSTOCK Table 2: Rearing costs for heifers calved at 23 months (650kg) Average weight gain Total rearing Volume milk fed feed cost during the first (litres/day) during (Euros) 2 months (kg/day) the first 2 months 1038 0.5 4 996 0.8 6 1009 1.0 8 Source: IRTA

tolerance test was performed on these calves, it was found the amount of insulin needed to maintain glycaemia rose drastically. Consequently, these heifers were prone to insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, a state that, if sustained, is associated with ketosis together with increased external body fat and marbling in older cattle. In comparison, calves fed two litres twice a day, when

exposed to the glucose tolerance test, needed to produce much less insulin than the calves receiving four litres twice a day. “These findings indicate that calves have not evolved to handle large volumes in a single shot,” he said. “The maximum volume I would offer in one feed is three litres. Small (maximum three litres per feed), frequent feeds (at least two per day), are preferred.”

Table 3: Age at first calving and impact on rearing costs Age at first Number of Annualized rearing calving (months) heifers required feed cost (Euros) 22 57 23,000 24 63 27,000 28 73 37,000 Source: IRTA

Contrary to some opinions, growth rates could be further accelerated by introducing forage to pre-weaned calf diets, said Dr Bach. Intakes IRTA trials found that concentrate intakes increased by 30% when 2cm chopped oat straw was introduced to the starter feed from two weeks. “This was due to the rumen being stimulated,

and in particular the growth and development of preferred short papillae and transporters of volatile fatty acids. However, alfalfa hay and tasty forages should be avoided because calves would consume excessive amounts that could compromise both starter intake and growth.” ■ IRTA has an R&D arrangement with the Spanish Rancho Las Nieves, Mallén, which contract rears 8000 heifers annually.

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**DF Dec p26 27 Forage _Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:02 Page 1


With larger herds, higher yields and all-year housing, does yield from home-grown forage still have a place with these systems? Promar consultant Jack White considers whether yield from forage is still a pertinent benchmark for all dairying systems.

Is milk from forage still right yardstick to use? ield from forage has been a key measure in UK dairy farming for more than 30 years, but does it apply across systems? Analysis of Promar Milkminder data shows that yield from forage is correlated with higher margins in all systems. Take a look at the Milkminder costed herds data shown in Table 1. We have analysed the herds in three ways to reflect system type – by yield from forage, by milk yield and by herd size. For each category we have looked at both the average performance and the performance of the top 25% of herds ranked on margin over purchased feed per cow, and have used standard milk and feed prices to eliminate variation. For each system type the top 25% of herds ranked by margin over purchased feed are producing more litres per cow per year from forage than the average herd. In other words, which ever system you run it will make sense to maximise the con-

means feeding plenty of good quality forage. While you can increase the energy density of the diet with more concentrates, you can potentially risk disrupting rumen health and unravelling performance, particularly as concentrates displace forage from the diet. As average dry matter intakes have increased it has been possible to feed better quality forages, and also mixed forages to maintain the contribution from forage in both high yielding and 365 day housed systems.




A healthy rumen is essential for high performance and this means feeding plenty of high quality forage.

tribution from forage. In all cases the extra milk from forage has contributed to a higher margin per cow and, in the cases of herds ranked on yield and on herd size, more milk from forage drove a higher margin per litre. The exception is the top 25% of herds ranked on yield from forage who are producing the most milk from forage per cow but are feeding slightly more concentrate to support total yield, resulting in a higher margin per cow but slightly


lower margin per litre. There are good reasons why yield from forage drives margin and profit across all system types. The first reason is that cows are ruminants, not pigs. They physically need to consume fibre in the form of forage. They require a minimum amount per day and are capable of consuming large quantities, provided it is of good quality. A healthy rumen is absolutely essential for high performing dairy cows and this

Cheaper The second reason is that irrespective of system, milk produced from forage is cheaper than milk produced from concentrates as seen in Table 2, so higher margins will be underpinned by effective utilisation of forage. Interestingly, looking at the analysis by yield per cow, the top 25% are producing more milk at a lower feed rate per litre, clearly illustrating that yield from forage has a huge role to play in these systems. The final reason is that maximising the contribution

**DF Dec p26 27 Forage _Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:02 Page 2

FORAGE Table 1: Comparison of contribution from forage for different parameters Yield/cow Yield from % yield Feed rate MOPF MOPF (litres) forage (l) from forage (kg/l) (£/cow) (ppl) Ranked by herd size Average 8011 1400 19 0.36 £1,610 20.10 Top 25% 9084 1714 17 0.35 £1,851 20.38 Ranked by yield per cow Average 8963 1904 21 0.36 £1,802 20.10 Top 25% 9317 2535 27 0.33 £1,950 20.93 Ranked by yield from forage per cow Average 7314 3570 49 0.25 £1,691 23.13 Top 25 8351 3847 46 0.26 £1,908 22.85 Calculated with actual milk and feed performance but standard milk price of 30ppl and feed price of £275/tonne.

from forage can be a useful risk management tool, helping protect businesses from volatility in feed and milk prices. The analysis clearly shows that maximising the contribution from forage should be seen as the foundation of herd management irrespective of system. In simple terms this comes down to putting the highest quantity of quality forage in front of the cows, however fed, and to maximise the utilisation of that forage. And the question is how to best assess this in your system. In traditional grazing systems, measuring litres from grazing per cow per day is a relevant and timely measure of performance, and allows you to improve the effectiveness of grazing management to lift utilisation and reduce waste. However, as the analysis of the herds ranked by yield from forage confirms, it is not necessarily about maximising the percent of yield from forage, but maximising the contribution from forage. This is particularly true for high yielding herds

Table 2: Comparative feed costs (source DairyCo Grass+) Cost/t utilised MJ/kgDM Litres produced dry matter (£/t) /kgDM Grazed grass 100 12.0 2.18 Grass silage (three cut system) 124 10.7 1.94 Maize silage 116 11.4 2.07 Dairy compound 274 13.5 2.45 where it is vital to get the balance between purchased feeds and forages right to avoid over-feeding and disrupting rumen health. This means setting targets.

quantity, it should be possible to produce 3500-4000 litres per cow from forage ir-

Cost/litre produced (P) 4.6 6.4 5.6 11.2

respective of system, and doing so could provide a timely boost to margins.

Housed herds Measuring yield from forage per cow per day is also a valuable assessment of forage based diets. However, in 365-day housed herds where the focus is on supplying a consistent quality diet, the key parameters may well be producing enough forage of sufficient quality to ensure high intakes as the foundation of the overall diet. In these cases the parameters to ensure maximum contribution from forage will be forage DM intake per day. In general terms, where forage is managed well to ensure optimum quality and




**DF Dec p28 29 Nutrition Allen_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:04 Page 1

NUTRITION This year’s analyses of fermented wholecrop and maize silages are promising but attention must be paid to rumen health, says John Allen, technical director at Frank Wright Trouw.

