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DAIRY October 2016


UK Dairy Day

Michael Oakes on EU reduction scheme Pages 52-58 Volume 63 Issue 10


Robots help reduce costs on Welsh unit

Pages 10-13


Benefits of purpose built calf housing Pages 20-21


Launch of dynamic energy feed concept Pages 32-51

MILK PRICES Pages 60-62

Tip of the month: Rethink your cow ration formulation – p32

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a word from the



nyone keeping half a weather eye on the GDT and other trade indicators will be amazed by how markets have rocketed over the past couple of months and, after the dreadful mire we’ve been stuck in, you would think everyone would be cock-o-hoop. Not so. With cream in the stratosphere at £1.70 and butter and cheese firmly in the £3000 a tonne territory, producers are rightly astounded by why they are not seeing more in their milk cheques and starting to wonder whether their turn will ever come. Many are in desperate plights with the margin-pinched non-aligned still hanging in at the 20ppl mark and desperate to get back on a more even keel before the winter feed round starts to bite. It’s the classic one-sided quick-drop, slow-rise scenario but exacerbated this time by the fact that processors, in the main, have sold forward at depressingly give-away prices. In essence they have been taken by complete surprise by the fall in volumes and soaring prices and were totally unprepared for it. Producers are quite rightly getting

angry as they bridle at their second-class status and are starting to question just what is going on here. The trouble is while processors set about restoring their own books first, it means the economic impact of the protracted downturn for many producers persists unabated, pushing them to question their very future in the industry. Milk volumes are almost certain to decline further and next year’s supplies are likely to be below processor requirements, and that is before the EU’s reduction scheme, with its 12p carrot for milk foregone, starts to bite. Processors could soon start to bemoan the lack of milk and the impact it will have on their businesses, but perhaps they should ask themselves whether they shouldn’t be doing a bit more now to help avert this situation!

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OCTOBER 2016 **DF Oct p1 Leader.indd 1


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CONTENTS October Volume 63 Issue 10


Loire drought

22-23 Comment


4-6 8-9 14-15 70-71

16-18 60-62 66 72

Latest news Cowmen Comment Potter’s View Good Evans

French maize seed growers face ongoing drought

Breeding Milk Prices Workshop tips Finance

Grain crimping

New technique Using stripper header should help make grain crimping more attractive

24-26 2


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Special feature


Prospects for maize, outwintering heifers, plus how milk records can reveal diet secrets

New products

Dairy marketplace 64-65

Workshop Tips

Heat stress

Mike Donovan offers advice on installing fans

Latest new products in the dairy sector


OCTOBER 2016 **DF Oct p2 3 Contents.indd 3


3 16/09/2016 12:34

NEWS News in brief Delayed milk price

JDelays in milk price rises could mean processors are reducing their supply base to ’dangerously low levels’. In a joint statement, NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers Union said despite the turn in the market, with actual milk price equivalent and milk for cheese value equivalent indicators up 24% this month, recent price increases did not go far enough to support struggling farmers. While Farmers for Action chairman David Handley agreed price rises had been too slow, he criticised the unions’ response to the upturn.

NFUS price talks

JNFU Scotland met with George Eustice, Defra Secretary, to discuss concerns over milk prices. The union informed Mr Eustice recent milk price increases from processors have not gone far enough to assist milk producers. Graeme Kilpatrick, NFUS dairy committee chairman, said they had discussed the issues which prevent the industry from ‘being sustainable and viable’.

Market soars but prices lag behind


ommodity markets are continuing to soar with butter and cheese at £3500 and £3000 a tonne respectively, and all of the forward and futures prices returning farmgate equivalents of between 25p and 30p. AMPE is now officially 26p for August, and MCVE 28p. Dairy Crest Direct’s brilliant but soon to be axed formula has increased on the back of cream at £1.70, to a price of 27p for October. In contrast, and thanks to the

processors forward selling at prices well below current ones, most farmgate milk prices are only staggering up by 1-2ppl at a time. Although some companies have increased for four months consecutively now, their prices are still hovering around the 20-22p level, and well below the prices that should be being received. For example, the cream income to a processor is now at around 9p – the highest since December 2013. Although it has been historically higher, the ratio of the cream income to the milk

US farmers face $52m culling fine JFarmers in the US have always culled cows when the milk price is low, but now an organised scheme has landed them in hot water to the tune of $52m. A successful anti-trust lawsuit was brought by the animal protection group Compassion Over Killing against the National Milk Producers Federation and co-operatives Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’ Lakes, DairyLea and Agrimark.

The settlement means anyone who purchased dairy products in one of several states between 2003 and 2011 could be entitled to a payout. The suit said the co-operatives’ ‘Working Together’ group, organised by NMPF, brought in a herd retirement program between 2003 and 2010 which bought out herds of cattle for slaughter and, in so doing, increased consumer milk prices.

New measures rolled out on bovine TB JDefra has announced further measures to tackle bovine TB, with seven additional wildlife licences for badger control issued to parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. A consultation has also been issued on introducing further cattle measures, including more sensitive tests for TB-affected herds in the high risk area, and increased surveillance testing for herds in the edge area. There are also new advice



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packs to help farmers affected by bovine TB to improve biosecurity measures, and an updated online tool mapping the location of bovine TB incidents over the last five years has been introduced ‘to allow farmers to make informed decisions when buying livestock’. Results The Government insists its strategy is delivering results and more than half the country is on track to be free of the disease by

the end of the Parliament. Chief vet Nigel Gibbens said: “Action to prevent infection of cattle from significant reservoirs of TB infection in local badger populations is an essential part of the Government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England. Proactive badger control is currently the best available option, and the licensing of further areas is necessary to realise disease control benefits at regional rather than at local levels.”

price is at an all time record 45%. Normally the cream income is around 25% of the milk cheque. Global prices Global prices are also increasing, with the GDT posting an increase for the third consecutive month, which took the average prices to just below $3000 for the first time since March 2014. The average price has risen nearly 30% in just six weeks now. The GDT forward prices and southern hemisphere futures prices are also returning around 22-25ppl.

