**DF Jan Cover
DAIRY FARMER Forward thinking for a profitable future
Inside this issue… Profit for life AGRICULTURE
We’ve added another string to our bow! The NWF New Business Team has been created to help you target your input needs.
Breeding special Pages 12-22
Compass farms Pages 6-8
For more information call us on:
0800 7562 787 www.nwfagriculture.co.uk
The clock is ticking...
Compounds • Blends • Minerals • Molasses • Fertiliser • Supplements
Milk prices Good Evans Page 32
TIP OF THE MONTH: What can milk fats tell you about the health status of your cows? – p16
**DF Contents p1
In this issue…
sda’s paper at a recent Reaseheath conference on sustainability within the dairy industry could never be anything other than intriguing because the primary yardstick can only be financial – witness the mass exodus. Its dairy buying manager told us the retailer had found itself with decreasing liquid milk sales and decided to remedy this by what she euphemistically called a ‘price investment’, which meant they cut the price to the customer and, co-incidentally, she said paid the producer 4ppl more. But there was no reference to what the market was doing generally over that period, which is vital in knowing whether their beneficence was outwith the improving market. Hard-bitten cynicism maybe, but it must be remembered the
current big-four price war was kicked off by Asda originally and now we are feeling the draught of low front-end prices feeding back to the processors and, despite Meadow Foods’ and Milk Link’s paradoxical attempt to forestall any price drops, maybe passed back to the producer shortly. Intriguingly Andersons, the consultants, make no bones about it and state the industry’s number one priority in their 2012 outlook is to get a bigger slice of the food chain margin. But manifestly, the giant retailers hold all the cards – when they call the tune everyone jumps, and no one has yet been able to devise a workable counterbalance to this power. Not until now. If EU proposals go through, it will be legal to have producer organisations representing up to a third of the milk marketed, which should just
Vol 59 No 1
News and comment News review Cowmen comment Compass Farm Potter’s View
2 4 6 10
Breeding special Bull proofs Milk fat profile Proof reliability Top Jersey herd
12 16 18 20
Editor about cover the direct selling groups. If that got off the ground, we could really see things start to move, and inject some of that much talked about sustainability back into the industry!
Regulars Marketplace Milk prices Workshop tips Good Evans
24 26 28 32
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Maize special feature
Dairy Farmer, UBM plc, Riverbank House, Angel Lane, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1SE. Origination by Farmers Guardian, UBM plc, 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.
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
**DF Jan p2 3 News
NEWS NEWS IN BRIEF Mary Mead ■ Well-known British Friesian enthusiast and co-founder of the renowned Yeo Valley dairy business, Mary Mead, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
A2 sires ■ UK breeding company Sterling Sires has been appointed UK distributor by Genetics Australia. Under the deal, semen from bloodlines unavailable until now in Holstein, Jersey and Aussie Red breeds will be marketed to offer a new gene pool for outcrossing or cross-breeding. Some GA bulls also carry two copies of the a2 milk gene.
Farmgate price ■ In October, the average UK farmgate price was 29ppl, according to Defra. This is 0.91ppl higher than the Sept price, and the highest ever recorded. It is also 3.20ppl higher than last year’s price.
Milk production ■ Milk volumes in November were similar to last year at 1032m litres. This is 4.3m litres more than the same month last year. To the end of November in the 2011/12 quota year, we produced just over 9bn litres. This is 51.2m more than last year, and nearly 400m litres more than two and three years ago.
Buyers make bid to steady milk market
espite persistent murmurings that some liquid milk processors are warming up farmers for a milk price drop early in the year to try and claw back savaged margins, the market has been strengthened recently through the actions of Meadow Foods, Milk Link, and generally ‘neutral’ price movements in the global market. In early December, Meadow Foods bolstered the market by lifting its price by 0.5ppl, and then Milk Link stated it will maintain its member milk price
until at least April 1, 2012. “As you may have read, there has been growing speculation from within some areas of the market that the New Year will see a cut in farmgate milk prices,” said the co-op’s bullish boss Neil Kennedy. “However, we do not believe such negative market talk is justified.” In early December, the Global Dairy Trade auction concluded with its overall basket price up 2.6%, with whole milk powder up 2% to $3637/tonne (£2336/t), and skimmed milk powder up 2.6% to $3424/t (2200/t).
Currency squeeze warning THE UK dairy industry could find itself trapped in a currency squeeze this year after our PM David Cameron’s determined stance against the EU26, resulting in pressure on farmgate milk prices. That’s the warning from the Dairy Group, which says sterling could strengthen against the euro as the powers that be search desperately to restore stability within the eurozone. “Despite the insulation of a very domestically-focussed industry, the European dairy market drives the
general level of market returns through competitive imports,” says the company’s report. Effectively, a strengthening pound will make imports seem less expensive.
Inputs Against this, farm inputs are widely linked to commodity markets traded in dollars and that is remaining relatively stable, meaning there will be little respite from the relatively high input costs being felt by herd owners.
In the week before Christmas – always a difficult period to read – the overall index was down 1.6%, with WMP down marginally at 1.5% and SMP down 3.2%. Overhanging the EU and UK market to some degree is the prospect that the New Zealanders will be sending cheap butter to the EU in early 2012. There is very little information available on this, and the degree to which it will have a major impact on prices is as yet unknown, but nevertheless it remains as a psychological marker in the sand.
FM pays dividend FIRST Milk will pay a 3% return on members’ capital in January, thanks to improved business performance in the six months to the end of September 2011. It will be the third time in 18 months it has paid out a return to members, giving an average member £1800. But there is a fair way to go to close the gap on its fellow co-op. For the 2010/11 financial year, Milk Link paid out a 9.25% return, equivalent to £4000 for a 1m litre producer. This was the fifth year in a row the co-op has made a payment to its members, taking the total to more than £17m.
Pilot badger cull announced Bigger share of margin AFTER decades of procrastination, Defra has finally announced plans to test whether culling badgers would help to reduce the spread of TB across the countryside. Two pilot areas will begin the cull in early autumn – after the Olympics as Ministers say police would be unable to cope with the security issues from the antis until the Games have finished. The cull will be for six weeks, and ‘will be closely managed and monitored to examine how safe, effective and humane a method this (shooting) is’. An independent panel of experts will evaluate the pilots
and report to Ministers before a decision is made on whether to roll out the policy more widely. In addition, Defra will invest a further £20m over the next five years on the development of usable badger and cattle vaccines. Defra’s scientists believe culling could reduce TB in cattle over a 150sq km area, plus a 2km surrounding ring, by an average of 16% over nine years. However, there are considerable obstacles to be overcome before farmers might begin to cull badgers, assuming the cull works and permission for wider cull areas gets the go-ahead.
WHILE milk prices have improved, producers will continue to struggle in the coming year, according to consultants Andersons. In their recently published Outlook 2012 report, they say the Defra farmgate price has increased from 25.3ppl to 28.0ppl from September 2010 to September 2011, but with the AMPE price at 32.8ppl for October ‘there remains an enormous gulf between the prices received by UK dairy farmers and the real value of the milk they produce’. The average milk price in Europe (EU-27) is 31ppl, some 3.5ppl higher than in the UK and
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
‘extracting a greater proportion of the food chain margin must remain the key priority for the UK dairy industry’, the report says. It highlights the polarity and differing cost of production between those on a high output and level supply contract against block calvers basing production on a high forage utilisation. The grazing systems have a cost, pre-rent and finance, of 21-25ppl, while the level supply producers have a cost of between 26-31ppl. They believe the popularity of grazing sytems is likely to grow, resulting in further dairy migration to the west of the country.
**DF Jan p2 3 News
EU package gives go ahead to groups
ast month’s EU Farm Council meeting saw the European Parliament and Council reach ‘an informal agreement’ on its Dairy Package, designed to give dairy farmers a stronger hand in negotiations with processors by having better contracts, while also moving the sector towards a more market-orientated and sustainable future.
The informal agreement gives member states the option to impose mandatory written contracts between farmers and processors on issues such as price and volume, and allows farmers to form producer organisations that could represent up to a third of national milk production. However, the UK Government has ruled out the introduction of formal legislation on contracts.
“The European Commission’s dairy package proposals were meant to safeguard the long-term future of the dairy sector but, with the exception of new powers for producer organisations, today’s agreement does little more than maintain the status quo for UK farmers,” said the NFU’s dairy adviser Rob Newbery. “We have been in intense discussions with the European
NFU scrutinises NVZ rule changes PLANS to make substantial changes to the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone action programme are premature and unnecessary, the NFU has said after Defra issued a consultation on the subject. It is proposing several changes to the rules regarding silage, slurry and fuel oil, further extensions to the closed periods for slurry spreading on heavier soils, and the re-consideration of
cover crops for sandy soils. The consultation is open for submissions until March 2012, with any decisions implemented from January 2013. “The consultation states that nitrate levels have generally fallen in many surface waters since the last review,” said NFU head of policy services Andrew Clark. “This reflects the impact of changing farming practice, the
industry’s ‘Tried and Tested’ initiative, as well as previous NVZ action programmes. “The reducing pressure from agricultural nitrate is reflected in a small but important reduction in NVZ designations for the first time. “We believe this makes Defra’s case for ‘whole territory’ designation all the more unnecessary,” he declared.