Care needed to balance this year’s forage crops ows are milking better than last year and, coupled with higher milk prices, there is a real opportunity for dairy farmers to boost production and margins. “Grass silages are better than last year (Table 1) and many farmers are already seeing the benefits of the superior forage. Dry matter, ME and intake characteristics are all higher than 2012 meaning farmers should be targeting more milk from forage, especially as NDF and lignin values are lower than last year which will contribute to better digestibility,” says Dr Allen. “Furthermore, rumen digestion characteristics indicate silages will help drive intakes. On the down side, glucogenic energy supply is


Sample maize silages regularly and take account of degradability.

lower which can limit milk production, and for farmers feeding solely grass silage, diets may benefit from extra rumen-friendly starch. The initial results for wholecrop and maize silages are of particular interest to farmers feeding mixed forage diets.” Season However, Dr Allen says overall fermented wholecrop is slightly poorer than 2012 as a consequence of the

slow and difficult start to the season. Dry matter is down by 3.5% on average, starch is down by 4.5%, and ME is 0.2MJ/kgDM less. “The lower dry matter and starch content means that wholecrops will provide less rumen fermentable carbohydrate than last year and will reduce the supply of glucogenic energy. Farmers looking to base diets on grass and wholecrop may need to consider adding an

Table 1: Average forage analyses 2012/13 and 2013/14 Grass Fermented wholecrop 2012 2013 2012 2013 Dry matter (%) 31.3 33.7 43.6 40.1 D value (%) 35.7 66.6 66.5 65.2 ME (MJ/kgDM) 10.5 10.7 10.4 10.2 Crude protein (%) 13.2 13.7 9.2 9.5 Starch (%) 23.7 19.2 Starch degradability (%) 67.9 65.1 NDF (%) 47.8 46.8 44.5 49.4 Source: FWTNI




additional starch source such as wheat to ensure an adequate supply of rumen energy,” he says. “The results of the first 600 maize silages analysed, however, point to an excellent crop. Dr Allen says samples have been received earlier this year due to better harvest conditions and the use of early maturing varieties. Dry matter is higher at 30.8% and ME is 11.4MJ/kgDM compared to 11.2 last year. The most significant change is in starch which has increased from 27.6% to 34.5%, while NDF reduced from 50.7% to 45.1%.” Dr Allen says maize crops will provide a highly concentrated form of starch and the introduction of maize should give production a welcome boost. However, it may prove difficult to balance from a rumen health

2012 29.5 70.8 11.2 8.5 27.6 50.7


2013 30.8 72.2 11.4 7.6 34.5 45.1

**DF Dec p28 29 Nutrition Allen_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:05 Page 2


analysis can change significantly as you move through the clamp and this might mean diets can be fine-tuned to reduce costs, improve performance and protect rumen health. “With forage typically supplying 50% of dry matter intakes, the quality

and quantity of silages made this year could contribute to an improvement in profitability. However, careful rationing and balancing will be required to turn this potential into higher production and reduced purchase feed use,” Dr Allen says.


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Samples “Table 2 compares two actual samples analysed in our laboratory this season. Sample A has a lower starch level than sample B, which may be taken to imply that sample A is a poorer forage. However, starch degradability is lower in sample B which means more starch will by-pass the rumen. The consequence is although sample B contains nearly 10% more starch, the proportion available to the rumen is actually lower, making sample A the better source of rumen available starch and rumen energy.” Average rumen available starch content of this year’s maize is 20% higher than last year. The good news is this will stimulate rumen activity and digestion, boosting DMI and milk yield. “On the downside, there will be a greater risk of acidosis so it is vital to monitor performance, especially as starch degradability increases with time in the clamp and silage fed in the second half of winter will be chemically different to the silage fed now. “Sample maize silage clamps regularly and revise rations based on the latest information to take account of the changing starch degradability. Grass silages should also be sampled regularly as recent research shows

Table 2: Effect of starch content and degradability on rumen available starch Starch Starch Rumen available content (%) degradability (%) starch (g/kgDM) Sample A 30.1 78.8 237 Sample B 39.7 58.5 232


perspective and he advises farmers to pay close attention to starch degradability. “It is important to consider both starch content and degradability as they affect rumen available starch, which, in turn, affects rumen energy supply and the risk of acidosis. A high starch content does not necessarily mean high rumen starch. If the starch degradability figure is low, less of the starch present will be available in the rumen. We are seeing a range in both starch contents and degradabilities.”

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**DF Dec p30 31 Oliver Heifers_Layout 1 21/11/2013 13:24 Page 1


TechTalk by Volac If you don’t record it, you can’t manage it In my previous column I talked about benchmarking yourself against industry standards and/or neighbours to gauge just how well your herd was performing. I was specifically talking about milk hygiene and mastitis control measures. Knowing your rolling bulk tank somatic cell counts, bacto-scan levels and your annual mastitis rate provides you with a strong interpretation of either progress or decline in milk hygiene quality. However what is really clear is that it must be borne from accurate records to have any worthwhile meaning. ‘If you don’t record it, you can’t manage it!’ That is a simple fact, poor records equals weak solutions. The interpretation of these numbers is where accuracy helps, for example a mastitis rate of 45% may be close to the national average, but just when do the bulk of these cases occur? Are they evenly spread across the year, are they seasonal or is there a high incidence of early lactation incidents? How many repeaters are there included in this figure? Only accurate recording and the use of suitable programmes to interpret these recorded incidents will allow you the opportunity to devise a strategy to improve milk hygiene and cow longevity. When recording individual cow SCC’s, it is easy to note the highly infectious cows, but how often do you study these numbers, how quickly do you react to a high SCC at milk recording? Do you wait to see where she is next month or act straight away? A clear message from recording programmes such as Interherd+ is that cows showing elevated SCC’s month on month have a very low self-curing rate. So if she has a high reading at two consecutive milk recordings it is unlikely she will be low at the third milk recording, thereafter it is unlikely she will ever offer a low reading. Highly infectious cows tend to remain highly infectious. This should prompt a more proactive approach to treatment of sub-clinical mastitis; the sooner the better would be good message to take on board, especially when looking at early lactation cows. They rarely cure themselves! The take away thought is the huge improvements in farm herd health recording tools is now such that they offer you a serious opportunity to tackle udder hygiene problems, gleened from actual on-farm facts. So ‘If you record it, you CAN manage it’

Neil Birkett can be contacted at Volac on 01642 718814, email




There is still plenty of scope to grow youngstock better, and in the second of two articles, Oliver Tilling, veterinary surgeon with Shepton Vets, Shepton Mallet, gives us some pointers.

US approach to growing heifers liver Tilling has just returned from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual conference in Milwaukee, a trip funded by his practice and by Zoetis Animal Health, and is convinced many producers have a lot to gain from looking at US systems. In the first article he focused on getting the calf to weaning, while in this one he talks about how to take the heifer from weaning into the herd. “Now we have the successfully weaned calf, we tend to move into ‘forgotten’ territory,” he says. “Too many farmers think the job is done, and sit back on their laurels for the next 12 months and leave the animal to its own devices.” He re-emphasises the tendency to force weaning can mean the calf is not getting enough food. This period in its life is a ‘bottleneck’ for respiratory disease. “We must concentrate on getting the best quality food into the calf at this time, and we must monitor growth rates. In a perfect world, every farmer would have weighing scales – the larger units in the US all consider this a standard piece of equipment today – with


There’s still plenty of scope to grow youngstock better Oliver Tilling

the calves being weighed at birth, weaning, six months, 12 months, 15 months and at calving, and of course it’s all recorded.” For those without scales, he is adamant there is a good correlation between height and weight which can be used on any farm. He likens the process to that of measuring a child’s height by marking the door frame. Weigh bands “Don’t use weigh bands. They are very critical of them in the States, saying they are inaccurate. They can be put in the wrong place or pulled too tight, and give the wrong answers, but I do have to admit that any means of measurement is better than none.” He suggests making marks on the side of a wall the heifers walk past, or on the side of the crush, using tape, or even putting in place a plastic curtain so when the strands hit the heifers back, you know she is ready to serve.