Dairy time bomb ticking JThe younger generation are not consuming as much dairy as the older generation, and a ‘demographic time bomb’ is going to explode if the European dairy industry does not do something about it. This is according to David Dobbin, chairman of Dairy UK, speaking at the 67th annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science in Belfast. Dr Dobbin said: “If current trends are repeated when the young enter the next generations, then there will be a sharp fall-off in dairying (due to lack of demand) and that is something we have to try and address now.” AHDB is currently working on a promotional campaign with Dairy UK, with a budget of £3.5m for the next three years. However the idea was to get that match funded by the EU – something that the Brexit vote will materially affect.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 09:56


Muller Liquid Formula rise JFuelled by bulk cream prices now steaming towards the previous record high of £1.80/kg set in Jun’11, the Muller/Direct Milk Liquid formula is confirmed to increase by a further 1.247ppl for Oct’16, taking the total level of price increases seen in the last three months to 2.87ppl, according to With just three months of further price changes to go before the formula is terminated at the end of Jan’17, it is onwards and upwards for this price to go out on a high. The Oct’16 increase takes our liquid standard litre for the Liquid Core Formula up from 26.20ppl to 27.45ppl. This price captures the 0.19ppl Apr’14 sign on premium as well as being based on our rolling 12-month profile payment of 1.27ppl at the time of Apr’14 uptake, and now locked at 1.15ppl since Apr’15 to deliver a price of 27.33ppl. This is 8.14ppl above our latest Muller Direct Milk standard non-aligned price.

EU milk reduction scheme


he first application for the EU’s compensation scheme for reducing milk volumes formally opened and then closed on September 21. Officially called the EU’s Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme, the aid package will pay farmers 14 euro cents per litre (12p) for milk they agree not to produce this year compared to last year. The scheme will operate for an initial three months period this October, November and December, and further periods will open until the €150m budget is spent. Each farmer will have to commit to a supply cut from a minimum of 1450 litres to a maximum ceiling of 50% of last year’s volume. Those

Don’t forget...

who are planning to quit are still eligible for the money, up to the maximum 50%. Each farmer will have to tender a set volume, and there will be penalties for failing to reduce production for the amount tendered. Proof will be required, so following the end of the chosen three-month period there is a 45-day submission period to provide the necessary evidence. If the full €150m allocated for the scheme is claimed it will remove just over 1m tonnes from the market. n The RPA is to administer the scheme, and further details are available from milk-production-reduction-schemehow-to-apply

Pressure on unpasteurised dairy following death JAccording to trade magazine The Grocer, pressure is growing on the sale of unpasteurised dairy products following the death of a child due to an E coli outbreak that has been linked by Food Standards

officials to the unpasteurised cheese Dunsyre Blue, made by Errington Cheese in Lanarkshire. The outbreak affected 20 people, but Errington Cheese strongly denies any liability,

insisting the E coli tests on its product were negative. However, it did instigate a product recall, and following this another cheese produced by the company was also in the firing line – Lanark white.

JJoin us at our Speakers Corner at the Dairy Show, Bath & West Showground, when our distinguished panel will be looking at the future for milk. Our panel this year comprises David Handley (Farmers for Action chairman), Michael Oakes (NFU board chairman) and Mike Houghton (Andersons Consultants). See you there at 11am, Wednesday, October 5, at the Dairy Farmer/Farmers Guardian stand. Don’t miss it.

Search for new Scottish processor JFollowing Muller’s decision to close its Aberdeen dairy and charge a 1.75p transport fee to its nonaligned farmers in the region, the private sector economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeenshire Council have agreed to carry out further work to attract processing investment in the region. The work will ‘examine the specific investment opportunities with the aim of securing a long term future for the local dairy sector’. A number of milk processing businesses are reported to be interested in investing in the area.

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NEWS News in brief Muller increases

JDirect Milk DPO members will receive their first increase to the standard litre price in almost three years. From October it will increase by 1.189ppl taking the standard litre price to 19.189ppl excluding supplementary payments. This includes the first stage of price harmonisation (after eight months since the Dairy Crest sale to Muller) between the two supplying groups. On average, Muller is increasing the price by 1ppl.

First Milk upgrades

JFirst Milk has upgraded its September milk price. The adjusted price increases for September are now between 1ppl and 1.67ppl with an additional 0.25ppl Business Supplement Payment due to stronger than budgeted business performance.

Bull stud listing

JLast month’s genomic bull PLI table seemed to succumb to digital gremlins with the bull studs incorrectly listed. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and publish the full listing with the respective studs below.

Meadow Foods sells shares to New York


eadow Foods has sold a majority stake in its business to New Yorkbased equity firm and agricultural investment business Paine and Partners ‘to support its strategy to grow the business through organic expansion and acquisitions’. The Pickering family, who had 35% of Meadow’s shareholding exit the business in their entirety, and the Chantler family, who had

65% of it, remain as ‘a substantial’ shareholder, but not a majority one. Paine and Partners says there are no plans to change the management or the broad structure of the business. No price for the deal has been announced. Dexter Paine, chairman and chief executive of Paine and Partners, says: “We see opportunities to drive growth both organically by increasing production, enhancing capabilities and expanding into

Milk volumes track lower JMilk volumes are continuing to track lower than last year, by around 6.5% for August. The total of the daily production figures for August came in at 1131.8m litres, which was down 78.82m litres (6.51%) on last year and 46.00m litres (3.91%) down on two years ago. Cumulatively we have now

produced 6073m litres, which is 379.21m (5.88%) lower than last year and 182.85m (2.92%) lower than two years ago. One of the main reasons for this is compound feed usage for dairy is down significantly on last year. For the last 12-month period, compound usage is down 6.4%.

new product lines and markets, and through strategic acquisitions that leverage the company’s supply network and customer relationships.” This fuelled further speculation that the Meadow investment will be the first of many acquisitions – possibly with a view to creating the UK’s third biggest dairy company. Inevitably the speculation has already linked what remains of Dairy Crest to the asset rich company.

Genus joint venture

JGenus ABS has announced a joint venture with Iowa-based De-Su Holsteins with the intention of setting up a common breeding program using the best genetics from each stud. This should then be the source of an elite range of Holstein bulls which would further strengthen Genus’ global marketing arm, the firm said.

Dairy Crest Centre on innovation shortlist

JThe innovation partnership and £4m investment between Harper Adams University and Dairy Crest has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Innovative Contribution to Busi-

ness-University Collaboration’ category in the Times Higher Education Awards 2016. Mark Allen, chief executive of Dairy Crest, said: “By locating the

Innovation Centre on the Harper Adams University campus, we are building a partnership with a centre of excellence in food, farming and science education.”