Campaign for non-industrial cows in Europe DESPITE Nocton’s demise, efforts to keep cows in fields and not in sheds are continuing in earnest, with Compassion in World Farming mounting a campaign to try to get dairy cows included more on the EU’s animal welfare agenda. “Right now, the European Commission is developing its Animal Welfare Strategy for the period to 2015. As it currently stands, dairy cows are at risk of being left out – we must not let
this happen,” stated a letter put out by the high profile antifarming organisation. “We are alarmed by the increasing industrialisation of dairy farming in Europe. “More and more cows are being kept in zero-grazed farms, with little or no access to pasture. This has serious implications for their health, and specific legislation on dairy cow welfare is long overdue.” It is calling for a Dairy Directive
‘to protect over 23 million of Europe’s dairy cows from inhumane treatment’ and is wanting concerned consumers to email the EU Directorate in charge of the Animal Welfare Strategy. Meanwhile, the World Society for the Protection of Animals – one of the most vociferous organisations to attack modern dairy farming – is continuing to up the ante on proposals in Wales to build what it calls a ‘super dairy’ of around 1000 cows.
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council throughout the dairy package negotiations, but it seems farmers will not be protected by common contract rules across the European single market.” The agreement must still be formally accepted by the Agriculture Council and the European Parliament, with likely adoption in 2012.
Cow choir hits the high notes YOU couldn’t make it up. Just before Christmas, Britain’s first dairy cow ‘choir’ issued a collection of ‘mootunes’ courtesy of DairyCo. The objective was to try to get the public to engage with dairy farming, and Andrew Gilman (Tamworth) and John Chapman (Middlesbrough) recorded sounds from their cows, which were digitally enhanced using computer wizardry. The best moos were assembled by a sound technician into ditties which are available on www.mootunes.org. To DairyCo’s credit, this got picked up in the The Sun and Daily Star with interviews with the farmers on BBC Farming Today and local radio coverage.
Muller drops price THE Market Drayton-based dairy business Muller has just announced a price drop of 0.5ppl effective from February 1.
**DF Jan p4 Cowmen
We’re learning how to get the most from our forages
he silage season finally ended here on November 25, with a very late fourth cut of bales. Luckily we managed to find three good days in a row and, as a bonus, managed to ted the grass prior to baling and wrapping. All cows came in by night on October 19, and by day on November 2. Cows are milking very well at the moment mainly due to an excellent first cut grass silage. They are currently doing 19 litres at more than 6% fat and 4% protein. (See panel for diet).
Current diet ■ 1kg rolled barley ■ 3kg blend ■ 0.125 mins ■ 4kg alkalage ■ 27kg grass silage/red clover.
Unfortunately we do not have enough of this first cut to make it all the way until turnout so we have started using some round bales of red clover to help stretch it out. The downside is that it takes longer to process in the wagon using more diesel at 70p/litre, and we reckon running the wagon costs us £10/hour in fuel alone without including the cost of running the loader. Now the cows are in 24/7 it gives us a chance to review this last grazing season and we feel we have made much better use of grazed grass than we have in the recent past, mostly made possible by the use of our plate meter and electric fencing. The result of this is our milk from forage has increased by 500 litres per cow making for better margins and a lot less wastage of grass. We have only cut seven acres
Christopher Murley Christopher Murley farms in partnership with his parents and brothers at Higher Bojewyan Farm on the north coast of Cornwall. They run 300 pedigree Jerseys averaging 5900 litres at 5.9% fat and 3.87% protein. for bales from the grazing area to take out surplus growth and maintain quality. This may not be a surprise to most of us but having spent the last 16 years taking advice from numerous nutritionists we seem to have lost the knowledge and confidence in grazing cows properly, and in the potential of good forage.
Tighter calving A year ago we decided we needed to make better use of all feed and as part of this we are trying to calve cows in a tighter block. At the moment we have two blocks, one between August and December and one February to mid-March. Now we are bringing the groups together to get them to calve in one block in September to November in two years time. The thinking is we can make most use of any concentrate used in winter and park the wagon for the summer, and concentrate on grazing and rationing grass. This last season we separated cows into two groups, the best cows were fed with the wagon at milking times and the rest only had grass and a small amount of nuts in the parlour. These cows had an amazing appetite for grass and would graze really well in any weather and also milked very well. There is no doubt calving cows in the spring to make the best use of grazed grass is the cheapest way to produce milk in this area of west Cornwall, as we can grow grass as well as anywhere, but to do this you would need lots of acres. At this time we do not have enough grazing land to spring
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
calve 300 cows without feeding some silage and this will defeat the object somewhat. If we can calve in the autumn, by the time cows go out in March most cows should be in-calf so feed intakes will be lower. Also by block calving all replacements will be reared in a tight block cutting the time spent daily rearing calves on milk from over 9-10 months back to 5-6 months. These calves will also be able to go out to grass full-time from early spring and do most of there growing from good quality pasture. Once off milk our calves are reared on our other farm a mile from here and usually they come home four weeks prior to calving. This year for the first time in the quest to cut costs from the system we are out wintering most of the youngstock. Normally we can keep them out on grass until the end of the year unless it gets very wet. This year we have sown some stubble turnips on off-land after spring barley and are strip grazing this and supplementing with some nice ryegrass haylage bales. We did think about a wood chip coral but then you are tied to one place and it is more permanent. Time will tell if we have made the right choice or not!
Farm facts ■ SIZE: 144ha (355 acres) ■ CROP: 22ha (55 acres) spring barley ■ HERD: 300 pedigree Jerseys + replacements ■ YIELD: 5900 litres, 5.9% F & 3.87% P ■ BACTOSCAN: 11 ■ CELL COUNT: 127 ■ MILK BUYER: Milk Link.
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**DF Jan p6 7 8 Compass Farm
Step 1: The promise of highe This is the first in a series of three articles looking at one of KW Alternative Feeds’ aptly named Compass Farms. Peter Hollinshead looks at the philosophy behind the concept and the practical ramifications of the approach.
K milk production from black-and-whites is significantly less than that in many other European countries and if we are not careful the gap may get even wider. That is the stark warning from Dr Michael Marsden, technical manager at KW Alternative Feeds (part of AB Agri), who believes higher UK yields would lead to better margins. And he should know as he
OPEN DAY ■ On completion of the three article series, there will be an open day at Crosby Grange in March to which readers will be invited. Details to follow.
spends a lot of his time visiting and advising on overseas farms and illustrates his belief with the fact the Swedes are doing in excess of 9000 litres, and Holland and Italy more than 8000 against our 7400 litres, although he is the first to concede none are as grassbased as we are. “There’s a big opportunity in the UK to produce more milk and improve margin per cow – the question is why aren’t we? The genetics are there, and even if producers have been using ‘bull of the day’ for the last five years, they’ve still got good potential,” he claims. He and his colleagues at KW decided to put their ideas into practice on real farms to demonstrate to other dairy farmers the potential is not only there, but is enticingly graspable.
But translating the blue yonder aspirations into reality was a different matter, and finding demonstration farms, or what they call their Compass Farms, would be more difficult. For a start it would demand a special sort of person prepared to tolerate interference and be prepared to work with them. In short someone prepared to admit they could improve. “Farmers have to be prepared to bare their souls and nobody likes to be embarrassed. By definition, if you say things can be improved it means they were not right at the start,” explains Dr Marsden. “And producers are understandably nervous if you start to push cows and fearful of getting more mastitis and the like, and doubly so if you claim you can increase yields while making other improvements, or at least not risking other areas like fertility,” he says. “We wanted farms with at least 150-200 cows with reasonable buildings and parlour, but most importantly a person who was
willing to learn and improve.” Are there such understanding and eager people queuing up to be put through this mill, one wonders? Well, they have got five – the current target so far – and, apart from their soul baring, participating farmers have to ensure they keep good records so the impact of any management change can be fully monitored.
Requirements “We discuss at length the requirements from both parties at the start – in fact there is a four page contract and everybody is clear what we expect from them and what they can expect from us,” says Dr Marsden. “We have also provided the services of independent consultants to collect, process and validate the data to give it independence and credibility. “Fundamentally, our approach is all about allowing the cow to express the milk production potential of feed by removing many of the environmental, health and fertility obstacles.”
www.youtube.com/coxagri to see the BRAY Cattle Breeding calendar in action!
Available from your local agricultural merchant, visit www.coxagri.com or call Cox on 0845 600 8081 for more info. The high TMR group – the first aim was to increase dry matter intakes.
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
**DF Jan p6 7 8 Compass Farm
er yields and better margins OK, we’re getting the message, but what’s in it for KW and what does it cost? They say they see it, through its high public profile, as a firmly based example to other farmers that their advice and products are sound and manifestly work in practice. As a bonus this can then be used to demonstrate different feeding systems with the advantage this expertise will then cascade down through their own workforce as a sound approach to clients. There is no direct additional charge or feed discounts to the Compass farmers who have to purchase their feed products at market prices – and not necessarily from KW if they can find the same or similar product cheaper elsewhere. But what most producers will inevitably fear is that it will entail prising open the cheque book to update whatever existing equipment is deemed unfit for the KW purpose. “But no,” counters Dr Marsden, “with the exception of the odd farm gate and on one farm a molasses tank, we haven’t asked for any major capital expenditure on our Compass Farms – far from it, it’s all about changing the feeding and management and working as a team.” The biggest problem is committing to the concept in the first place and two of the biggest stumbling blocks are undeniably pride and trust. “Most farmers are quite rightly proud of what they do so it can be like walking on eggshells, and you need to be sensitive even as a nutritionist,” confides Dr Marsden. “But when we go on to farms we always ask if they mind if we comment on their system before we say anything, and they more than often tell me, especially in forthright Yorkshire, that ‘that’s what you’re here for’.” One of the first brave farmers to swallow their pride and take the plunge were the Smith Bros of Crosby Grange, Northallerton, where John and Mark Smith look after the livestock and arable on the 600-acre farm carrying a 380strong herd of Holsteins plus 320 head of youngstock. The partnership with Crosby Grange began in the summer of
The Compass programme strategy at Crosby Grange Strategy Reduce calving-related problems
Increase dry matter intakes
Move to pro-active veterinary input
Improve labour structure
Actions ■ Dry cow feeding management simplified. ■ New straw-based dry cow diet introduced. ■ Target dry period of 42 days implemented. ■ Dry cows primed for lactation. ■ Ration balance improved (palatability and structure). ■ Fresh cow comfort improved and lameness reduced. ■ Focused on prevention rather than cure. ■ Started weekly fertility visits. ■ Implemented new herd health protocols. ■ Unskilled labour replaced. ■ New herd manager employed from LKL Services. ■ Increased commitment to strict health and hygiene routines.