**DF Dec p30 31 Oliver Heifers_Layout 1 21/11/2013 13:25 Page 2

HEIFER MANAGEMENT For a Holstein-Friesian he says her weight at 13 months should be between 375kg and 385kg, with a height of 129cm. That is about 55% to 60% of her mature body weight. “As soon as the animal reaches the right weight and height, get her served,” he says. “The average here is probably calving at between 26 and 27 months. In the US, just about everyone is hitting the 24 month target. Remember that it is these early calvers which give the most milk and last the longest. “There are more and more producers getting it right here, but there’s still plenty of scope to grow youngstock better.” Feeding systems He is quick to point out US feeding systems are different, and many fillers which are used there are not available here. But says he is surprised by how many farmers don’t know the protein or energy levels – or content – of heifer feeds. “I would encourage farmers to treat feeding the heifer with the same importance as feeding the lactating dairy cow,” he declares. “She is every bit as important, she is your future. Protein levels must be 18%, and look out for what filler is used – cotton seed hulls are a good example used in US feeds. They are a great filler but no good whatsoever in a calf or heifer ration.

Aim for gains of between 0.75–0.9kg/day to reach the 13-month target.

“I plan to contact feed suppliers in the future, on behalf of my clients, and find out more about what is in these feeds. I think this is a ‘knowledge void’ at the moment. “Most rations are fed ad lib at this time, but we must focus on getting a gain of between 0.75 and 0.9kg a day to hit our target at 13 months. Don’t always give the worst silage to these animals, or the poorest straw, as they deserve better.” Watching weaning weight was covered in the first article, but Mr Tilling is keen to remind producers whatever the calf birth weight was, it must be double at weaning. So a 40kg calf at birth must weigh 80kg at weaning, and a 45kg calf must weigh 90kg, and so on. When the height and weight goals are met throughout this 24month period, the heifer will be between 590 and 660kg prior to calving, and this will give her the best chance to join the herd in good body condition. Just as important as getting the animal to the right size is the development of

an appropriate reproduction programme for first service. “Ideally you want all the heifers to join the herd in a group, so it’s really important to have a protocol in place. Know you are going to serve the heifers between point X and point Y. This will improve your pregnancy rates, reduce reproductive culls and establish a limited time for breeding.” Service He says farmers need to be focused on getting the heifer in-calf, and in-calf quick. “I would be against natural service at this time, although I know it’s favourite here. It can mean the breeding period is very prolonged. Now is the time for a synchronised programme that is targeted to get them all cycling at the same time, and served by AI at the same time. “It makes it much easier to detect animals not in calf, and to re-focus on these. I don’t know whether there’s a statistic for this, but for a cow there’s a cost of £5 a day for every day she’s empty over 85 days postcalving. You wouldn’t be

too far away from that with a heifer.” He admits whole-herd synchronisation programmes are not cheap, and there is wider access to drugs in the US, but says farmers must consider the value of getting the bulk of calving done in a short period and getting them into the herd. “Why do we still put a heifer to the bull,” he asks. “I would question why we want to breed from that particular animal if we can’t get her in calf quickly. I know this is a controversial subject, and it’s hard to convince farmers to cull these animals out, but in the US they are quite ruthless for good reason.” In the US they won’t give a heifer more than six cycles of breeding opportunity – here in the UK we give between seven and nine and then put them to the bull. Mr Tilling recommends good oestrus detection accuracy, a good AI technician, using good bull semen, and a vet on a regular basis to PD animals – don’t wait, check every fortnight, and inject with prostaglandin to help the process when the heifer is empty. “My take home message is to be more aggressive in our approach to getting the heifer in calf,” he says. “Don’t waste the investment you have already made – be more proactive throughout the whole process.”




**DF Dec p32 34 Milking Machines Pullin_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:18 Page 1

MILKING MACHINES The cost of running a parlour for 180 milking cows was considered untenable on Wood Green Farm in Buckinghamshire. Ann Hardy found out why a state-of-the-art, five-box robot – the first of its kind in the UK – was considered the best alternative.

World’s longest milking machine makes UK debut here’s an irony in Clive Pullin’s choice of milking equipment for Wood Green Farm in Stowe, on the borders of Bucks and Northants. For in selecting one of the world’s most cutting edge milking robots and the first of its scale to be installed in the UK, he cites the most old-fashioned of reasons for making his choice. “If we have to milk the cows by hand, we can,” he says, explaining that the massive five-box GEA MIOne which was installed on his farm in November lends itself to manual cluster attachment. “Of course, GEA says this isn’t necessary except for


Clive Pullin: herd expansion.



Installation of the cutting edge five-box GEA MIOne taking place in November on Wood Green Farm in Stowe.

during servicing,” he says. “But if the robot goes wrong and you have 270 cows waiting to be milked, what are you going to do? “With most of the other robots I looked at you had to stand on your head to get them to work manually.” In fact, so careful is Mr Pullin to ensure he and his team will be able to perform this operation with ease should the need arise, he has built a milking pit alongside the five boxes. And therein lies a second irony. For it is Mr Pullin’s aversion to milking in a pit – particularly on behalf of his long-serving team of


staff – which has fuelled his decision to replace a perfectly adequate 16:32 swingover parlour which is just nine years old.

Staff loyalty “We’re a traditional family farm and most of the staff have been here from seven to 47 years, and the pit is no place for men in their 50s to work for up to 12 hours a day,” he says. “Milking is a young man’s game, but we have no intention of replacing our staff with a younger team, and in any event, we find that the younger generation does not want the commitment.” However, he has no

hesitation in investing in machinery, and says this is just part and parcel of running a large farm. “I bought a tractor for £98,000 last week,” he says. “And every few years I spend £250,000 on a new combine. “I would only keep these on the farm for about five or six years, but I would expect the robot to last for at least 20 years.” Precisely how much he has invested in the five-box system he is not prepared to divulge, and GEA also will not be drawn on a list price. “Yes, the robot is expensive but not ‘silly expensive’,” he says. “To be

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**DF Dec p32 34 Milking Machines Pullin_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:21 Page 2

MILKING MACHINES honest, most of the cost to me is in the infrastructure.” He describes how the robot forms part of a total investment in excess of £1 million, including a brand new 120ft x 120ft shed with six silage pits; new slurry lagoons; and adaptations to the existing layout. “If the cows are due to be milked, the guided system will divert them into the waiting area and then they

are free to enter a box, before they go to the feed fence,” he says. Describing the system – said by GEA to be the longest milking machine in the world – as ‘like a train with lots of doors’, he says: “The single robot shoots up and down and puts its arm into each of the boxes to attach the clusters.” Citing this as a further attraction to this particular

Mr Pullin expects the GEA milking robot to last at least 20 years.