Top 10 Holstein bulls with genomic indexes ranked on Profitable Lifetime Index, August 2016 Rank £PLI Bull name


kg kg kg % %







Maint TM


Supplier GB/NI



Progenesis Unicorn











Altaspring x Tango




Dg Charley











Supershot x Mogul




S-S-I 1stclass Flagship











Alta1stclass x Supersire




Seagull-Bay-Mj Applejax











Supershot x Numero Uno




Bush-Bros Deify











Supershot x Mogul




Triplecrown Gatedancer











Alta1stclass x Supersire




Apina Nadal











Bouw Rocky x Goliath




Mr Pre Director











Predestine x Robust




Peak Altatrueshot











Supershot x McCutchen




Co-Op Aardema Black Jack 546










Supershot x Numero Uno


AIS = AI Services; ALT = Alta; BUL =; GEN = Genus ABS; KSS = Kingstreet Sires; SMX = Semex; WWS = World Wide Sires; SRL = Sterling Sires. £PLI = Profitable Lifetime Index; FI = Fertility Index; LS = Lifespan Index; SCC = Somatic Cell Count Index; Maint = Maintenance; TM = Type Merit.



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TIM Gibson Tim Gibson farms in Bedale, North Yorkshire, milking 200 commercial cows and 85 pedigree Guernseys under contract for ice cream, with four Lely robots. Tim also runs a separate dairy engineering and supplies business from the farm.

I dont know what it cost but they certainly meant business



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have just returned from a holiday to New York and the East Coast of the US. A wellearned break I would like to say, yet, as the current milk price dictates, the earnings used to pay for it were not realised from dairy. In fact they were from the spoils from a litter of pups last winter which was taken from me to treat us all to the getaway. We dumped a heap of cash on the travel agent’s desk and asked them to see what they had got. Cries of horror came from neighbours and friends saying: “How on earth can you go away in harvest,” and “I thought the milk price was bad?” A holiday was needed, and it’s essential. On coming home to a heap of emails and questions, I can gladly say the lads have done well and the farm has gone on fine (if not better) without me around. Harvest was about finished before I went as drought dried the wheat up, so it was cut and the straw mostly all baled prior to my break. Farming and especially dairy is a tough job, and at a tough time for many, and getting away from thinking solely of cows is a must even to just take stock of what you are doing and look back in from the outside, without day to day issues consuming your mind. I have always wanted to visit New York, even more so since 911. I am a bit of a film fan and seeing so many of the American movies based in New York attracted me to seeing the place where many of them were set. Most of the main attractions can be seen in about four days, so we also visited some foodie markets

and saw outlets for international cheeses, but none from the UK. We stayed in Times Square and I was shocked to see one of the huge plasma screens showing an advert for PETA to go vegan all day for most of the days we were there. I don’t know what it cost but they certainly meant business. Such headliners as ‘Which calf should die for your cheese?’ and ‘Male calves are killed as babies because they don’t produce milk’ hit you in the eye with pictures of calves underneath, and with another promotion board next to it saying “Be fair be” TV channels Another advertising shock to me were the milk and the KFC chicken adverts on main TV channels. Their milk was promoted as ‘hormone free milk’ and KFC chicken was advertised as being made with ‘antibiotic free chickens’ – and these were opening comments in the advert. A different marketing angle to what we would do, and it really felt strange hearing hormone free milk being promoted on main screen TV. Hopefully they will keep the need for advertising like this in the States, but as with most things on big screens in America, it’s probably not long before we see it here. Running a flying herd for our black-andwhites has been working well since switching over about four years ago. The coming year looks good for the ability to find replacements. As the popularity of robotic milking has grown, so too has the number of cows avail-

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The pro-vegan advertising in Times Square (above) and one of the Guernsey cows fitted with a Smartbow tag (right).

Farm facts rFarm size: 350 acres rCows: 200 plus 85 contracted rMilk: 8000 litres B/W and 7000 (Channel Island herd) rSoil: Mostly stones and sand rRainfall average: 24in rMilk buyer: Paynes Dairies.

able to buy either from over-stocked herds or those quitting. I have tended to buy ‘robot trained’ cows this last year as they just walk straight into the system and know what to do without further training. Conventional buyers are slightly scared of robot herds from the point of concern they are not parlour trained and are more likely to kick when nearly finished, or be more uneven bagged due to individual quarter milking on robots. Mostly they are not and will readily get back into parlour routine, but it causes some buyer concerns. Heat detection To update you on my new heat detection system, we are seeing really fascinating information and using it to our benefit. An example was our ventilation system. We thought it wasn’t great in the Guernsey’s building but

when we monitored the time cows spent in a congested area close to the open end of the shed, we thought we had to do something. So we are installing fans to improve that based on what the system has shown us already. Bulling and rumen activity is being used well and at the moment the Guernsey group is all served up to date with no eligible cows not served. Being able to find the cow you need without searching through every last one is a big saving on time too. I certainly feel it’s going to be a ‘must have’ accessory of the future. Human ‘fit bits’ are for now becoming more affordable in terms of cost and more companies are bringing them out, so I would expect this form of simple yet effective technology to become normal on most farms in the coming years.

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9 15/09/2016 15:59

ON FARM Robotic milking is allowing a Welsh family farm to increase cow numbers in their fully-housed system and reduce the labour bill by up to £2500 a month. Debbie James reports.

Robots to the rescue for South Wales dairy herd


he Evans family had been milking its high yielding Holstein herd three times a day in a 12-unit auto-tandem parlour at Treddiog Fach, near Mathry, Pembrokeshire, but staffing those milkings was a challenge both financially and physically. When that parlour was installed 12 years ago they had been milking 110 cows but numbers had steadily increased to the current 210. John Evans, who farms with his wife Janet, sons Ben and Carl, and daughter-in-law Sian, says: “It was too slow for the

number of cows we had. There needed to be two people in the parlour to keep it at full capacity which made it very expensive because we were milking at 6am, 2pm and 9.30pm.” So earlier this year they decided to overcome this problem and installed four robots, removing surplus stalls from two cubicle sheds to accommodate the machines. The robots are leased from Lely on a seven-year agreement at £188/day for the four machines. The option of the lease with all consumables and servicing included, effectively fixing milking costs for the next seven

years, is what drew the Evans’s to leasing instead of purchasing the machines outright. A target has been set for an 1800-litre output per machine per day, which works out at 2.6 pence per litre. Option At the end of the lease period, the Evans’ have the option of having four new machines and continuing with the payments, buying them at the market value or keeping the machines and paying a reduced monthly sum. The biggest benefit to the business from making the switch is reducing the labour costs.