2008 and it was recognised changes would be needed if the agreed targets were to be met. But what we have here, according to Dr Marsden, is what a lot of farms could be doing and that is to go up a gear and increase output and ultimately margin.
Production And so we are all clear, what tangibly was Messrs Smith going to get out of this in terms of production? “I thought we could put on five litres on the 25 litres daily average, but I am happy to say we eventually did eight litres lifting the daily average to 33 litres. “To start with we conducted a SWOT analysis to identify the key issues that were holding back production and greater profitability. From this we created a strategy that recognised the farm is made up of discrete but interlinked units like calf and heifer rearing, dry cows, and early and late lactation milking groups,” he says. The first things that appeared to be putting the brake on production were the usual issues of feed intake and utilisation, and health and fertility. This is where the need for a total team approach becomes very evident, and KW considered it vital to hold regular tripartite meetings between the Smiths (plus farm staff), KW and their vet, to ensure all three parties were working towards the same goal. The Smiths decided to change their vet and review their labour structure, replacing three workers with LKL herd manager Mick Spears, plus other local staff. “It takes time to implement change and to start to see the
The milking parlour – herd daily yield has improved by 8 litres per cow. benefits,” says Dr Marsden, “but I held the strong belief the team could turn things around.” Herd manager Mick Spears joined the team in November 2009, focussing on actually managing the herd rather than an ‘all hands to the pump’ approach, where there had been no time to stand back and manage. An extra bonus with this appointment was that Mr Spears’ wife is a very experienced and competent calf rearer, and so she was employed to manage that department.
Co-ordinated The new vet, Jonathan Statham of the Bishopton Veterinary Group, arrived in summer 2009 and from then Dr Marsden started to see the basic building blocks fitting into place to help achieve the objectives. “You have to have a coordinated approach with the farmer, vet and nutritionist working together – preferably
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
face to face – to devise action plans to achieve everyone’s goals. Following every meeting we had a definite plan as to who should do what and by when,” says Dr Marsden. A fundamental part of the proposal was to scrutinise the feeding regime and specifically to raise dry matter intakes as a priority to achieving the production goals and contributing to improved health and fertility. “As you might imagine there were lots of things to consider and we started by creating the correct nutritional and physical attributes to the diet, eg opening up the diet with pressed pulp, checking TMR to make sure it wasn’t overmixed, reducing trough sorting and improving palatability by adding Spey Syrup (a distillery liquid). The most balanced diet will not work to its potential unless we achieve target intakes and ensure a happy rumen. “The Smiths always produce good forages, especially the grass
**DF Jan p6 7 8 Compass Farm
and the fermented whole crop wheat, with the maize in some years being at the mercy of the gods. It has been important to challenge the cows with as much forage as possible. “To complement this we used a mix of starch and digestible fibre sources to provide additional fuel to the rumen. The former has been propionic treated wheat, a necessity due to rain spoiling the harvest, SweetStarch and latterly processed bread, soya hulls and sugar beet pulp. “Rumen degradable protein has been supplied from the start with Spey Syrup, rapeseed meal and wheat distillers with a portion of the latter adding rumen by-
IMPROVEMENTS Improvements made at Crosby Grange: ■ Daily milk yield up by eight litres per cow ■ Herd calving interval cut from 454 to 418 days ■ Average SCCs cut from 300 to under 150 ■ Clinical mastitis cases cut by 50%.
pass protein which is supplemented further with the heattreated rape meal Prototec (a soya bean meal replacer) and SoyPass. To cap it off the Smiths have always fed the protected fat Golden Flake, yeast and minerals.”
Dry cows Attention was also focused on the dry cows and managing them properly. “Some producers across the world don’t appreciate that when you dry a cow off it’s really the start of the next lactation not merely the finish of the present one, though this is changing rapidly as producers see the benefits. The cornerstone here is based on a one-stage system, controlling the potassium intake, ensuring sufficient rumen degradable and by-pass protein, and that the majority of the milking ration components are in the dry ration. It’s vital the cows are ready at calving and not adapting post calving,” insists Dr Mardsen. As the diets gradually got sorted so other aspects started to improve. “There was a significant reduction in calving issues, particularly milk fever which plummeted, and as Mark Smith
told me ‘they now just get on with it’, and all this leads to better feed intakes when the cows are returned to the herd,” says Dr Marsden. The veterinary input, which will be discussed in more depth in the next issue, looked at disease prevention. Two of the problems were IBR and later BVD, and like many farmers, the Smith’s were convinced initially there was not an issue. But with encouragement from Jonathan and Michael, the cost benefits showed the Smiths that IBR vaccination would be worthwhile. Indeed, following a period of little signs of heat, nasal vaccination on a Friday resulted in no less than 21 cows coming bulling by the Monday which reinforced the message that one more day post-365 open would more than pay for the vaccine itself. Then there was the record keeping which had to be brought up to scratch – partly to monitor progress and identify cattle which needed closer vet scrutiny. Locomotion scoring was introduced to assess the start position and then the benefits of management changes such as feeding, hoof trimming and
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
Michael Marsden: define goals. general parlour flow could be measured, and their contribution to production and fertility. More attention was also paid to identifying bulling cows by introducing RMS, and the transformation there has been ‘remarkable’. “Our work at Crosby Grange I like to see in motoring terms,” says Dr Marsden, “what we have is a Ferrari and it’s just beginning to fire on all cylinders.” ■ This article illustrates the challenges at Crosby Grange and how KW set about making changes. Next month we will be looking at developments through the eyes of the vet to see how he helped get the farm on the right track.
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**DF Jan p10 Potter
PO could be answer to retailers’ armlock This month Ian Potter casts his mind to what the New Year could herald – perhaps rationalisation among the processors and the establishment of a producer organisation as a counter to retailer power.
his year’s EFFP annual conference, entitled ‘Volatile Landscape’, was attended by 349 of the industry’s great and good (plus me), and the conclusion was clear that we no longer have any world food mountains or milk lakes, and for many food is becoming a challenge to afford. Also discussed was the extraordinary punching power of the NGOs and the multitude of pressure groups who challenge farming on almost every front. This was compared to an almost ‘embarrassing deathly silence’ from their farming counterparts, who struggle to educate and inform the public on a range of issues. So far as the dairy industry is concerned, in most cases we miserably fail to dispel the myths and get on the front foot with our PR and positive stories. Instead we either hide in the hope the issue vanishes, or mount a last minute defence with a complicated message that often confuses the public. As Farmers Weekly editor Jane King commented: “We seem to have lots of talking shops with no action.” Very true – particularly in England and Wales.
Global pressure The conference was told farmers need to ‘up their game’ in order to feed an extra 80m people a year in addition to a Far Eastern population transferring from a rice diet to meat. One speaker referred to the global pressure to feed this rising population as a ‘nutritional revolution’. In terms of dairying, China is still the biggest cog driving the success of world dairying. The Chinese population of 1.3bn may not have the money today to buy fresh dairy products but they certainly are a very exciting longterm opportunity.
Whilst Nimbys and Middle England do-gooders (supposedly) fret about plans for a 2500 breeding sow unit less than 10 miles from my offices, China is planning a single 600,000 breeding sow unit. UK Agriculture will have to pull together to do things differently and adopt new technologies. As the conference summary stated: ‘Old assumptions as to how we do business do not apply.’ Without change no living systems can survive. Remember, unlike pessimists, optimists are unafraid of change.
Rationalisation So what’s in store for our GB dairy industry in 2012 according to Potter’s tea leaves? Well some of my money is on major processor rationalisation and, with a good wind, 2012 could see some parts of our largest three GB liquid milk processors concentrated into two businesses – driven largely by Arla’s new Aylesbury plant. Hopefully other takeovers and mergers will happen. When/if three become two there will, perhaps, be less aggression to gain market share, where, throughout 2010/11, all three have fought like gladiators to win volume and retailers simply sat back and said, basically, ‘thanks lads we will have a slice of that cake’. It cannot carry on. In addition I genuinely feel GB milk co-ops will become more fashionable because it’s slowly dawning on most switched on dairy farmers that with good management and adoption of the right business model, they will be increasingly successful. Non co-op minded (direct supply) farmers are increasingly starting to see the personal value in the co-ops. It’s not been an easy birth but I sense they now have a golden opportunity.
If I were the UK’s dairy fairy with my magic wand (and not the Rottweiler), I would also like to see the formation of an association of retailer aligned producers, so the 25% (1 in 4) of the GB aligned farmers join forces for discussion, representation and (who knows) negotiation purposes. Under the new proposal from the European Commission such producer groups will be subject to EU (not UK) competition law. The new regulation will allow dairy farmers to form a group to account for up to 33% of total national milk production, which, for the UK, is around 4.5bn litres. With that quantity and the right negotiator it should be easier to collectively negotiate the right contract and milk price.