The first five unit robot with each box capable of handling 55 cows.

unit, he says others he considered had one arm on every box, making many five-box systems more expensive than his. Five boxes he says will also allow him to increase his herd size, which currently stands at 180, and will go up to about 270 milking at any one time (about 340 head total) in the year-round calving herd. “GEA recommends 55 cows/box so this will be the most we have for the time being, and five boxes is also the maximum one robot arm can serve,” he says. Confidently expecting yield increases of 15-20%, he says: “This isn’t just because of more frequent milkings, but because cows won’t be standing around in the collecting yard for several hours a day.” Right machine Asked whether his family have always been earlyadopters or whether they are worried about having the first such unit in the UK, he says: “To be honest, I didn’t realise we were the first when we placed the order – it just looked right for us. “It currently costs £70,000-

Farm Facts

rFamily farm with next generation keen to continue dairying r2500 acres farmed, of which 1600 acres are owned rCropping comprises grass, maize and combinable crops r180 cows milked, rising to 270; 1.8m litres currently sold rYield increases of 15-20% expected with installation of five-box robot. 80,000 per year for staff to milk 180 cows, and we knew we would have to give up next spring or do something dramatic. “This will allow us to both expand the herd and release the time for the staff to do other more important jobs – like foot trimming, service and heat detection. “Our family has never been scared to take a gamble and invest, so we have spent all our spare cash and borrowed some more to make sure dairying continues to be part of this farm. We have three sons who are very keen to continue farming and this investment ensures they will have more than just an arable operation,” he says.

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**DF Dec p 36 37 Milking Machines Halton_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:13 Page 1


A new rapid-exit parlour has not only improved milking efficiency in Cheshire farmer Tom Halton’s 200-cow herd, but it has had a significant impact on the way the farm is managed. Jeremy Hunt reports.

Rapid exit parlour leads to a rethink on routine he installation of a rapid exit parlour has made such a difference to the job of milking on this Cheshire farm that the decision has been made to turn to three-times-a-day milking. Tom Halton, of Chance Hall Farm, Astbury, near Congleton, says: “We were spending three-and-a-half hours at each end of the day which was ridiculous for the man and the cows. But the rapid-exit system has made a massive difference. We’re now milking 120 cows an hour and it’s a joy to do it. “But the new parlour has also had a big influence on the way we run the farm as a whole. It has encouraged us to start milking threetimes-a-day without it seeming like a burden on time and labour.” The new Dairymaster Swiftflo Plus rapid exit parlour was installed following a re-jig of the Halton family’s business which originally involved three separate herds of 200 cows each. Some consideration




Rapid exit – the troughs move slightly outwards first before being raised to release the cows.

was given to amalgamation of cow numbers and installing a rotary parlour, but the final decision led to one of the herds being sold and the installation of the rapidexit system. “We looked at the Dairymaster system and were impressed by what we saw – not only the speed of milking but the effect it had on the cows and the benefits to the operator.”

Stress-free “The system we saw working involved one man milking 120 cows an hour. It was a stress-free system for him and the cows – and there


was a feeding system which appealed to us because some rapid exit systems don’t give you that option. “We wanted to continue to feed cows in the parlour but we didn’t want it to slow up the cows coming in and going out. The cows we saw were drifting in easily and standing so quietly it really made an impact on us,” says Mr Halton. With an existing building in the right position on the farm and with ample space for a new collecting yard, the decision was taken to install the rapid-exit system costing £125,000. “Looking back I don’t

know how we did what we did. It now takes so little time to milk and is such a pleasure to do. We have casual staff queuing up to milk these cows. It has revolutionised everything. “It is not just the speed of milking, it is the environment for the operator. And cows do not have to spend long in the collecting yard. We empty one cubicle building and the other cows just drift out by themselves. The cows really want to be milked.” One feature of the system has been particularly useful to the set-up, which relies on relief staff for milking.

**DF Dec p 36 37 Milking Machines Halton_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:14 Page 2

This system made me realise how important it is to the whole farm business to have an efficient parlour


“ Tom Halton: 120 cows per hour.

“There’s a voice activation system which works with the auto ID so it counts the cows in and gives the operator information regarding antibiotic treatment, any colostrums and three-quartered cows – and which quarter. And then when the arm swings over the information is given again. “When you’ve got several staff milking it makes a big difference,” says Mr Halton. It only took six weeks of milking through the rapid exit to make Mr Halton consider switching to threetimes-a-day milking. Cows are now milked at 5am, 1.30pm and at 8.30pm. “Labour-wise it is not

costing us any more because we are milking cows quicker and more efficiently – and we’re easily getting a 10% lift in yield,” he says. Herd average is now heading towards 8000 litres. The system is also fitted with ACRs, electronic milk metres, auto ID, clustercleanse backflush and three-way drafting gates. Rationing Rationing is based on a TMR diet supplemented with cake in the parlour. A move to autumn blockcalving is underway and the herd is introducing red and white genetics – Montbeliarde, Norwegian

The 20 a-side parlour with auto ID and clustercleanse backflush.

and Swedish Red. “The aim is to make life a bit easier, get cows to last longer and for the cows to look after us as much as we have to look after them.” Mr Halton says he sees his job as ‘harvesting milk’. “This system has made me realise how important it is to the whole farm business to have an efficient parlour. Milking the cows is the most important job on the farm – it is where dairy farmers make their money. Big investments are made in farm machinery but all too often

the parlour isn’t prioritised. “We have a few gadgets on this system but they are easy to operate and help us to harvest milk from these cows as quickly and as efficiently as we can. “Cows are in each stall for about 15 minutes. We put rubber matting down in the parlour to give cows more grip as we were concerned about them having to turn 90-degrees. It helped during the first two weeks but since then it has not been an issue. Cows are so much calmer at milking time,” he says.




**DF Dec p38 39 Baines_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:42 Page 1


In-line meters which monitor milk composition can be used to give an indication of cow health, particularly over that early lactation risk period of negative energy balance, as John Baines explains.

In-line analysis gives warning on cow health dvances in in-line milk analysers are making it easier to detect key metabolic disorders such as ketosis, acidosis, mastitis and negative energy balance. These are crucial indicators of cow well-being and armed with such information it is possible to reduce the impact such conditions can have on yield, fertility and general cow health. Speaking at this year’s British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) Congress in Harrogate, Fullwood’s technical director John Baines outlined the benefits of using Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy to analyse milk components during every milking. “Historically, milk quality and cow health data has only been available through monthly milk recording,” claims Mr Baines. “The prime purpose of such tests has predominantly been to quantify the compositional make-up of milk for payment or breed-




John Baines of Fullwood believes in-line milk analysers are a powerful tool in helpng maintain cow health and reducing production costs.

ing purposes. While this process can provide a very high definition view of milk quality and cow health on one specific day, it is not really a practical or cost-effective method for assessing the day-to-day management needs of individual cows.”