John Evans says the labour bill has significantly reduced since installing the robots.



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Cows are fed up to 12kg of concentrates in the robots every 24 hours and 5kg is added to the TMR, which is fed twice a day.

“Our labour bill had been high because we were milking three times a day, but this has reduced considerably,’’ says John. The herd had been achieving a daily milk yield average of 32 litres, with milk supplied to Glanbia. They would expect to see this maintained or increased in the robotic system but, to counter low milk prices, a decision was made to reduce feed inputs and therefore yields have fallen slightly. The herd is currently producing an average yield of 30 litres, with the top performers hitting more than 55 litres. The plan is to increase cow numbers in the year-round calving herd from the current 210 – 180 milkers – to 240. “Each robot can handle 2000 litres a day so, on our system, that’s around 55 cows,’’ says Ben. The cows needed little training to convert to automatic milking because the concept is similar to that of the auto-tandem parlour.

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 14:59

ON FARM “The cows had been used to individual stalls so they took to the robots straight away,’’ says Ben. “Heifers need a bit of training. We usually have to send them through for up to three days before they take to it.’’ Cows milk an average of three to four times in 24 hours, although some will return up to six times – the maximum number of milkings per cow the robot is programmed to allow. “If the robot thinks a cow has less than 10 litres of milk it won’t milk her,’’ says John. Every cow is milked at least twice in 24 hours – the computer system flags up any that don’t achieve that. In the previous system, hygiene was paramount, with every cow foamed and wiped before milking, so the Evans’s were concerned the robots might not allow for the same attention to detail. But this level has been maintained with the

Ready, steady,

Bactoscan reading stable at 14. Somatic cell count readings have also been static at around 150,000 cells/100ml. “We’ve never had any major problems with mastitis and this has been the case in the robots,’’ explains Ben. Cubicle housing Cubicle housing is divided into two – one of the sheds was built earlier this year – with enough stalls for 250 cows. When the new shed was designed the family had not considered robotic milking, but removing stalls to accommodate the machines has still left 114 cubicle places on each side. There are 100kW solar panels on the roof of the new shed to provide some of the farm’s power needs and to export 50kW to the National Grid. Three phase electricity was installed at the same time. One reason cows are housed all year round is the limited land


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ON FARM base at Treddiog Fach. Two blocks of land are farmed eight miles apart with 44ha (108 acres) at Treddiog Fach and 35ha (87 acres) on another farm near Haverfordwest. A further 13ha (33 acres) is rented for growing silage. The size of the grazing platform would be insufficient to carry the number of cows in the herd. The soil is also a heavy clay. “We would poach every field if we grazed the herd,’’ John adds. Zero grazing Instead, they use a system of zero grazing on 11ha (27 acres) with fresh grass added to the TMR. Grass is cut once a day from April to October – eight tonnes a day for 180 milkers, about 10kg DM/cow/day. Carl says the secret of zero grazing is to cut the grass when it is no longer than eight inches as if it goes any higher it loses its digestibility. “We are not cutting

Sian Evans with the calves which are reared in individual hutches until they are weaned.

silage – when you feed grass fresh it needs to be young.’’ As soon as the grass is cut and carted, slurry is applied to reduce the amount of artificial fertiliser needed. Only two applications at 75kg/hectare (60 units/acre) of straight nitrogen have been applied so far this season. Earlier in the season only fresh grass is included with

wholecrop and blend in the TMR but, as quality varies later in the year, silage is included. “It gives a more stable diet,’’ says John. Cows are fed up to 12kg of concentrates in the robots every 24 hours and 5kg is added to the TMR, which is fed twice a day. Up to five cuts of silage are harvested annually by contract-

ors. Twenty-two acres of fodder beet is also being grown this year. “We needed a high energy feed to add to the TMR. We had been buying it from a local grower but he isn’t growing it this year,’’ says John. The herd is pedigree – the prefix is Treddiog. Cows, from mostly Alta sires, are bred for type with a focus on udders, legs

It’s Here… A new way to protect her potential and your future

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15/09/2016 14:59

ON FARM and feet. “Good udders are particularly important in a robotic system, as those that don’t have good udders need assistance,’’ declares John. Pregnancy rate The pregnancy rate is 23% with 2.3 straws used per service, and the calving index is running at 381 days. The replacement rate is 21% and these are generated from homebred heifers. When calves are born they are given a paste to protect them against rotavirus and 2.5 litres of a colostrum replacement within 30 minutes of birth. Sian, who is responsible for calf rearing and also works fulltime for the agricultural supply co-operative, Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers, favours a colostrum replacer because it eliminates the risk of Johne’s. “Milk buyers are getting more keen on this and we know that

the calves are getting a good quality colostrum,’’ she says. The paste and the colostrum work out at about £26 per calf. Calves are reared in individual hutches until they are weaned at between 42-60 days. At their peak, they get 150g of powder per litre in six litres of water. After weaning, calves are transferred to pens and fed straw and cake and, at six months, silage and straw. Heifers calve at twoand-a-half years. Bull calves are fed milk discarded from the robots, on a teat bar and sold at the local livestock market at three weeks. John says the family’s quality of life has improved since the robots were introduced but added: “You can’t just install robots and expect to do nothing, they take quite a lot of managing. “No new system works perfectly straight away – we expect to see the real benefits about 12 months down the line.’’

The Lely robot pushes up silage to the cows several times a day.

Helps restore her natural immunity During the time around calving, dairy cows suffer an immunity dip. This leaves them vulnerable to key transition diseases (such as mastitis) and you facing stress, frustration and disruption of your day-to-day farm management. When cows suffer a dip in immunity around calving, Imrestor™ assists the natural immune system by restoring the function and increasing the number of neutrophils.