Collectively Producers will be able to collectively negotiate with both the supermarkets and their processors. Only then will some normality in the balance of power kick-in, and the never ending domino effect of retailers squeezing processors, followed by processors squeezing farmers might stop or even reverse. The only major hurdle I can see will be the existing representatives who have their own personal agendas and positions at the forefront of any decisions as opposed to what is best for the collected benefit of the farmers they claim to represent. We must not let their personal interests miss this opportunity. I hope if/when such a producer organisation is formed that the farmers will employ a professional with the skills and experience to negotiate. I am afraid that if the squeeze and price war, on which the supermarkets thrive, continues they will succeed in permanently shrinking and shafting the
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
Ian Potter Ian is a specialist milk quota and entitlement broker. Comments please to email@example.com UK dairy industry. I still cannot understand why numerous people in this industry still believe the retailer aligned liquid contracts are the dog’s whatsits when many believe they are restricting all milk prices. I believe UK production is unlikely to rise significantly. Cull cows are selling for almost record prices and farmers will offload them rather than feed them to produce marginal litres for an unreasonable return. Retailers have been given advance warning that they need to exercise extreme care over the spring pricing signals they send down the chain. GB ex farmgate milk prices are determined more by processor competition than the World and EU dairy commodity prices, and DairyCo data confirms retailers are making far more profit from liquid milk and cheese than farmers or their processors. There is a secret ceiling/cap on the maximum price a dairy farmer can receive for his milk and it’s controlled by our muchloved retailers. If one of our big retailers sneezes in March you will all catch a cold. Meanwhile I will continue to voice my observations for the thousands of UK dairy farmers who feel they have no voice – unless they tell me to shut up shop. Be warned it’s inevitable I will rattle more cages. I don’t have all the answers but I do have a big stick with which I am not afraid to poke a few tigers! If anyone wants to help me counter some of the crazy proposals and the unexposed truths behind this industry then you know where I am!
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**DF Jan p12 14 Bull proofs
Dakota seizes top rating to regain dominance of family The Oman bloodline family may have temporarily lost its chart topping position but the latest Oman son has soon re-established their dominance. Ann Hardy reports.
Buckeye, and his dam is a VG86 Oman x Durham. Beneath Levi, most top 10 bulls have done little more than jostle positions although the biggest move came from UFM-DUBS AltaEsquire who rises from 21st to seventh position. This is thanks to a big rise in his fat PTA to an impressive 37.2kg, which is the highest in the breed. But this proof run is really a story of UK breeding success, in particular for Northern Ireland’s Andrew McCollum who has bred two of the top 30 PLI bulls, one now with Cogent and the other with Genus. Leading the way is Ballycairn Tiergan who adds 13 daughters (he now has 71 in 47 herds) and enters the top 10 for the first time. He takes over as the highest ranking Goldwyn son available in the UK with a PLI of £216. With good fat production, very low cell counts, good daughter fertility and 1.8 points for type (the highest in the PLI top 20), he is truly of international calibre and will be a first choice for many who are seeking an outcross from Oman bloodlines. Tiergan’s dam is Ballycairn Garter Tinnie VG87, a former UK number one PLI cow. Tiergan’s herd mate is Ballycairn Linus who enters the rankings for the first time with 82 daughters in 61 herds and a PLI of £192, although he hails from a different cow family. An Oman out of a Jocko, he offers the health and
Dakota daughter, HBC Dakota Loise VG85.
Tiergan daughter, Waldfordmanor Tiergan Mattie 2.
fitness traits for which his sire is renowned, along with good production figures. With 0.51 points for type, his linear profile is most notable for the chest width of his daughters. Sandwiched between the two Ballycairn bulls among the UK leaders is Cogent Twist, which now ranks 22nd of all available
bulls, rising from 32nd. With a PLI of £199, over 600kg milk and 1.3 points for type, he’s the highest ranking son of Shottle. Sinatra son, Bidlea Padbury, continues to put in a solid performance at £157 PLI, with particularly good daughter fertility (FI 5.1), while Goldwyn son, Abbeyhouse Mr Gold (PLI £156)
he battle of the Oman sons is currently being won by ALH Dakota who has risen to the top of the DairyCo’s December rankings with a huge Profitable Lifetime Index of £258. Pushing aside former front runner, Lynbrook Jancen, Dakota has the distinction of transmitting massive milk production (PTA milk 1035kg, 67.5kg fat plus protein) with exceptional daughter fitness. Most notable is his 0.5 Lifespan Index which is among the best of the top 50 PLI bulls and suggests this is a bull which really may have it all. Although still only having a first crop proof with the scope to change, with 154 daughters in 91 herds contributing to his figures, all the signs are encouraging. Having had either the good fortune to have taken on Dakota’s sire almost a decade ago, the relatively small breeding company, Dairy Daughters, will be optimistic they may have scored their second major coup with this bull. Jancen holds on to second position, with around half the volume and twice the milk quality of Dakota, and with similarly high scores for fitness traits. Beneath him Morningview Levi, having jumped from sixth to third position, is the best daughter fertility improver in the top 10 (Fertility Index 5.1) and is the highest ranking Oman grandson. His sire is the BW Marshall son,
Table 1: Top 10 Holstein bulls ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) December 2011 Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
£PLI 258 242 233 227 224 222 220 219 217 216
Bull Name ALH DAKOTA LYNBROOK JANCEN MORNINGVIEW LEVI CO-OP OMAN LOGAN TIMMER TYSON MAINSTREAM MANIFOLD UFM-DUBS ALTAESQUIRE LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN CO-OP OMAN LOYDIE BALLYCAIRN TIERGAN
Rel% Milk(kg) Fat(kg) Prot(kg) Fat(%) 79 1035 34.0 33.5 -0.08 74 461 31.4 24.4 0.16 74 665 28.5 25.2 0.03 73 956 34.8 29.5 -0.03 78 119 31.3 16.8 0.33 74 877 33.9 26.6 -0.01 76 497 37.2 23.1 0.21 73 704 29.0 29.6 0.01 73 472 28.0 24.0 0.11 92 397 31.3 18.6 0.19
Prot(%) SCC 0.00 -11 0.11 -11 0.04 -20 -0.02 -23 0.16 -17 -0.02 -8 0.08 -3 0.08 -1 0.10 -15 0.07 -18
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
LS 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
FI 0.8 0.4 5.1 -0.9 3.6 3.5 -0.1 -1.2 1.4 1.7
dCE% 1.7 – 1.3 0.5 2.6 2.8 1.9 1.7 2.2 0.8
TM 0.5 -0.2 0.8 0.5 -0.6 0.8 0.5 1.5 0.7 1.8
Sire Oman Oman Buckeye Oman Oman Oman Oman Oman Oman Goldwyn
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**DF Jan p12 14 Bull proofs
BREEDING Table 2: Top five UK-tested Holstein bulls ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) December 2011 Rank 1 2 3 4 5
£PLI 216 199 192 157 156
Bull Name Rel% Milk(kg) Fat(kg) Prot(kg) Fat(%) Prot(%) BALLYCAIRN TIERGAN 92 397 31.3 18.6 0.19 0.07 COGENT TWIST BLF 93 603 36.9 22.9 0.16 0.04 BALLYCAIRN LINUS 93 540 27.3 23.2 0.07 0.07 BIDLEA PADBURY 96 102 11.8 14.1 0.10 0.14 ABBEYHOUSE MR GOLD 94 755 17.0 19.3 -0.15 -0.06
SCC -18 -13 -4 -10 -24
LS 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.3
FI 1.7 -3.8 1.3 5.1 1.2
dCE% 0.8 -0.8 0.0 -0.1 0.3
TM 1.8 1.3 0.5 1.6 1.9
Sire Goldwyn Shottle Oman Sinatra Goldwyn
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AIS = AI Services; ALT = Alta; AV= Avoncroft; BUL = bullsemen.com; DOV = Dovea; COG = Cogent; DD = Dairy Daughters; GEN = Genus ABS; GG = Global Genetics; KSS = Kingstreet Sires; SMX = Semex; SRL = Sterling Sires; WWS = World Wide Sires UK; VIK = UK Viking Genetics. PLI = Profitable Lifetime Index; FI = Fertility Index; LS = Lifespan Index; SCC = Somatic Cell Count index; dCE% = direct Calving Ease; TM = Type Merit. offers good type (Type Merit 1.9), excellent Fertility Index (FI 2.3), PTA milk at 683kg and SCC Index of -24. Just below at £156
PLI is newcomer Moet Baldric (by Mascol), out of a Lookout dam from the famous Cadet’s family. “British bulls have performed
Top type transmitters HOLSTEIN UK’s type proofs are dominated by Goldwyn more than ever, with eight of the top 10 sires by this bull, and no change at the top with Toc-Farm Goldsun (Type Merit 4.01), Zelgadis (TM 3.65) and Go-Farm Artes (TM 3.47) retaining the positions they held in the previous proof run. Ranking fourth is the relative newcomer Regel Elegant Beagle (Honeycrest Elegant x Stormatic) at TM 3.26, and he is unusual in
having no Goldwyn in his pedigree. Van Gogh moves into fifth position and Curtismill Mr Sam remains the highest type transmitter from the UK (TM 3.13), and is less extreme for stature than most of his high type cohorts. Two North American newcomers rank seventh and eight with B-Crest Shadow (Goldwyn x Durham) at TM 3.08, and Mr Vision-Gen Altaclint (Goldwyn x Opsal Finley) at TM 3.04.
particularly well in this proof run,” says Marco Winters, head of genetics with DairyCo. “In the context of the thousands of
Holstein bulls tested around the world, to have three UK bulls in the top 30 demonstrates a good return to AI from bulls tested in the UK.”