Measurements In contrast, access to realtime, live measurements of milk components such as butterfat, protein, lactose and blood, can significantly improve the effective management of the herd and can help herd managers to make informed decisions in


order to maintain or improve herd health. Mr Baines believes the advent and adoption of automated milking systems has enhanced the demand for a new generation of inline milk analysers, and that these technologies now provide an irreplaceable tool for managing the dayto-day metabolic status of high yielding cows. “It is generally recognised that the energy demands of a high yielding dairy cow in early and midlactation exceed her intake, resulting in negative energy balance and weight loss,” Mr Baines explains. “In

turn, the cow’s overall metabolic performance can be put at risk with consequential effects on yield, health and ability to conceive, as well as an increased risk of displaced abomasum.” Traditionally, the only indicators of metabolic disorders available were the daily measure of milk yield and visual observation of the cow. In more recent times, it has been possible to provide diagnosis of conditions such as ketosis through blood testing, but these tests are expensive and are not practical for use on a cow-by-cow or day-today basis. “Certain metabolic conditions, such as Sub-Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA), can be traced with the use of rumen boluses equipped with a pH sensor, but these devices are expensive, have a short battery life and measurements can be heavily influenced by the intake of large amounts of water,” says Mr Baines. “The implications of inaccurate readings, or having to rely on visual symptoms

**DF Dec p38 39 Baines_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:43 Page 2

MILKING MACHINES – which may only manifest themselves long after the cow has already started to experience poor health and reduced productivity – can be significant, especially in larger herds,” he says. “For instance, it is predicted up to 40% of cows may have sub-clinical ketosis and that SARA can affect 11-19% of cows in early lactation and 18-26% of cows in mid-lactation. At a cost of £50-£100 per cow for sub-clinical ketosis alone, the financial implications of lost milk production and reduced herd health and fertility soon add up.” Instead of relying on monthly tests or visual

signs of poor cow health, Mr Baines suggests that inline milk analysers can provide quick, reliable and accurate data on which to base herd management decisions. User-friendly “Modern sensors – which are affordable, cost effective and user-friendly – already exist and are proving to be invaluable in a growing number of herds,” he says. “These Near Infra-Red Spectroscopes (NIRS) allow the rapid, simple and simultaneous measurement of various milk components from cows on an individual basis and can provide clear

health and performance data without the need for costly reagents and other consumables.” Sensors such as Fullwood’s CrystaLab measure fat, protein, lactose and blood during every individual cow milking to provide a continuous live-stream view of milk quality seven days a week. “By comparing the ratio of fat to protein, monitoring lactose levels, or by looking for the presence of blood in milk, these sensors can build an accurate picture and provide an early warning of ketosis, SARA and mastitis. “And when used in con-

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The new £2m dairy unit at Newton Rigg is due for completion early next year and comprises two 72m by 36m buildings.

Vets and local milk producers helped with the design of the new Newton Rigg dairy which will offer students the fullest level of training. Jennifer MacKenzie reports.

Newton Rigg goes for new £2m dairy set-up new £2 million dairy unit due for completion early next year confirms the pledge made by York-based Askham Bryan when it took over the running of Newton Rigg College, near Penrith, three years ago, and that was to re-establish a milking herd. The design of the unit on a greenfield site at the college’s Sewborwens Farm has been led by a committee of Cumbrian milk producers, and they were headed up by farm manager Jonathan Fisher and vet David Black, of the Paragon Vet Group, Dalston. The state-of-the-art unit combines best practice and prioritises herd health, wel-




fare and hygiene in two 72m by 36m buildings. One houses a collection yard, parlour, holding pens, cubicles and pennage for calving cows, and the second holds the main portion of the 240 pedigree Holstein herd. “Each cow will have 12sq m of space which is far above the recommendations,” says Newton Rigg head of agriculture Matt Bagley. “We have gone for a high welfare, high input, high output unit which we aim to be free from endemic diseases with the ethos being that if the cows are disease free and comfortable they will more likely reach their genetic potential and milk well,” he adds. “It’s very important for Newton Rigg to re-connect with dairy farming in the


Principal Wes Johnson (left) and head of agriculture Matt Bagley.

North of England and in the Scottish borders,” says college principal Wes Johnson. “The college lost its dairy herd in March 2001 in the foot-and-mouth epidemic, and when the herd was not replaced the college lost a lot of its credibility. We have had fantastic support from the local farming community in what we are achieving – and student numbers for vocational courses are at

a record high this year,” he says. The college already has 100 cows and heifers in milk which are currently being milked through a temporary bail until the new unit is finished. While not all the cattle are yet at Sewborwens, 170 head of cows and heifers have been bought from Anthony Brough’s Tallent herd at Cockermouth and the first calf was born at

**DF Dec p40 42 Newton Rigg _Layout 1 22/11/2013 14:02 Page 2

MILKING MACHINES Sewborwens in October. Other animals have been bought from the Holmland, Ingleden and Bridgedale herds to eventually have 200 cows in milk. They have been selected for their high type merit and high indexing families with some of the pedigrees having up to 12 generations of VG and EX cows. Main contractors for the building work are Cubby Construction of Carlisle with buildings erected by supplier Supercraft from Herefordshire. Milking is through a Fullwood Quick-S rapid exit 30:30 parlour featuring the latest technology with in

parlour feeders and a fully computerised system with auto ID via pedometers. The milking equipment is also fitted with a backflush system. The parlour is being fitted by McCaskies of Carlisle through Fullwood UK sales manager Les Strickland. It will include a mezzanine viewing gallery for students and visitors. The computerised system automatically sheds cows on exit from the parlour for AI or other treatment into three holding pens or a herringbone AI race for 15 cows. An area is also being set aside for foot trimming and there is a large foot bath

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**DF Dec p40 42 Newton Rigg _Layout 1 22/11/2013 14:02 Page 3


The concrete panel walls will be topped by 3m curtains for ventilation.

area to clean hooves before cows enter the collecting yard and a second jet wash foot bath post-milking. This building also houses 36 dry cows in cubicles and calving boxes, and there arestraw yards for freshlycalved cows. The second building has 164 cubicles for the milking cows with an extra wide central feed passage for feeder wagon access. The design allows the number of cubicles to be extended to accommodate 300 cows if needed in future. The cubicles are GEA M2M Kingshay designed cow comfort cubicles with patented adjustable head rails. In what is thought to be

the first cubicles designed specifically for the system, they will be deep filled with the latest ‘green bedding’ from equipment from slurry handling specialist Bauer. All year housing The cattle will be housed all the year round and winter diet is 22kg of first cut silage, 9kg whole crop wheat, 6kg dairy blend, with dairy minerals and bicarbonate of soda for M+24 litres. The cows are topped up in the parlour up to 6kg. A link building will join the two sheds to prevent the need for the cows to go outside to be milked in the second building. The buildings have two metre concrete panel walls

Liquid from the separator will be stored in this 5000cu m lagoon.

which will be topped by three metre curtains for automatic ventilation. As well as the curtains to three sides of the buildings, the roofs incorporate 10ftwide perspex roof light ridges which have baffles to deflect the wind and improve air flow out of the building. Outside, liquid from the separator will be stored in a 5000cu m lagoon which will be gravity fed and give eight months storage for the liquid from the separator. The liquid, which requires a minimum of agitation, will be spread by an umbilical process across all the farm’s land by a contractor. Rainwater will also be collected from the roofs for

washing down the collecting yard, and surplus rainwater will feed a wildlife pond which Eden Rivers Trust has advised on. Recommendations from DairyCo’s Dairy Housing Best Practice Guide have been used in the building design, including lighting which will mimic 18 hours of daylight and six hours of darkness to help optimise milk yields. As part of the development’s green credentials, photo voltaic roof panels will be installed to generate electricity. The decision to house the cattle all the year round is because Sewborwens heavy land makes it prone to poaching in wet weather.