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Use medicines responsibly. Always seek advice on the correct use of this or alternative medicines from the medicine prescriber. In the UK Imrestor POM-V contains pegbovigrastim. For side effects, precautions, warnings and contra indications refer to product packaging and leaflets. For further information, see Summary of Product Characteristics. For further information, contact Elanco Animal Health, Priestley Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG24 9NL Tel: (01256 353131) Imrestor, Elanco and the diagonal bar are trademarks owned or licensed by Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries or affiliates. ©2016 Elanco Animal Health UKDRYIRS00032c Apr 16

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15/09/2016 15:00


IANPotter This month, Ian Potter issues a warning to our milk processors that they ought to start facing up to bridging the growing chasm between commodity and farmgate prices or they could find themselves short of milk and, secondly, questions whether the make-up of certain dairy boards is as fully representative as it should be.

It’s no wonder farmers are beyond furious and looking at taking the EU’s 12ppl volume reduction payment



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everal milk purchasers are concerned as to when UK milk production will turn the corner and head north again from its 7% decline against last year. I am sure there are a dozen theories as to why production is dropping, but top of the list by a country mile is this one: simply a crap and unjust milk price for the bulk of producers! And a price that is being paid at a time when the cream income alone has soared to record highs. The upward trend in prices has been on-going and obvious since April and farmers are right to be screaming for significant farmgate price increases. But expectations and trust are being wrecked because there is a monumental disconnect between the farmgate price and commodity prices. With a milk price around or under 20p for some still – when they should be 25 to 28p – it is no wonder farmers are beyond furious and looking at taking the EU’s 12ppl volume reduction payment. Others will persist in culling cows if only to pay bills, as most continue to suffer in silence. Less milk means less work, less bills and more money. I mean, why would anyone produce expensive winter milk for such a pittance? The fact is milk purchasers can and should be paying more right now and prices should reflect the seismic improvement in the markets. The UK is milking fewer cows and next time a milk purchaser, organisation, consultant etc. tells you to invest and expand for a better life-

style challenge them because this has resulted in the opposite this time, for the non-aligned. Equally important is to remember whether your milk purchaser has treated you fairly, or deluded you. For me, one or two milk purchasers have a case to answer and haven’t treated farmers either equally or fairly. Farmers have largely paid the price for the cost of processors either defending or winning new business at knockdown prices, especially those who scandalously used cheap B milk to mount smash and grab raids. Some processors don’t seem to worry about the number of suppliers they are sacrificing. Auction analogy One interesting analogy put to me recently concerned aligned contracts. It was suggested that there was a similarity between Tesco, Sainsbury’s, plus the other retailers with aligned suppliers, and the best buyers around a livestock auction ring. The aligned retailers and contracts have removed the strongest buyers from that ring. It’s a fair point, I think, because once these were removed the non-aligned among you are left with the other buyers whom – just as in the auction ring – can be poor or bad payers, or just a little bit dodgier.

To really rub salt in the wound it’s a fact the two forces driving the GB spot milk market are Muller and Arla. But neither appears to see any benefit in encouraging existing producers to supply more milk. And yet instead they are likely to be paying 40ppl for spot milk by the end of September, while continuing to pretend

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 10:27


‘Milk purchasers should be paying more’ they have no milk supply issues. If that wasn’t enough, some of Arla’s board of reps (BOR) farmers saw this shortage coming in July and put forward a proposal for Arla to pay a 5ppl bonus on every additional litre delivered over and above the corresponding month a year earlier. But the plans were killed by the top brass, apparently. This has resulted in pretty widespread criticism from Arla’s own BOR farmers over their company’s ‘One Settlement’ rule, which applies across all of its seven supplying countries. Consequently there are some member calls for Arla to effectively re-nationalise each country’s member farmgate milk price, because one size does not fit all. Big unknown The big unknowns in the market right now are how much of the upturn is down to a worldwide drop in milk production, how much is down to rejuvenated Chinese demand and last, but not least, intervention. At what point will the European Commission start to offload SMP from intervention stores, which will dampen upward price movements there, or individual companies move butter out of PSA.

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

According to AHDB Dairy, cull numbers between February and June were 17% up on the same period a year earlier. Their rough calculation shows the extra animals will result in 310 million litres less milk, and while replacements are in the system they will come nowhere near to compensating for the 17%. In addition, German slaughterings are up 16%. Now to the thorny issue of credibility and good governance practice. This month the spotlight is focused on Muller again, and the England and Wales NFU dairy board. Both boards should provide the strongest rep-

resentation for the interests of all its producers and be accountable to members. But they don’t. The NFU dairy board is heavily co-op, and in particular Arla, weighted. It is not good representation to have both the NFU dairy board’s chairman and vice-chairman both supplying the firm, and a total of seven out of 12 dairy farmers on its board supplying Arla. With Muller, the feedback to me is clearly that non-aligned farmers feel they are not represented in any shape or form, and that the Muller board is not even in a position to organise their own independent producer meetings to allow producers to express their views. The view from one particularly colourful emailer was that if the board and Muller aren’t careful and play it right for all farmers, they will end up looking like the characters from Sooty (farmer chairman) and Sweep (any nominated aligned deputy), with Sue being Lyndsay Chapman and me Butch, the nasty bulldog. I can envisage Muller farmers jumping up and down in uproar at this image of their ‘representative’ board, but – and this says it all – it will only be those on cushy aligned contracts doing the jumping. Following on from a recent article, I am pleased to see Yew Tree Dairies (aka Woodcocks) will, by the time this article is out, have launched the first farmer orientated futures trading price contracts. Well done, and about time too. There will be more on how it works in a future issue. My comments on fixing cows at dairy shows and Holstein UK’s vow of silence kickstarted a debate around issues a few farmers would rather not discuss, or have aired. Needless to say I intend to re-visit that area again soon.

OCTOBER 2016 **DF Oct p14 15 Potter.indd 3


15 16/09/2016 10:27

BREEDING The cattle breeding world has undergone a revolution with the introduction of genomic technology in the last few years. Bruce Jobson assesses the trends in North America and the likely impact for us.