Table 3: Top 10 Holstein bulls ranked on type merit (Dec 2011) Rank Name Type merit £PLI Available from 1 Toc-Farm Goldsun 4.01 122 KSS 2 Zelgadis 3.65 146 GEN 3 Go-Farm Artes 3.47 174 DD 4 Regel Elegant Beagle 3.26 112 DD 5 Van Gogh 3.22 160 BUL 6 Curtismill Mr Sam 3.13 120 GEN 7 B-crest shadow-et 3.08 138 SEM 8 Mr Vision-Gen Altaclint 3.04 86 ALT 9 Bassingthorpe Bossman 3.02 142 GEN 10 Raline Lakota 3.00 89 SRL Other UK-tested bulls high in the type stakes include Bassingthorpe Bossman (TM 3.02); Shottle (2.53); Loader (2.49); Smiddiehill
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
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**DF Jan p16 17 Fats
A WORD FROM BOEHRINGER
MASTITIS is a significant problem in UK dairy herds, with implications for animal welfare, herd health and farm productivity. It is vital affected cows are detected early and treated promptly and appropriately to ensure a full return to health and milk production. Inflammation in the udder as a result of mastitis causes pain and discomfort to the cow. Signs which can be associated with the inflammation include changes to the milk, such as clots or flakes, and swelling and heat in the udder. Affected cows may have reduced rumen function as a result of the inflammation. This reduced rumen function and dry matter intake can negatively impact on the cow’s productivity, general health and immune status. It is possible to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with everyday cases of clinical mastitis through using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Metacam. Antibacterial agents reduce the bacteria causing the mastitis, but do not directly treat the inflammation associated with the infection, which can cause damage to the udder and delay healing. This product reduces inflammation in the mammary gland, reducing the pain, heat and swelling in the udder. This can aid the recovery of the udder and helps the cow return to effective, healthy milk production. Studies have shown when Metacam is used alongside antibiotics in treating everyday mastitis, somatic cell counts and culling rates are significantly reduced compared with those cases treated using antibiotics alone. By reducing the inflammation associated with mastitis, NSAIDs assist cows in their recovery and improve their future health and productivity. Advice on the use of NSAID or other therapies should be sought from your veterinary surgeon.
Milk fat profile in the spotlight Ann Hardy asks NML’s Ben Bartlett about the ramifications for the industry of being able to measure fatty acid profiles.
here can’t be many self-respecting dairy farmers who don’t know the fat and protein content of their milk. But what about the fatty acid profile – and in particular the different proportions of saturated and unsaturated fats? If they don’t already know – and there are certainly those who do – then they may be well advised to find out. For if they want to be at the cutting edge of milk production, gain a premium for their milk and help the UK population overcome its growing obesity and cardiovascular problems, then they might consider manipulating fatty acid profiles. This message will be delivered at the British Cattle Conference, later this month, by Ben Bartlett from National Milk Laboratories. He believes there is not only a moral duty on the dairy industry to play a part in reducing the UK’s saturated fat intake, but that failure to do so will paint the industry as the villain of public health. “The Government wants the UK population to reduce its saturated fat intake from 13% to 11% of its total energy consumption, and the last thing we need is for its recommendations to be for people to reduce their intake of dairy produce,” he says, observing that milkbased products are a significant contributor to saturated fat intakes. Instead, he believes there is plenty of scope to reduce the saturated fats in milk through both feeding and breeding. His view is based on bulk tank measurements of saturated and unsaturated fats which have been taken by NML across more than 80% of British herds since November 2010. “There’s a clear pattern in the data,”
Fatty acid facts By Laura Randall, veterinary adviser
Unsaturated fats are broadly considered to be more healthy for humans than saturates. Dairy products are the largest source of saturated fats in the human diet. There is scope to reduce saturates in milk through feeding and breeding. A 2012 trial will examine associations between the different milk fats and other health and production parameters. Herds are being sought to take part in the trial.
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
says Mr Bartlett, “which shows an average 72% of milk fats were saturates in November 2010 compared with 64% at turnout in spring 2011.” (See graph 1). Remarking on the likely role played by fresh grass in achieving this trend, he says milk produced from grazed grass generally has the lowest saturates, while grass silage is not quite as good at reducing saturates and maize silage is worse than both. However, a snapshot taken in any month shows a wide variation between herds from, for example, as little as 55% to more than 80% saturates in November bulk milk samples. (See graph 2).
Saturate scale And since not all herds at the low end of the saturate scale are feeding grass and not all herds at the high end are feeding maize, there are clearly other factors at work. “We don’t know exactly what they are,” declares Mr Bartlett. “It could be influenced by the weather or it could be silage quality, but the profile appears to change with stage of lactation and we’ve even noted higher saturates from farms at higher altitude.” Meanwhile, other factors have been proven to be more clear cut and he names extruded linseed as a feed ingredient likely to bring about beneficial change. Accepting there is a cost attached to using this type of ingredient, he says several milk buyers across Europe including Campina and Danone, as well as Marks and Spencer in the UK, are already paying some producers to raise their milk’s unsaturates. But while there may be a payment premium associated with unsaturated fats, another benefit has been seen in the cows’ health. “Just as higher levels of unsaturated fats are beneficial to humans, it’s also been found that producing more healthy milk is better for the cow,” says Mr Bartlett. “There’s a correlation between cow health and the fatty acid profile of her milk, with a better rumen function in particular associated with higher levels of unsaturates.” Taking this a step further he says this has environmental benefits too, as a healthy rumen utilises dietary energy more efficiently, so minimising waste and
**DF Jan p16 17 Fats
Graph 1: Per cent saturated fats in GB milk (Nov 2010 – Nov 2011). Source: NML – all figures expressed as a percentage of total milk fats. methane emissions. “It’s a win-win situation,” he insists, “and the trick is for the added costs of feeding to be met by the milk price premium while the farmer gains extra benefit from a more healthy herd.” For 2012, the study into fatty acids is continuing in the UK with the Scottish Agricultural College, Marks and Spencer and NML all involved. “We’ll be looking for around 500 herds to partake and will be measuring a variety of fatty milk acids at the individual cow level,” he says. Relating fatty acids to a broad
range of other factors – ranging from feeding and management to body condition, cell counts, fertility and overall fat and protein production – should help create a clear picture. Emphasising the importance of ensuring there are no detrimental effects, such as changing the consistency of cheese, he adds: “An increased understanding of the dynamics between fatty acids and other performance characteristics will mean there’s potential for the gap between the best and the worst herds (in terms of saturated fats) to be narrowed.” The problem also has the pot-
Graph 2: Snapshot of bulk milk saturated fats in GB (Nov 2011). ential to be addressed through breeding and to what degree producers wish to manipulate fat type through diet will be influenced by the outcome of the trial. “A price premium for some milk will certainly drive up interest and the uptake of fatty acid testing,”
says Mr Bartlett, “although I believe the greater driver for farmers will come through the health of their cows.” ■ Dairy day at the British Cattle Conference is 25 January 2012. See www.cattlebreeders.org.uk for details.
Testing milk for its fatty acid profile ■ Traditionally milk has been tested using gas chromatography at a cost of around £120 per sample. ■ MIR (Mid Infra Red) testing is now being used at a cost of around £3 per bulk milk sample. ■ NML is involved in a European
study (www.optimir.eu) which aims to calibrate MIR testing across Europe. ■ This will assist in the crossborder trade of dairy products and genetics and the development of genetic evaluations for fatty acids.
**DF Jan p18 19 Reliability
Are genomic evaluations relia With the first genomic evaluations in the pipeline, will traditional progeny testing become an expensive thing of the past? Genus ABS’ Stephanie Whittaker urges farmers to continue to pay particular attention to reliability when choosing dairy sires.
eliability is the measure which gives farmers confidence that the sires they choose will deliver the anticipated improvement in the traits they want. “But in the quest for increased genetic progress, farmers may be tempted to choose bulls that look promising but which initially have a low reliability, and this is a higher risk strategy,” warns Genus ABS’ Stephanie Whittaker. “The whole objective of bull proofs is to help identify those sires that will convey improvements in the desired traits and while PTAs (Predicted Transmitting Abilities) are an indicator of the bull’s merit, just how good an indicator they are depends on the data used to calculate them,” she explains. Ms Whittaker says that the first
Daughter of the much used Shottle who has a reliability of 99%.
genetic indices for a bull are based on pedigree information but over time actual production information is added, usually through a full progeny testing scheme. As more extensive and more reliable data is added, the accuracy increases and the greater the likelihood the anticipated improvements will be seen. The amount and quality of data affects how accurate the prediction will be, and this accuracy is presented as the reliability. Progeny testing has been the tried and tested approach for many years, but during 2012 the first UK-based genomic evaluations will be available providing a new guide, and one which is being heralded as a major step forward. “A genomic evaluation is not a 'proof' because there are no
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**DF Jan p18 19 Reliability
iable enough yet to bank on? actual daughters evaluated to 'prove' that the breeding values are consistent. While genomics are an improvement on an evaluation based solely on parent information, and are something we are using when selecting possible sires for progeny testing, the reliability is significantly below that of progeny testing. “What you are ideally looking for is a high reliability and a widespread proof where the bull’s data include results from a large number of daughters spread over a large number of herds. This means management influences have been minimised and the bull has the greatest chance of success,” she says. “A sire progeny tested in, for instance, the Genus Cornerstone Breeding Programme with a first crop of daughters will typically have around 100 daughters in 60 herds and a reliability of well over 80%. A genomic evaluation will have a reliability of 56-65% which is equivalent to 10 to 11 daughters within a sire’s proof.” (See Table 1).
Table 1: Typical reliability of different evaluation methods Reliability 10-55% 56-65% 66-74% 75-90% 91-98%
Comment Very low Low to moderate Moderate Moderate to high High
Information Mainly pedigree index Very early proofs / genomics Early proofs with some information on progeny and typically foreign bulls Bulls with an initial progeny test through AI Proven bulls with a large number of daughters from a wide cross section of herds Widely proven and used AI bulls.