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**DF Dec p44 46 Milk Prices_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:32 Page 1


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AML suppliers receive 0.78ppl JArla Milk Link producers have enjoyed their sixth milk price increase in 2013, with a further 0.78ppl added to the milk cheque from October 28, 2013. This takes its standard litre price up to 33.83ppl. However, we are still adding the 0.3ppl Premier bonus until it is terminated at the end of this year, and this takes our standard litre price to 34.13ppl on both liquid and manufacturing prices respectively, while our Rodda’s price increases to 34.53ppl. With this being the eighth price adjustment (two falls) in 2013, the total price

increase is 5ppl across all AML contracts, making it the largest total increase paid this year to date by any milk buyer we monitor. Compare this with the total increase this year by Dairy Crest where Davidstow currently comes second on 4.29ppl. *Standard litre – 4% b/f and 3.3% prot, Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC but before seasonality, monthly profile payments, balancing, capital retentions or annual incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement.

First Milk progress

JHaving announced a long term strategic cheese partnership with Adams Foods, First Milk continues to progress its milk price and will see out 2013 with another lift for both liquid and manufacturing milk pools, increasing by 0.65ppl and 0.5ppl respectively.

The increases are put down to improved profits from its core business as well as taking advantage of current attractive returns from butter/powder. The increases (six in total from Apr’13) takes our standard price up to 32.5ppl for both liquid and cheese.

**DF Dec p44 46 Milk Prices_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:32 Page 2

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

News in brief... Fresh Milk 1.01ppl increase

JThe Fresh Milk Company is to increase its milk price by 1.01ppl from Dec’13. This being the company’s second largest increase to date in 2013 (1.39ppl in July) takes our price up to 33.27ppl for our producer in the Milk Supply Association (MSA). The price, including profile, also increases to 33.81ppl (based on our rolling 12month average profile payment of 0.54ppl, using the RPA monthly production figures for the 12mths to Sept’13). This increase puts the company’s total milk price lift for 2013 for our MSA supplier at 3.63ppl and also means it resides in the top three milk for cheese prices of those milk buyers we monitor on a regular basis.

Wensleydale up

JWensleydale Creamery increased by 0.55ppl to 32.60ppl from Nov’13. At the same time the company has switched more emphasis to constituents by reducing the flat rate monthly adjustment from 2.05ppl to 0.6ppl.

Crediton supplies

JCrediton Dairy, the MBO of Milk Link’s Long Life milk dairy business, started collecting milk from its first direct supplier in November, with its transparent and obtainable pricing schedule said to be generating a lot of interest with other producers. The schedule is claimed to be fair to producers with the likes of its graduated hygiene and SCC penalties, and the new company is being no slouch when it comes to offering a competitive milk price, adding another 1ppl from December 1. This takes our price for them to a competitive 34.36ppl.



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JWeaker cream prices and lower production costs have taken our DC/DCD liquid formula price down by 0.25ppl from Dec’13. Adding the previous month’s 0.14ppl cut, it means the price finishes 2013 on 31.68ppl based on the Apr’13 formula launch 12-month rolling average profile payment of 1.1ppl. Our current rolling profile to Sept’13 based on RPA figures stands at 1.17ppl, up from 1.1ppl in Aug’13.

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**DF Dec p44 46 Milk Prices_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:32 Page 3

MILK PRICES Latest milk prices from D.C – Waitrose ∞^ D.C – M&S ∞ Cadbury – Selkley Vale Milk MüllerWiseman – Tesco Scotland MüllerWiseman – Tesco England Arla Foods – Tesco •• MüllerWiseman – Sainsbury's Central Scotland MüllerWiseman – Sainsbury's England D.C – Sainsbury's MüllerWiseman – The Co-op Dairy Group Arla Foods – AFMP Sainsbury's •• United Dairy Farmers ≠ Caledonian Cheese Co – Profile ‡ Parkham Farms Yew Tree Dairy MWD – AMPE/MCVE Formula Arla Foods – Standard (Former Non-Aligned) •• Arla Foods – Standard (former Asda) •• Arla Foods – AFMP Standard •• Paynes Farms Dairies D.C – Davidstow ∞ MüllerWiseman – Aberdeen MüllerWiseman – Central Scotland MüllerWiseman – England Blackmore Vale Farm Cream Wensleydale Dairy Products Wyke Farms Meadow Foods Lakes ± Barber A.J & R.G D.C – Liquid Regional Premium ∞ ¶ DC/DCD – Liquid Formula ∞ ¶ Caledonian Cheese Co Grahams Dairies Meadow Foods – Level Meadow Foods – Seasonal South Caernarfon Arla Milk Link Rodda's ¢• (•••) Arla Milk Link – London Liquid (•••) Arla Milk Link – West Country Liquid (•••) Joseph Heler Belton Cheese Glanbia – Llangefni (flat) Arla Milk Link – Manufacturing ¢• (•••) Glanbia – Llangefni (Constituent) First Milk – Liquid § First Milk – Highlands & Islands § First Milk – Cheese § Average

Aug'13 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty (i)

Sept'13 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty (ii)

Sept'13 4.0/3.3 1mltr SAPP **(iii)

12mth Ave Oct'12 Sept'13 (iv)

Diff Sept'13 v Aug'13 (i) v (ii)

35.22 34.67 33.85 32.77 32.77 32.52 32.18 32.18 32.07 32.15 32.06 34.42 32.21 32.23 31.75 32.27 31.63 31.63 31.63 31.45 32.14 31.50 31.50 31.50 31.25 31.30 31.25 31.33 31.09 31.39 31.79 31.71 31.50 31.25 31.25 31.38 32.25 31.84 31.84 30.99 31.05 31.40 31.85 31.29 30.65 30.46 30.00 31.88

35.47 34.74 33.85 32.77 32.77 32.52 32.18 32.18 32.14 32.15 32.06 34.17 32.32 32.23 31.75 32.27 31.63 31.63 31.63 31.45 32.21 31.50 31.50 31.50 31.25 32.05 31.25 31.38 31.09 31.46 32.00 31.78 31.50 31.25 31.25 32.00 33.01 32.61 32.61 30.99 31.05 31.40 32.61 31.29 30.85 31.00 31.00 32.03

36.64 36.24 33.85 34.77 34.77 32.53 34.18 34.18 33.72 34.15 32.06 34.17 32.28 34.23 31.75 34.27 31.94 31.94 31.94 31.45 33.79 33.50 33.50 33.50 32.25 32.05 32.25 31.25 31.09 33.29 33.58 31.78 33.50 31.25 32.25 32.00 33.63 32.61 32.61 32.99 31.05 31.85 33.22 31.74 30.53 30.63 30.68 32.84

33.54 33.10 32.25 32.19 32.19 31.75 31.64 31.64 31.58 31.37 31.33 31.12 30.70 30.67 30.58 30.52 30.49 30.49 30.48 30.48 30.39 30.33 30.33 30.33 30.30 30.28 30.24 30.23 30.18 30.17 30.17 30.14 30.12 30.10 30.10 29.67 29.59 29.50 29.50 29.49 29.38 29.23 29.20 29.13 28.84 28.50 28.12 30.46

0.25 0.07 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C 0.07 N/C N/C -0.25 0.11 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C 0.07 N/C N/C N/C N/C 0.75 N/C 0.05 N/C 0.07 0.21 0.07 N/C N/C N/C 0.62 0.77 0.77 0.77 N/C N/C N/C 0.77 N/C 0.20 0.54 1.00