Is UK falling behind on genomic uptake?


hen genomic technology came to the fore in 2009 not everyone was convinced the cattle breeding industry was heading in the right direction. To some the concept was outrageous, dangerous and could lead to the ruination of the Holstein breed. Fast forward seven years and genomics is the accepted norm – and none more so than in North America. The sheer size and scale of the North America market continues to dictate breeding programmes on a global basis, and in particular the use of the US TPI and Canadian LPI sire evaluation system. Canada has an extremely robust evaluation system based upon its own Lifetime Performance Index (LPI), as does the



**DF Oct p16 18 Breeding.indd 2

FDL Barcelona, the number one available Jersey genomic LPI sire in Canada in 2016 -- Jersey genomic use now has 62.7% market share.

UK equivalent of PLI. Certain bulls have listed at varying levels within each evaluation system depending upon the particular national emphasis placed upon sires within each country. This may also determine

which proven or genomic sires are used by breeders, especially second-country usage. However, Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) data reveals the increasing use of genomic young sires across all major breeds.

In August 2016, almost 70% of Holstein breed inseminations were the result of genomic sire usage. In the pre-genomic era in 2008, young sire usage within Canada hovered around the 35% mark (CDN) with the remainder being the result of utilisation by proven sires. Within eight years, young sire usage has roughly doubled on its previous level. This is a remarkable turn around and there is nothing to suggest similar results do not occur within the US. High profile By 2010, genomic sire usage had increased to just over 50% but slipped back over the next 18 months to just over 40%. This was the result of numerous high profile Goldwyn sons returning to active service following publication of Canadian progeny proofs. Over the next five years, Holstein genomic sire usage has increased steadily from the approximately 40% to the current level nearer 70% level. The Jersey breed follows a similar trend with genomic sires increasing from 38% to the current 62.7% level, although this figure appears to have reached a plateau over the past 18 months and may again be partly due to the result of breeders returning to use new progeny proven bulls such as Comestar Beautifull and Sunset Canyon David. However, the most remarkable upsurge has been within the Ayrshire and Brown Swiss breeds. Ayrshire young sire

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:03



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BREEDING Table 1 Average gain in LPI Reliability due to genomics (Aug 2016 v April 2011) Traditional Genomic Increase reliability methodology technology (percent points) 50K test sub group young bulls + 41% 74% 33% heifers by PROVEN sire 2016 50K test sub group young bulls + 37% 70% 33% heifers with a genomic parent average LPI sire (Genomic young sire) 2016 50K young bulls + heifers 37% 66% 29% born 2008 - 2011 use has increased from approximately 42% in the pregenomic era (2008) to 64.9% in 2016. As more genomic information and profiling became available, Ayrshire breeders have had greater confidence in the technology and since 2014 genomic sire use has dramatically increased from approximately 45% to 65% level. Likewise, Brown Swiss breeders have demonstrated increasing confidence in genomic sire inseminations. In 2008, the breed maintained young sire usage at 35% before dropping down to slightly below 30% in 2010. Since 2011, Brown Swiss genomic sire insemination has increased 100% to the 60.3% level. Demand Clearly, demand for genomic sire inseminations continues to increase over all major breeds. This has resulted in more young genomic sires being procured by the AI units. At the onset of the genomic era, it was openly deduced that fewer young bulls would be required – and that better bulls would be entering the AI units. This has not transpired owing to increasing demand – but also supply. A 12-24 month old young bull does not have the same level of semen (frozen) production compared to a mature bull. As a generalisation, a youngster may only produce 10,000-20,000 units in his first year compared to 100,000 units for a five to six-year old returning to service following



**DF Oct p16 18 Breeding.indd 3

UK breeders appear not to have embraced genomics in the same way as North America Bruce Jobson progeny evaluation. Some mature bulls produce more than 200,000 units. As more information and genomic testing became available to breeders, the data has provided increases in reliability which in turn is allowing breeders to have more confidence in the technology. At the onset, information was only available for Holsteins but other breeds are now using the technology to greater effect. The increases in reliability for Holsteins continues to advance and by taking a “snap-shot” of available information we can compare the difference in reliability since genomic evaluations were published in 2009. Effectively percentage reliability has increased from the then 24% in 2009 (at the time when official evaluations were introduced for Holsteins) to the level of LPI reliability gain of 33% – to the current 74% with genomics. (See Table 1). Canada has always been regarded as having a traditional or more conservative approach to sire selection. However, breed-

The number one Holstein genomic LPI bull Bandares.

ers appear to have accepted the advances available through genomic technology – as well as the potential risks. UK breeders UK breeders appear not to have embraced genomics in the same way as North America. There seems to be a more cautious approach by pedigree breeders according to Holstein UK registration data. Please remember, these matings occurred 12-24 months ago and this is a retrospective observation. At the time of going to print, over the past two-month period, the sire with the highest number of daughters registered in the period window was Amighetti Numero Uno with 449 daughters. The bull was arguably the breed’s first global genomic superstar, having been born in 2010. Effectively, the upsurge in UK registrations are a result of his outstanding daughter proven evaluation. In second place during the same two-month window, UK

genomic youngster Wiltor Dreamer lists with 434 daughters. This Seagull-Bay Supersire genomic son was born in 2013 and is therefore proving an extremely popular choice with Holstein UK breeders. By extending the period over four bi-monthly windows, the top heifer calf registration slot is occupied by Italian proven bull Go-Farm Zeber (who listed third over the initial two-month window with 415, 371, 428 and 525 daughters respectively). Zeber was born in 2009 – at the onset of the genomic revolution – and now has 3982 registered offspring. A snap-shot of his pedigree therefore reflects a deep heritage of proven elite bulls, as apart from being sired by Ked Outside Jeeves, it also contains the likes of Goldwyn, Zenith, James, Durham and Blackstar Emory. As far as genomic young sires versus proven sires is concerned it would appear that in the UK the jury is still out.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 11:58


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19 16/09/2016 09:32

YOUNGSTOCK A purpose-built calf house has brought big advantages to the way calves are managed on a Lancashire dairy farm. Jeremy Hunt reports.