Table 2: Effect of reliability on movement in bull proofs Sire type Young sire Genomic sire First crop sire Second crop sire
Reliability (%) 30 50-60 75-90 90+
Milk (kg) +/- 590 +/- 366 +/- 164 +/- 73
Legs and feet +/- 1.9 +/- 1.4 +/- 0.9 +/- 0.2
Udder +/- 1.7 +/- 1.3 +/- 0.8 +/- 0.2
More data Ms Whittaker explains all proofs and evaluations change as more information, particularly daughter data, is added. In general the higher the reliability the less a bull’s proof or evaluation will change. Table 2 shows the extent of change in a bull’s proof depending on the reliability. “If we look at milk yield for example we see an initial proof for a young sire with a reliability of around 30% could move by +/- 590kg as more data is added, which is a huge variance. A genomic sire could move by +/- 366kg which means a sire who looks good initially may fail to deliver as more data is added. Conversely, a proof for a sire with second crop daughters is very stable and the expected change in his proof is +/- 73kg, which is negligible. “The same picture is seen with key type traits. The difference in movement between a genomically evaluated sire and a sire with second crop daughters is +/- 1.2 on legs and feet and +/-1.1 on udder traits. What this means is the daughters of genomically evaluated young sires could end up with very different type than was expected. “If a farmer elects to use a low reliability sire, there is a greater risk that the bull’s proof will change significantly by the time his second crop daughters are added. In other words you could actually be using a very different animal to the one you selected on the initial proof. It may not produce the expected extra milk or may fail to correct the type trait he was chosen for. This will reduce the rate of genetic progress and may lead to higher culling rates and replacement costs. “Selecting bulls with high reliability is the best way to ensure you get the genetic improvements you expect. It only takes a few seconds to inseminate a cow but many years to breed out the consequences of a poor decision based on low reliability,” she says.
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
**DF Jan p20 22 Wheelbirks
Top Jerseys show what can be done Pedigree Jerseys are paying their way for a north-east family with yields from forage running at 45 per cent and high fertility levels allowing sales of surplus heifers. Jennifer MacKenzie reports.
rothers Hugh and Tom Richardson’s 112-strong Wheelbirks Jersey herd based near Stocksfield, Northumberland, won the RABDF Lilly Hill Trophy for the breed this year. By paying attention to detail, the Richardsons, their herd manager Chris Shipley, Carrs Billington nutritionist Julie Sargent and vet Iain Carrington, of Intake Vets, Hexham, have, year-on-year, increased the number of calvings and improved fertility, lifted yields while increasing milk from forage and margins over purchased feed. Hugh and Tom took over from their father Michael as the fifth generation of the family at Wheelbirks where the Jersey herd was established in 1925. In total they farm 495 acres, with 40 acres permanent pasture and 150 acres of barley which provides straw and grain, and 20 acres of oilseed rape. The brothers took the opportunity to sell their 170-ewe Mule flock after the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic and invested in ice cream-making equipment to add value and sell direct to the public – and this enterprise now makes around half the business’s income. Average yield per cow has increased by 23 per cent since last October, running at 5908 litres a cow. Yield from all forage per cow has risen by 62 per cent to 2681 litres – equivalent to 45 per cent of the total yield from forage. On an annual basis, the litres retained on farm for ice cream production is now around 7400 litres, and milk sold off the farm going to specialist Jersey dairy J and E Dickinson at Longley Farm, Holmfirth, has risen by 21 per cent to 655,753 litres. The milk price has increased from 33.01p over the year to 34.85p, while the margin over purchased feed per litre has increased from 24.73p to 27.72p. In winter cattle are housed with the milk cows in cubicles, and since trough space is restricted, they are fed three times a day with a TMR to M+15 litres and topped up in the parlour. The 14x14 Westfalia herringbone parlour was installed four years ago and aids management with computerised auto
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
Left to right: Hugh Richardson, Chris Shipley and Tom Richardson. identification and heat detection. Calves are fed their mother’s milk for the first couple of days and then reared on an automatic machine which weans them by two months old. The system ensures the heifers are mature enough to be bulled at 15 months old. Bull calves are reared alongside the heifers and Jersey beef is sold through the restaurant. Sexed semen and British Blue and Aberdeen Angus bulls are also likely to be used in the future to prevent a surplus of pure Jersey bulls. The cattle are vaccinated for BVD in January and as a producer retailer, the herd is subject to an annual TB test. The cattle are also monitored for Johne’s through the SAC scheme. The vet makes routine visits to the herd every two to three weeks. Any cows not seen bulling by 42 days are treated with a PRID and are seen by the vet. The current conception rate is 1.9 services with the herd having a calving index of 361 days. The calving interval has been dropping due to good record keeping, improved observations and early inseminations. The culling rate is 15 per cent, with surplus stock sold privately or at pedigree sales. The preferred option is to sell point of calving heifers, but last year a number of second and third calvers were sold as a batch. This year excess heifers will be for sale in-calf or newly calved. Three ET calves are expected next year and they will form the foundation of an elite herd of 10 to 15 cows at Wheelbirks. Julie Sargent says the aim is to maximise dietary performance using the farm’s own resources.
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**DF Jan p20 22 Wheelbirks
BREEDING Dry cow diets at Wheelbirks Farm Milk from forage and margin over purchased feed have both increased for the Jersey herd at Wheelbirks, Stocksfield.
To maintain milk yields and quality, extra concentrate is fed in the parlour from April to June when the cows are turned out. As grass quality deteriorates in July some barley is introduced to the ration. “We want to keep butterfat levels above 6 per cent but we also want to maintain milk yields. We find milk yields drop if we don’t introduce buffer feeding early enough,” she said. “The cows don’t peak particularly high because there is such a good calving index, but yield is maintained and the current daily average is just short of 20 litres which we try to maintain. As the average yield for the herd has continued to increase, the calving index has come down,” she added. Wholecrop wheat was ensiled in
a ‘sandwich’ between the first and second cut silages to allow access to all three crops. A switch to wholecrop barley has allowed a better quality second cut to be taken in July instead of August. The wholecrop balances the better quality silage and helps maintain butterfat and protein. The cattle have been grazed on a rotational, set-stocking system with fields divided into three paddocks. But to make more effective use of the grazing, Hugh has created five paddocks with an electric fence front and back, each providing two to three days of grazing. Next season a plate meter will be used to measure available grass and the aim is to provide fresh grazing after every milking with an electric ring fence.
Diet name ANIMAL DETAILS Milk yield (kg) Milk fat (g/100g) Milk protein (g/100g) Days calved FEEDING PLAN (kg as fed/head/d) Grass silage – big bale Grazing Straw Transform Dry Cow
0.0 0.0 0.0 340
0.0 0.0 0.0 340
32.0 2.0 2.0
18.0 2.0 2.0
Milking cow diets Wheelbirks Farm Diet name ANIMAL DETAILS Milk yield (kg) Milk fat (g/100g) Milk protein (g/100g) Days calved FEEDING PLAN (kg as fed/head/d) Grass silage 1st Grass silage 2nd Grass silage – big bale Whole crop barley Grazing Barley rolled QLF TMR 40 liquid feed Buttergold 18 compound Dynamic Plus 18 compound Mineral dairy Blend
26.0 5.8 4.0 50 13.0 8.0 12.0 1.5 1.5 6.5 0.1 1.5
26.0 5.8 4.0 50 3.0 62.0 6.5 0.1 -
Both diets are M+15 from the base then compound fed above this in the parlour.
GRASSLAND SUBSOILER Richard Hales Grassland Specialist
With spiraling input costs it makes financial sense to optimise the yield and quality of grassland production through better soil management. The Sumo Grassland Subsoiler (GLS) has been designed to our usual very high standard with features that give farmers the opportunity to do just that. In one pass it will alleviate structural compaction in the rooting zone, aerate the surface, remove and scatter any surface debris - leaving a soil environment conducive to maximum grass growth, leading to more vigorous crops better suited to withstand periods of prolonged rainfall or drought. Also, fitting a seeder on the GLS gives the opportunity to either rejuvenate or re-seed poorer growing areas. Farmers have been particularly impressed with the 'billiard table finish' that the GLS leaves, enabling livestock to be turned back out onto the field immediately afterwards.
A leading row of straight, serrated discs cut through the turf on individually suspended arms. The discs have adjustable depth positions, easily altered via a one-bolt system, allowing the Subsoiler legs easy entry into the pre-cut soil. The legs with a pin adjustable depth of 4”-14” deep and cut from 15mm Hardox 500, lift and fracture the earth. They are followed by a 508mm diameter packer. The shark fin design ensures important surface aeration across the full working width of the machine. A ring of packer teeth run directly behind each leg, closing up and firming the opening the leg has made and acting as a continuous grip to ensure the packer turns and drives in any conditions. The scarifying harrow disturbs and removes any dead vegetation - and is adjustable so can be moved out of position when not required.
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DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
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**DF Jan p24 New Prods
Heavy duty roller mills KELVIN Cave’s new heavy duty roller mills help boost output of traditional flat-rolled flaked grain. Available in two sizes providing an output of 20-40 tonnes per hour, these British designed and built machines can process all cereal grains and pulses with up to 25% moisture content. The Bruiser 1000 can process 20-30 tonnes per hour, while the larger Bruiser 1250 can process up to 40 tonnes per hour. Both machines can be equipped with grain preservative applicators and an on-board digital weighing system. To achieve its high output the Bruiser 1250 incorporates two 600mm diameter 858kg rollers requiring a minimum 120hp to operate. Each model is mounted on a robust trailer chassis and both models feature magnetic protection to remove ferrous debris. Prices start from £20,000. ■ Details on 01458 252 281.