Notes to table Prices paid for 1mltr producer supplying milk of average constituents 4% butterfat and 3.3% protein, SCCs of 200,000/ml and Bactoscans of 30,000/ml on EODC excluding capital retentions or AHDB levies, or annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement. SAPP = Seasonally Adjusted Profile Price. (i) Aug’13 prices before seasonality. (ii) Sept’13 prices before seasonality. (iii) Seasonally adjusted profile price for Sept13 taking into account monthly seasonality payments and profiles of supply. ** Seasonal adjusted profile supply for 1mltr/yr supplier (using monthly RPA figures) for Sept’13 = 2,762ltrs/day, flat supply = 2,740ltrs/day. (iv) Table ranked on the seasonally adjusted price for the 12mths to Sept’13. § SAPP reflects 12mth profile adjustment of -0.42ppl. ¢ SAPP reflects 2,580ltrs (Aug to Dec’12 daily average) paid as ‘A’ ltrs with the remaining ‘B’ ltrs paid @ 130% of the ‘A’ price (ie constituents plus Market Related Adjustment) for Sept’13. • 182 'B' litres/day applicable for Sept’13 with daily volume of 2,762ltrs/day being 182 ltrs/day above the 'A' volume of 2,580ltrs. 0.5ppl production bonus for Arla Milk Link and First Milk paid on all litres applicable for Sept’13 SAPP within daily production above the same month last year based on RPA monthly production figures. •• 5ppl Production Bonus paid on all litres supplied above Sept'12 = 0.31ppl when spread across all litres supplied. ∞ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 1.17ppl to Sept’13 (0.07ppl up on previous month). ∞^ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.53ppl to Sept’13 (0.05ppl up on previous month). ± Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.63ppl to Sept’13 (0.05ppl up on previous month). ≠ Seasonality built into monthly base price. Arla Foods - AFMP Asda and Nonaligned prices merged into Arla Foods AFMP Standard from Oct'12. (•••) Price includes the effect of missing the first day of Sept’13 with 0.77ppl increase from 2nd Sept'13 while including the last day of Sept’13 with 0.74ppl increase from 30th Sept'13. ¶ Price includes Regional & Support Premiums. ‡ Non-seasonal price includes 12mth average rolling profile of 0.54ppl to Sept’13 (0.04ppl up on previous month). DC & MWD Formula prices assume 100% of a producer’s supply. Tesco milk prices include the 0.5ppl bonus for co-operation with Promar costings. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:




**DF_12_P47_DF_12_P47 22/11/2013 11:32 Page 2

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**DF Dec p48 49 New Products_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:39 Page 1


NEW products

This month, we take a look at two new machinery releases, a new maize variety and an eco-bedder.

Improved design for Six Series tractors

Katana 65 is now available

JFendt's Katana 65 forage harvester is now on sale in the UK. The 650hp forage harvester set new standards with its fuel-saving SCR technology, the V-Cracker, which permits fast changes between grass to maize and vice versa, and the novel drive concept offering both ECO/Power modes. Its Visio5 cab is unique and was developed specifically for the forager and includes the Fendt Variotronic operating interface. The latest Katana 65 is now equipped with a shorter discharge chute improving performance when harvesting grass. It



has also added an additional work light for better visibility during night operations. A wide selection of headers gives optimum operation in grass, maize or whole crop silage with the production of high quality chopped material. In addition, there is the KEMPER 460 plus option to handle very tall maize. New software features on the 10.4-inch Varioterminal in the Visio5 cab simplify operation and allow operators to select the GPS header, pick-up, or ten-row maize header from the terminal as standard. Details at


JJohn Deereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new 6100MC and 6110RC tractors feature greater compactness and , manoeuvrability. Designed specifically for medium-sized livestock and mixed farms, the 6MC and 6RC Series tractors from 90 to 110hp are powered by Stage 3b-compliant 4.5-litre four-cylinder PowerTech PWX diesel-only engines. The 6RC engines are also equipped with Intelligent Power Management (IPM), producing an additional 10hp when needed. The 6090MC, 6100MC and 6110MC tractors are equipped with PowrQuad Plus transmissions, while the premium 6090RC,

6100RC and 6110RC models offer three powershift transmission choices. These include PowrQuad Plus, AutoQuad Plus and the new AutoQuad Plus EcoShift, which automatically reduces engine rpm at high speeds to help reduce fuel consumption. The tractorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; durable full frame is specifically designed to accept John Deere H Series front loaders, which are available in non self-levelling, mechanical self-levelling and hydraulic self-levelling versions. Details available at

**DF Dec p48 49 New Products_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:39 Page 2


New forage maize variety Eco-bedding from manure

JNew early variety Arcade forage maize is now available exclusively from Barenbrug. First choice on both favourable and less favourable sites on the 2014 NIAB Maize Descriptive List, Barenburg claims it is: ■ Very early maturing ■ 35% dry matter at harvest ■ Dry matter yield 17.2t/ha ■ Excellent starch yield ■ Great early vigour (7.5) ■ Maturity group 10


■ Good disease resistance ■ Standard dressing of Mesurol and Thiram ■ No lodging. Arcade is sown between mid-April and mid-May for an autumn harvest and is available in bags of 50,000 seeds. Details on 01359 272 000, or

JSlurry handling specialist Storth Machinery has introduced a second, simpler and lower cost system for converting livestock manure into soft dry bedding material. The Eco-Bedder consists of a separator which removes the liquid fraction of the slurry to produce a material with 37-40% dry matter content, leaving it dry enough to be used as cattle bedding. Animal manures and slurry, as well as sawdust

or straw, can be fed into the system. With a simpler, lower cost version of the existing EYS Bedding Composter which incorporates a heavy duty screw-press separator and a drying and pasteurisation system, it is available in two sizes. The SP600hd is suitable for up to 400 cows and retailing at £24,000+VAT, and the SP800hd is suitable for up to 1000 cows, retailing at £27,500+VAT. Details 01524 781 900, or

New products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send details and pictures to Jennifer MacKenzie at, or call 01768 896 150.



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**DF Dec p50 Donovan_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:44 Page 1


WORKSHOP tips with Mike Donovan

This month Mike Donovan looks at how to make your own mobile cattle crush.

Mobile crush can speed up handling

hese days, cattle with a mobile handling are handled system, and for many years for many there were a good many reasons other about, with prices starting than for TB at about ÂŁ7000. testing, so it is no wonder The other option is to many farmers think get the welder out their summer and make a months consist mobile crush of little more for yourself. r aile nne tr d as o t r u than pushing Many can rA fiso can be useobile s m s a a cattle through get hold of a h c for e base le crush h t the crush. standard cattle catt Keeping pace crush, and our with the job means Somerset contributor having a handling system has used a four-tonne trailer which is easy to use and is chassis, which he extended less stressful on cattle and forwards. The trailer axle handlers alike. was removed and wheels Most would go along from a redundant bale



Having an easy to use handling system is less stressful on cattle.