Purpose-built housing boosts calf growth rates


he purpose-built calf house at the Forshaw family’s farm has proved revolutionary in improving calf health and reducing losses. The Forshaw family at Little Town Dairy, Longridge, near Preston, milk 160 cows and as well as rearing home-bred dairy calves also buy in beef calves to eventually be sold on as strong stores. Calves used to be reared in various buildings on the farm and calf hutches were also used for a while. “The hutches are okay for one calf but we were using them for more than one and getting problems with cross-sucking. We knew we needed to re-think our calf rearing system and so visited several other farms that had built specific calf rearing accommodation to get some ideas,” says Nathan Forshaw. The family now rears about 180 calves a year in a new steel-framed building which is 60ft wide with a 20ft passage down the centre. With six pens on one side and five on the opposite side, the shed holds 120 calves at any one time. Each pen measures 20ft deep by 15ft wide. The pens are divided by five foot high solid concrete panelled walls so each pen is an individual environment for the calves it contains. “It means that when we steam clean each pen there is no risk of water running into the next pen. It also ensures calves in adjoining pens have no contact with each other,” says Nathan. The building has a 10-inch open



**DF Oct p20 21 Youngstock.indd 2

ridge for ventilation and the sides of the shed are tin sheeted with concrete panels for the first 5ft. The panels have been built so they are eight inches away from the sheeting at the point at which they meet. “We did this to enable the air to be drawn up into the building. We didn’t want any winds or draughts so in theory the heat of the calves is meant to push the air out at the top and draw it in from the sides. Heat “This works to some degree but there are times when the calves aren’t generating enough heat. So a year ago we installed two Proctor fans to help push the air out and it has certainly made a big difference,” says Nathan. Calves come into the shed within two hours of being born and are individually housed in Sol-

way recycled plastic pens measuring 1500mm long by 910mm wide by 1000mm high. Groups of these pens are set up in one of the larger pens. Calves stay in these individual pens until the youngest is two weeks old and then the pens are dismantled in-situ to avoid the calves being moved. Each of the larger pens takes 12 calves. Each calf is fed its own mother’s colostrum for three days after which a 15% skimmed milk powder is introduced. Calves are twice daily fed in individual buckets with warm milk at 40-degrees. Calves receive two litres for the first week and up to 2.5 litres by week two and up to three litres by week three. This level is continued until calves are about 10 weeks old. “We feel calves are making the most of milk at this age which is

why we continue feeding it a little longer than most,” says Nathan. “We clean out each pen after every batch but we also clean out half way through as it helps avoid calves having wet bedding underneath them.” Nathan firrmly believes having a purpose-built system which allows him to avoid having to move calves around to different pens has been a huge benefit in terms of calf health. “I used to have to moves calves for all sorts of reasons, particularly if a calf wasn’t doing very

Calves stay in individual pens until two weeks old, when the pens are dismantled in-situ to avoid calves being moved.

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:08

YOUNGSTOCK Nathan Forshaw says not having to move calves into different pens has been beneficial to calf health.

well. Now I don’t have to do that because we have better facilities for calves – and even if a get a calf that’s a poor doer it’s better left in its group than being transferred to another pen. Stress “The impact of stress on calves is something we underestimate. If you can avoid it there’s no doubt it really helps calves thrive.” The Forshaws say over the last two years since the new system was installed there has been a big improvement in calf growth rates as well as health. “We work closely with our vet Ian Cure from Lambert, Leonard and May and have been monitoring calf growth rates. Calves

are weighed three times during the time they are in the new calf rearing shed – at two weeks, six weeks and eight weeks. “By weaning I want calves eating about 4kg but our calves are now bigger and stronger as a result of the new stricter management system. We also use calf coats on black-and-white heifer calves in the winter. “I’m not saying we don’t get any cases of pneumonia these days, but we certainly get a lot less and definitely don’t get the rate of spread of health problems through a pen like we used to get. And because the building is light and airy we can spot problems very quickly so that means calves are treated promptly,” says Nathan.

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FRANCE While the Loire Valley in France is noted for its maize seed production, it is currently battling with drought conditions. Laura Bowyer visited the region to find out more.

French seed growers face ongoing drought


here are two things you immediately notice on visiting the Loire Valley. Firstly the extremely dry terrain, where many of the river tributaries have completely dried up, and secondly the sheer acreage of short maize plants which have had their tassles cut off. The regions, or departments as they are known, surrounding the river are crucial to the country’s maize seed production and this area is the largest exporter in the world. Growing maize for seed provides goods returns and has proved a saving grace for many farmers. As Europe’s largest maize seed producer, 2014-16 saw an average of 74,000 hectares of seed maize grown in France. The other three major players in the European maize seed game are Hungary (25,000ha), Romania (25,000ha) and Ukraine (31,000ha), all of which are increasing production but not at the same rate as the French. It is the role of the Fédération Nationale de la Production des Semences de Maïs et de Sorgho (FNPSMS) to set contract agreement guidelines between seed growers and seed companies.

Globally people are sowing earlier and earlier Regis Doucet



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The Loire Valley is adorned with de-tassled seed maize plants.

Luc Esprit, director of FNPSMS, says: “Per bag, our seed farmers are receiving €2022, and 1ha can produce 222 units, so that is €4000 per ha paid to the farmer. Research “The grower has to buy the seed and that cost has to cover our research. Their seed currently costs €100-€120 per bag and they need 1.7 bags to drill a hectare, meaning it costs the farmer €180 per ha to grow maize seed. “Planting seed is expensive particularly because of the labour, much of which is manual, and irrigation costs which are incurred on top of seed costs. But the crop will perform and farmers trust it,” he says. Western Europe is the traditional market for French maize seed with Germany being the leading outlet. This region of Europe sees two thirds of production destined for


silage, whether that be as feed or to be digested anaerobically, which was the case for 22 per cent of Western European maize in 2016. The French industry breeds 2000 varieties although some will never reach the market. Regis Doucet, technical manager for Arvalis Plant Institute, the French maize seed industry’s research and development arm, says this number of varieties is important for genetic progress.

Irrigation is key in maize seed production and it is used in 100% of French production, with 1200ha under irrigation in the Loire Valley utilising the river’s water. There is no ban on irrigation because of the access to the Loire, but on visiting the region it is easy to see the vast amount of work and investment which is needed to be put into developing the water infrastructure. Water restrictions have been put in place before, but they are

Drought has stressed the maize plant and hindered cob development.