New products New products are now featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send information and photographs to Jennifer MacKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01768 896 150.
New models add to range
griArgo has expanded its McCormick T-Max tractor range to five four-cylinder models from 74hp to 110hp. The extra versions have power outputs from the familiar Perkins 1104D-44 engine of 74hp, 83hp, 93hp, 102hp and 110hp. There is a new trans axle with a choice of synchro or power shuttle transmissions – Synchro Shuttle models come with the Speed Four Overdrive transmission, giving 24 speeds forward and 12 in reverse, using a mechanical high-low splitter.
The Power Shuttle transmission has a novel clutch sensitivity adjustment feature that alters the ‘bite’ characteristics of the main drive clutch and power shuttle clutch. It also provides greater threepoint linkage lift capacity – 4350kg versus 3700kg on the C-Max. Also, the tractors can be fitted with an 1800kg front linkage, with or without power take-off. Inside the four-post cab with roof window, air conditioning is fitted as standard. ■ Details on 01302 757 566 or www.agriargouk.com
Milk replacers PROVIMILK is a new range of five milk replacers from Provimi which have been shown to contribute to better calf performance in dairy and beef systems. Three ProviMilk products, Fastgro, Daisy and Elevator, are whey-based milks with high levels of dairy protein. Elevator is the top performing product designed for accelerated replacement heifer rearing. Fastgro is suited to early weaning systems, while Daisy gives strong performance in both dairy and beef calves. Based on skim milk, ProviMilk Prestige contains all dairy protein and has been shown to boost early growth rates. ProviMilk Professional uses a mix of dairy protein and non-milk proteins and offers high performance and costeffectiveness. ■ Details www.provimi.com
US number one type bull now available Bruisers from Kelvin Cave.
NEWS IN BRIEF Wormer pour on ■ Wormer Zermex 0.5% PourOn for Cattle has been authorised for use in adult dairy cows and is recommended for use in the management of pre-calving cows. For example if used in the close-to-calving or transition cow group, a few weeks pre-calving, there will be no loss of milk from the six-day withdrawal time and the response to treatment is maximised. Dosage is 1ml per 10kg bodyweight. The wormer is available from Downland franchisees, operating throughout the UK. ■ Details at www.downland. co.uk or call 0870 9101 112.
SEMEN from Regancrest S Braxton EX94, the US number one type bull in breed, is now available from World Wide Sires UK. The new graduate, also available sexed, is from a pedigree with type and production on both sides. He is by Picston Shottle out of the global phenomenon and former number one type cow, Regancrest PR Barbie EX92.
His US type figures stand at a massive +3.98, with breed leading feet and legs (+2.46). Fit for the showring, his daughters offer an unbeatable combination of stature, dairy strength and power. Transmitting exceptional chest width, body depth, rump width and udder support, he is said to be a great cross on Goldwyn pedigrees to produce world-class conformation.
Luck-E Braxton Pacific VG88. ■ Details on www.worldwide siresuk.com or 0800 161 3371.
Merlin milking system gets overhaul FULLWOOD’S fourth version of its Merlin automated milking system claims faster teat cup attachment and removal as well as improved cow comfort during the milking process. The new design also extends the service interval, as well as making the machine easier and cheaper to maintain and keep clean. The completely redesigned teat cup attachment arm has been
made lighter to create less wear on the main pivot points. It also features improved take-off cylinders and new vacuum shut-off valves for faster teat cup attachment and removal. The new arm features improved ergonomics, giving a greater range for improved teat cup alignment. The new design also provides better protection to the robot’s internal components for greater
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
reliability and longevity. To celebrate the new model, prices remain unchanged for 2012, and Fullwood is also offering a significant discount on all systems ordered up to February 29, 2012. ■ Details on 01691 627 391.
NOW in Farmers Guardian New store and breeding stock comparison tables More commercial sales coverage New, improved graphs and information The ONLY place for nationwide store and breeding stock averages
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
**DF Jan p26 27 Milk Prices
MILK PRICES NEWS IN BRIEF United auction
Milk Prices The Labour Saver
Milk price analyst Stephen Bradley comments on the latest milk industry developments.
■ United’s last milk auction for 2011 saw the average dip below 29ppl for the first time since Jul’11. With 46mltrs sold for delivery this month, the price was weaker by 0.51ppl (-1.73%) on last month. However, the price was still 1.53ppl (5.67%) above the average the previous year. The company has confirmed it has held its producer base milk price at 28.5ppl for Nov’11, making our standard litre for NI Co-op producers 28.81ppl.
Meadow Foods offers timely price increase Completely eliminates the back-aching In just 30 seconds the nosed-out silage tasks of forking ‘nosed out’ Silage along 200 feet of feed barrier is back back to the feed barrier. within easy reach of the feeding stock. Front or rear mounted models available Rear model is used in reverse to clear the way for the tractor wheels.
HARELAND ENGINEERING Telephone/Fax: (01323) 841227 www.harelandengineering.co.uk
n an extremely positive and timely move in trying to stabilise milk prices in early 2012, Meadow Foods announced last month it was increasing its producer milk price by 0.5ppl from Jan’12. This is not the first time the Chester-based company has taken the lead in spurring GB farmgate milk prices, and while Milk Link can stake a fair claim to be a driving force behind the recent price increases, MP.com recalls in 2007 and 2010 as commodity prices rose, Meadow was one of the first to make the early push. Despite cooling commodity prices, the company has added 0.5ppl to the existing 18.7ppl flat rate element of the company’s uncomplicated price schedule so the full increase goes to all producers. This takes our standard litre (4%b/f & 3.3% prot, bactoscans of
30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC) for Cheshire and the surrounding counties, and North and South Wales, up to 28.88ppl. Our manufacturing standard litre (4.3% b/f & 3.5% prot with the same hygiene, volume and collection) price rises to 29.36ppl. The company’s Cumbrian milk price is up 0.5ppl to 28.96ppl for our standard (including 12-month rolling profile payment of 0.58ppl). Our manufacturing standard will increase to 29.48ppl, up 1.57ppl on the previous 2008 highs. The company reported a strong lift in pre-tax profit over Christmas to £8.8m (2010: £5.5m) on sales up 14.3% to £301m (2010: £263m) for the year to Mar’11. As well as reducing net borrowings to £3.4m, the company claims to have invested £2.5m in increasing capacity and efficiencies at its manufacturing sites.
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SHORTLY after Meadow’s announcement, Milk Link members received confirmation their current milk price (last increased by 0.5ppl from Nov’11) would remain unchanged until at least the end of March this year. Citing the recent negative market talk on milk prices as not justified, Milk Link reported it was on track to achieve its year end forecasts, and having reviewed ongoing performance, as well as
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
prospects for the wider dairy market, the Milk Link Board felt it was possible to hold the milk price for the next three months. The company said it hoped this would provide members with much needed stability into the New Year, at a time when considerable financial pressures persist for dairy farmers, not to mention increasing the pressure on any milk buyer contemplating milk price cuts in early 2012.
**DF Jan p26 27 Milk Prices
MILK PRICES Sept’11 Oct’11
4.0/3.3 4.0/3.3 4.0/3.3 Ave Before Before
Seas’lty Seas’lty SAPP
D.C – M&S ∞
RWD – Tesco Scotland
RWD – Tesco England
Arla Foods – Tesco ••
D.C – Waitrose ∞^
D.C – Sainsbury’s
RWD – Sainsbury’s Central Scotland
RWD – Sainsbury’s England
Arla Foods – AFMP Sainsbury’s ••
Cadbury – Selkley Vale Milk
United Dairy Farmers ≠
Arla Foods – Asda••
D.C – Davidstow ∞
Caledonian Cheese Co – Profile ‡
Barber A.J & R.G
Wensleydale Dairy Products
Blackmore Vale Farm Cream
Milk Link Rodda’s ¢•
Robert Wiseman – The Co-op Dairy Group 28.07
Milk Link – London Liquid
Milk Link – West Country Liquid
Caledonian Cheese Co
Arla Foods – AFMP (Non-Aligned) ••
Robert Wiseman – Aberdeen
Robert Wiseman – Central Scotland
Robert Wiseman – England
Milk Link – Manufacturing ¢•
Saputo UK – Level supply #
D.C – Liquid Regional Premium ∞ ¶
Paynes Farms Dairies
Arla Foods – AFMP Standard ••
Meadow Foods – Seasonal
Meadow Foods Lakes ±
Saputo UK – seasonal #
Glanbia – Llangefni (flat)
Glanbia – Llangefni (Constituent)
Meadow Foods – Level
First Milk – Highlands & Islands §
D.C—Liquid Milk & More ∞ ¶
First Milk – Liquid §
First Milk – Cheese §
First Milk Balancing §
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 and MDC levies. SAPP= Seasonally Adjusted Profile Price. (i) Sept’11 prices before seasonality. (ii) Oct’11 prices before seasonality. (iii) Seasonally adjusted profile price for Oct’11 taking into account monthly seasonality payments and profiles of supply. ** Seasonal adjusted profile supply for 1mltr supplier (using monthly RPA figures) for Oct’11 =2672ltrs/day, flat supply=2740ltrs/day. (iv) Table ranked on the seasonally adjusted price for the 12mths to Oct’11. § SAPP reflects 80% of producer’s previous year’s daily average volume (2,269ltrs/day) paid as a core price with the remaining marginal volume (403ltrs/day for Oct’11) priced at 140% of the core price for Oct’11. ¢ SAPP reflects 2726ltrs (Aug to Dec’10 daily average) paid as ‘A’ ltrs with the remaining ‘B’ ltrs paid at 130% of the ‘A’ price (ie constituents plus Market Related Adjustment) for Oct’11. • No ‘B’ litres/day applicable for Oct’11 with daily volume of 2672ltrs/day being below the ‘A’ volume of 2726ltrs. 0.5ppl production bonus for Milk Link & First Milk not applicable in the seasonal price due to Oct’11 daily production below that of Oct’10 based on RPA monthly figures. •• No balancing charge for Oct’11. ∞ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 1.21ppl to Oct’11 (n/c from the previous month). Milk & More 12mth rolling profile payment also 1.21ppl. ∞^ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.57ppl to Oct’11 (n/c on previous month). # Constituent payments priced by volume. ≠ Seasonality built into monthly base price. Arla Foods – AFMP Standard reflects price before the addition of 0.25ppl Non-Aligned Farm Premium. ¶ Price includes 0.4ppl Regional Premium. ‡ Non-seasonal price includes 12mth average rolling profile 0.63ppl to Oct’11 (unchanged on previous month). Tesco milk prices include the 0.5ppl bonus for co-operation with Promar costings. Milkprices.com cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright: Milkprices.com
Two ways to better Grassland next Spring
“Swards look greener and healthier after sward lifting.” Derek Garrett, Park Mill Farms, Thornbury, Bristol
OPICO SWARD LIFTER Removing the compaction and improving the soil structure of clay soils in autumn has helped enhance grass root development and water drainage. Our cows now benefit from an earlier turnout which in turn helps lower my feed costs. Comparing fields that had not been sward lifted with those that had, quickly convinced me that sward lifting should become a routine operation. The difference is remarkable.