A mobile crush may be an alternative to updating the static one.

stacker fitted instead. They are on vertical rams which lower the frame to the ground when in use. The set-up carries two 4.8-metre (16-foot) gates and a 3.6m (12ft) one in the crush and raceway to make up a useful-sized holding area â&#x20AC;&#x201C; more would increase the size of this. The cattle go down through the trailer on to a checkerplate floor and into the crush for testing or treatment. The set-up proved useful last summer and means an off-lying animal with a problem, such as a bad eye, can be treated much quicker and with far less disruption.

For many farms the facilities in many yards are still not all they might be. Upgrading with a mobile set-up might be something to consider as an alternative to improving or replacing the static assembly. Whatever happens, the sad fact is that dairy farmers will be pushing their cattle through raceways and crushes for many more years to come!

About Mike

r Mike is a machinery columnist offering tips on building or modifying farm equipment. Sign up for his free newsletter at

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**DF Dec p54 55 Evans_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:45 Page 1


GOOD Evans

Butterfat penalty set to make mockery of price league table

This month Roger Evans tells us of his plan to raise butterfats so he can get a premium for his milk.



e’ve finally got our cow numbers to where we want them, and by using sexed semen have enough heifers in the pipeline to have the self-contained herd we have aspired to. Well we did have until badgers started to take some. We get paid for our milk on a liquid contract per litre. Apart from ticking all the right boxes for hygiene and cell count, the other way we can enhance the value of the litres is by raising the butterfat percentage. One of my last acts before we thought we were self-contained was to buy some really good Jersey bulling heifers. These heifers have been calving these last weeks and already we are seeing our butterfat content creeping up. More litres, more value per litre – it all seems to be common sense to me. That’s why I have been amazed at the lack of reaction to the move by another major milk buyer to introduce a butterfat penalty. They want their milk pool to average 4.2% butterfat. Now we know that any fat that is taken off liquid milk can be made into butter. This is good commercial sense, but I struggle with the way they have chosen to get there. No matter what fat percentage you achieve personally, if the supplying



groups as a whole don’t get to 4.2%, you will be penalised. It’s no good you going out and buying some Jerseys like I did to raise your herd’s butterfat if the group as a whole lags behind. And if you choose to raise your butterfat by changing your cows’ diet, it will still cost you money. So what are the chances of the supplying farmers achieving the 4.2% average? Well I’ve been having a bit of a play with my laptop and if I go back six years the GB average only reached 4.2% butterfat twice. White water Many of the farms in this pool will have geared up their breeding and production to what is often called ‘white water’ output, which is seemingly a thing of the past. No matter how you try to spin this, it is a price reduction. If butterfat levels drop to 3.7% or 3.8% in the spring it won’t be 0.5p that is deducted, it will be a penny. Even at a 0.5p penalty, it is £9m across this milk pool. As a price reduction, which it clearly is, it proves once and for all what a farce milk price league tables are and just how easily they can be manipulated. It makes a mockery of the code of practice. There’s a man on the phone, who says he is coming the next day to inspect my soil protection forms. Easy peasey, as I

**DF Dec p54 55 Evans_Layout 1 20/11/2013 18:46 Page 2


No matter how you try to spin this, it is a price reduction

know they are done and are up to date. “And I’ll be doing and NVZ inspection,” he adds. “Not in an NVZ,” I tell him. “Says here you are,” he replies, so we have to go into one of those pantomime routines. He leaves it that the onus is on me to prove we are not, so I phone my landlord’s agent and she sends me the appropriate email. By the time he turns up he’s found out we’re not in an NVZ anyway. They have tried to get this valley in to an NVZ twice now. Each time we’ve got together as a group and appealed successfully. We’ve found that the nitrogen levels are highest in our little river just after they pass the local sewage works, but as far as I can see, that is ok. Just as an aside, higher up the valley has been in a NVZ for some time, but the NFU worked out the criteria that made us exempt were exactly the same as those that put them in, so they appealed as well and won, and got out. So don’t give up on this. Just when you could be forgiven for thinking you’d won the battle, you’ve not. Natural England want to introduce a

nutrient management plan for the whole catchment, involving phosphate and nitrogen, to encourage the revival of the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel! To be honest, Fresh Water Pearl Mussels have never been a big part of my life. I’m minded of a song, can’t remember which, that goes ‘if the right one doesn’t get you, the left one will’. That’s how it feels – they just keep on coming. Environmental studies A friend of mine has a son at university. In his department there are 16 studying agriculture, 35 rural business studies and 60 doing environmental studies. Sixty! It will be like trying to stop the tide coming in once that lot qualify and they have to create work for them. But back to the form –I passed the soil management bit, except that there was a box where you had to list every field number. “Fill that in and I’ll sign it off,” he says. “Could you do it please?” I reply. “Why can’t you?” he says. “Not very good at reading and writing.” And he filled it in. Works every time!




**DF Dec p56 Finance_Layout 1 22/11/2013 09:44 Page 1


Pensions are not only a useful means of reducing taxable income but can have a wider role as well. Sam Kirkham, of Albert Goodman, gives us some pointers.

Your pension could help cash flow A SIPP enables greater control of your pension fund and offers a wider range of potential investments

very individual is entitled to obtain tax relief on contributions into a personal pension of up to £50,000 per year, together with any unused allowance for the previous three tax years. However, this allowance is reducing to £40,000 from April 6, 2014. Company contributions into your personal pension count towards the £50,000 allowance. However, they are not restricted by earnings so, in theory, your company can make a contribution of up to £200,000 in a single year, receiving tax relief against company profits. Cash flow often means pension contributions are not considered. However


Expert opinion rIf you hold existing pension funds it is important to ensure you are maximising the full potential of the value held. It may be that the value could be transferred into a SIPP to help the future growth of your farming business.




it is possible to make an inspecie contribution. For example you can transfer part of, or an interest in, the farm land or buildings instead of making a cash contribution. This can be achieved using a self-invested personal pension (SIPP). A SIPP enables greater control of your pension fund and offers a wider range of potential investments including property. A transfer of land to your pension fund can achieve tax relief at up to 45%. In addition, the property is then held in the SIPP and grows in value tax-free and the business receives tax relief for the rent it pays to the SIPP. It is common for individuals to hold two or more pension policies, but consolidating funds into a single SIPP allows the owner greater control, providing them with a vehicle for use in the business, either by releasing cash or purchasing property for use in the business. Where cash flow is tight, and there are funds in an existing pension policy, these could be released to the farming business. For example, Mr Smyth was under pressure from the bank to reduce his overdraft. He

had funds in a pension policy of £100k. He was able to transfer these funds into a SIPP. Mr Smyth then sold some of his land to his SIPP in exchange for the £100k cash, which he could then use to reduce his overdraft. There is a capital gains tax and stamp duty land tax charge on the transfer. However, this is often the preferred route to raise cash in the business rather than sell the land to a third party. The business can continue to farm the land which it rents from the SIPP. A SIPP can also be used for purchasing or building farm property tax efficiently. It allows existing pension funds to be used to fund the investment and increases the potential for borrowing. For example, Mr Giles’s neighbour decided to sell 25 acres of land which was going to auction. Mr Giles had two existing pension funds, holding cash and other investments of approximately £100k each. He consolidated the two funds into a SIPP and raised borrowing in the SIPP for the remainder, enabling Mr Giles’s SIPP to purchase the land. The SIPP then rented the land to Mr Giles.

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Dairy Farmer Digital Edition December 2013  

Dairy Farmer Digital Edition December 2013

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