“Our pastures are providing far more forage.”
ME Bell, Thornborough Farm, Corbridge, Northumberland
OPICO SWARD SLITTER A spring and autumn pass with the OPICO SWARD SLITTER to alleviate compaction in the topsoil caused by her 1,600 sheep has significantly improved the quality of grassland, says Julie Brown, flock shepherd at Thornborough Farm. Aerating the soil has improved nutrient uptake and prevented water logging. Digging a soil profile has revealed a better soil structure with better grass root growth and a vast reduction of soil mottling. The flock is also benefiting from better quality pastures which helps maintain our stocking rate and supports outdoor lambing.
Profit from our knowledge See a video of them in action visit www.opico.co.uk OPICO Ltd, Bourne, Lincs. Tel: 01778 421111. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
**DF Jan p28 Workshop Tips
Cutting frame means logs ready in no time Some of the weekly jobs like cutting firewood tend to get left until the log pile is depleted. Mike Donovan gives us a simple idea to make the job quicker.
he busy dairy farmer never has the time to sit down and list his jobs in order of priority. In fact, he never gets time to sit down, and when he does he falls asleep. Priorities never seem to change and usually start with the cows, then the youngstock, followed by machinery, any staff or helpers, and after these the person who looks after the house. A farmer’s wife was describing her life on radio, and she told the world things improved when she came to terms with the fact her place in the household pecking order was after the cows, machinery and dogs, but before the poultry and garden. Despite equal rights and feminism, the order of priority seems to have changed little and chores concerned with the household languish down on the list and get done when they can be fitted in or when the demand reaches an
Mike is a respected machinery columnist who gives us useful tips on building or modifying our own farm equipment. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.farmideas.co.uk
With this simple holding frame the timber can be cut in just a few minutes and makes a potentially dangerous job safer. irresistible crescendo. Sourcing good heavy timber which needs a log splitter and 18in chain bar is the job which needs planning and is better done in the summer when the land is dry. Using lighter branches is the kind of job which can be done on more of a
last minute schedule – which is what the job has become. Fewer farms these days use circular saws which demand a team of two or more, partly because the manpower is not there and partly because such saws are considered dangerous. So the logging job tends to be done for 15 minutes with a pile close to the ground and stacked so you can never tell whether the blade is going to be pinched or not.
Safer and faster
The upright goal posts need welding securely to the angle iron base.
This simple limbing frame which I saw on an Exmoor farm makes a potentially dangerous job safer and faster. The farmer got the idea from an issue of Farm Ideas, but improved on it considerably. The original was a series of stakes driven into the ground, and cross posts nailed in place so the frame was static and not half as long as
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
this steel construction. Neither did the original have as many supports or the spacing which makes it possible to cut each length into logs without having to put the saw down. The Exmoor frame is a series of steel rugby posts welded to an angle iron base on the floor – notice the long bars across the ends which prevents it tipping sideways. The cutting sequence depends on the length and size of logs, but the goal post design means there is no steel in the way when making downward cuts, and the logs drop out of the way. The goal posts need to be welded securely to the angle base frame, and the joints might be improved by adding some small triangular gussets as the sideways force from the stack of logs can be considerable. The frame makes use of smaller branches which means you do not need to pick up the axe to split the firewood, and represents yet another saving on time. ■ Practical Farm Ideas helps cut costs on dairy farms. Visit www.farmideas.co.uk or call 01994 240 978.
FG House Reg WP DF
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www.colinburnell.co.uk DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
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**DF Jan p32 Evans
Please keep your hands off my heifer feed blocks This month Roger Evans has not only had someone take his heifer feed blocks from the field but to top it all his wallet has gone missing, and he is left wondering just who you can trust.
hristmas will have been and gone when you read this, but as I pen it in December I have to say what a very mild November we’ve just had with the result we now have more grass than we’ve had for six months. I went on to the fields where the cows graze and there was enough grass there that, if the cows were still out, it would have lasted them a month if I electric fenced it. So I put 15 in-calf heifers on it and it will easily keep them until after Christmas. There’s another 20 acres on our away ground and the grass there is a foot high, but I have 30 dry cows there. I know they should be on a high fibre dry cow diet to take them through to their next lactation, but silage stocks are tightish and these cows are so contented they don’t want to move anyway. Some of what I am about to write is not a proper article so I apologise in advance for that. It has been a feature of my life thus far that I am always tired. Most dairy farmers will empathise with that. To start with I get up early on Saturdays and Sundays, around three o’clock, and I won’t go in to all the reasons for that now, but one of them is that I won’t be beaten. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time I manage to grab in the chair at the weekend this leaves me tired until about Tuesday. I try to live a normal life and normal for me includes going to the pub. I’m the only dairy farmer that gets in there and the other farmers who go are never in any rush to go home, and I won’t be beaten by that either, so I get late nights, and unfortunately these often coincide with my early mornings. “You wouldn’t be so tired if you didn’t go to the pub so often.” That’s not me saying that, but no prizes for guessing who!
And then, when I do get some There was only one bunch of sleep, there are my dreams. I have heifers belonging to a neighbour long, bizarre dreams that often that had to go and he hasn’t leave me exhausted. I once spoken to me since. The bank dreamt the Conservatives had manager questioned the need for their party conference in the shed me to go back in to milk after it on our yard and I got all died down, quite friendly with which is bank that Norman Tebbit. manager speak So I often wake up, for “I’ve got So once again I wake still tired, recollect the most of your up exhausted, a social detail of a dream I’d overdraft back leper, and once again I just had, and wonder and I think I’ll to myself, whatever hang on to it”. I wonder whatever drove that? helped with the drove that? Last night I dreamt clear-up we had of all things operation and foot-and-mouth. The detail and spent a lot of time wondering how the sequence of events about with an empty knapsack developed was quite extrasprayer on my back and getting ordinary. It started with an off £15 an hour for it. There were no colour cow I went back out to further outbreaks but I stayed have a look at. It was so much home for two months, caught up worse that I phoned the vet and on my sleep and watched all the even at that point I thought it ends of those films I’d viewed can’t be, but it was. After that the over the years but had never seen detail unfolded – the confirmthe endings because it was either ation, the choice of auctioneer to time to go out to milk or go to do the valuation (I chose that big bed. After two months I went auctioneer from Beeston), and my eagerly to the pub, but the other concern that if this was to be a farmers got their heads together long outbreak would cattle values and asked the landlord to ask me rocket and mine be off the pace. to leave. The source of the I’d got cattle at three locations outbreak was a mystery but put and we had to have three fires. down to starlings. So once again I
DAIRY FARMER JANUARY 2012
wake up exhausted, a social leper, and once again I wonder whatever drove that? Hope it was just a dream and not an omen! My wife was writing her Christmas cards last night. She pushed a pile towards me. “Those are yours to do”. They are the ones that came last year, she says, that were for me. I look through them and they are either from people I know from the dairy industry or mutual friends who happen to have attractive wives. She did all this last year and I put them all in the bin. I didn’t send a single card. So if you sent me a card this year or last and didn’t have one in return, it’s because I’ve stopped doing cards. Instead I send £150 to a charity which operates on children with cleft palates. I hope this will enable a child somewhere to smile for the rest of its life, not just at Christmas. I felt quite good about sending that money but it doesn’t mean I don’t like you all. Between Christmas and New Year I’ve got half the village doing a pram race for the same cause. There’s a fair chance I won’t send any ever again but I wouldn’t send any to those farmers who got me kicked out of the pub when I had footand-mouth anyway. Well I have to say there’s giving and then there’s taking away. In the week I got my Single Payment, and incidentally that is very good, I put a new feed block out for eight heifers just by the gate, in the dry, under a tree. Next day it was gone. On Saturday I went to Cardiff to watch the rugby and someone borrows my wallet from my back pocket. There’s quite a lot in it as I’ve supplied tickets to some friends and they paid in cash. Of course I could have mislaid it but I don’t think so. But it’s the loss of the feed block that really annoys me. It’s all about trust really. What next, will it be the heifers?
Delaval WP DF
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