16/09/2016 09:59


Forage maize is already being cut for ensiling in the Loire Valley.

very rare and it is decided from the flow rate of the river. The Government also prioritises seed maize over the rest of the maize types. The river is also the source of the local population’s drinking water, which could pose its own problems when it comes to nitrogen run-off, but a local farmer claims this has not been the case for at least ten years. Advancement According to Mr Doucet there are seven different types of earlinesses, and very early maize varieties have seen the biggest genetic advances, and the earlier the variety the greater the advancement. He says: “Hybrid maize plants have been developed to resist cold temperatures, particularly in silage varieties, which is a key criterion for early sowing. Globally people are sowing earlier and earlier.” There is a great deal of research taking place within the French maize seed industry, led by Arvalis Plant Institute. Mr Doucet says they are currently looking at the male parent plants and pollination potential, as some males experience pollen blocking. He says: “Above 38degC pollen viability can be limited, but plant growth regulators could help to improve this. “In female parent plants, research has focused upon silk balling and ear blocking, and the effect of high temperatures on ear development. “Disease protection is wholly managed via genetics. When people are looking to cut costs on-farm, modern genetics can be used and different techniques used. There are no specific pests to seed maize, but we have been trialling inter-cropping and using ‘confusion methods’ to control some pests, including corn borers,” he says.

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16/09/2016 11:59

GRAIN CRIMPING The Shelbourne Reynolds stripper header is being used in Denmark to crimp grain through maize cracker-equipped forage harvesters.

Developed originally for use on combines to speed grain harvesting by taking in only the ears, contractors in Denmark are fitting stripper headers on forage harvesters to allow production of crimped grain in a single process. Martin Rickatson reports.

New technique will make crimping more attractive


rimping can produce a home-grown grain feed of high palatability with potential as a concentrate replacer without requiring a fully ripe crop or ownership of a dryer or roller mill. However, the process of harvesting and processing, putting unripe material through a combine and then passing the grain through a separate crimping process before storage, can dampen its appeal. But a new technique being increasingly adopted by Danish contractors and dairy farmers could make crimping more attractive by significantly reducing harvesting and processing time



and cost, and leaving the straw behind to ripen. In addition this approach will also boost forager utilisation, which is something that could particularly appeal to farms running their own machine. The stripper header, developed in the late 1980s as an alternative to the conventional combine cutterbar and working by removing only the ears of cereals, has been commercially produced since 1990 by Suffolk firm Shelbourne Reynolds. But while UK uptake has been relatively limited due to heavy straw yields here and subsequent disposal issues, it has found greater favour in North America’s shorter, lighter-strawed crops.

This has meant most of the production is exported, but one area where European farmers and contractors are starting to adopt the header is for use on forage harvesters. Single pass The principle, according to Danish contractor Klaus Kirkeby, is that a forage harvester equipped with a stripper header and crucially a maize cracker, can do the job of harvesting and crimping grain in a single pass. Most of the early adopters of the technique in Denmark, among whom are ten clients of Mr Kirkeby, are organic milk producers who face additional challenges in often needing to

undersow cereal crops in order to cost-effectively incorporate clover-grass mixes into their rotations. “Harvesting a cereal crop where the grain and straw are not fit is already hard on a combine, but adding in a lot of green material from undersowing makes it twice as tough,” he says. “Using a stripper header on a forage harvester overcomes these issues. Although a separate mowing process is necessary if the straw is required, it can be left to ripen afterwards, and it subsequently does this much faster as the top of the stem is opened up. Most of what we are being asked to harvest is barley,


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Spring barley crops undersown with grass/clover mixes means some green leaf material is present in the ensiled product – stems are left in the field.

with a small area of oats.” Already an established contractor offering services including forage harvesting with a 653hp Claas Jaguar 960, Mr Kirkeby invested in a 7.3m (24ft) stripper header in time for the 2016 harvest. Aside from an adaptation to fit the header to the forager rather than a combine, the unit is unaltered. The rearward-rotating rotor inside the hood features eight rows of keyhole-shaped teeth which strip cereal heads, transferring them to an intake auger running at a fixed 200rpm. This brings them to the centre and they then go on to the forager’s feeder house where they pass on through the chopping cylinder and maize cracker before being ejected from the chute. Cracker rollers “At around 12.5km/hr forward speed, we run the stripper rotor at 700rpm, around 200rpm higher than would be using for drier grain going through a combine. “The cracker rollers are closed up as tightly as they can be to ensure as many grains as possible are broken, as they’re obviously smaller and softer than maize kernels. We are getting pretty good results from this, although we are talking with Claas about rollers



specifically for grain.” In grass/clover undersown crops with spring barley cut around three weeks ahead of normal harvest date, what comes out of the forager chute is a grain/green matter mixture of around 65 per cent dry matter. On organic farms no additive is applied, although Mr Kirkeby sees no reason why one couldn’t be used in a conventional situation. Most customers are ensiling the grain – which comes mixed with some grass/ clover and any other green material stripped by the header – in small, walled clamps which are firmly rolled, have grass layered on top and are double sheeted. In some circumstances an AgBag ‘sausage’ type system could be used. Kristian Clausen, who farms with his son Kaspar, near Varde, western Denmark, has been producing organic milk since 1997. Their commercial herd of 540 Finn and Montbeliarde cows averages 10,000 litres at 4% butterfat and 3.5% protein, and organic status earns them a 15ppl bonus. This year, they are trying the stripped/crimped undersown barley technique for the first time, courtesy of Bounum, another contractor offering the service. “With our shorter summers, ripening and short harvest win-

The technique requires a forage harvester fitted with a maize cracker, which is set to its narrowest gap to ensure most grains are split open.

There are no combine losses, less risk of heads and grains shedding, and there is no waiting for the crop to dry, says Kristian Clausen.

dows can create problems, so I wanted to replace the rolled barley element of our grass/maize silage-based TMR,” Mr Clausen senior says. Feed value “But the other key attraction is we’re getting more feed value from the crop than we would by combining – there are no combine losses, less risk of heads and grains shedding, we retain some grass and straw with the barley, and we aren’t waiting for the crop to dry – or spending money on drying.” As this is his first year using the technique, and the product

includes green material and has only just been ensiled, Mr Clausen is currently awaiting an analysis. While the barley alone would be expected to have figures around 60% DM, 13% CP and 13 MJ ME/kg DM, the grass/ grain mix will obviously differ from this with a somewhat lower dry matter. “But after leaving the straw/ grass/clover for a few days to dry and recover from wheelings, we also have something that’s sufficiently dry to mow and big bale as a further forage, and then leave the undersow to regrow for next year,” he adds.


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15/09/2016 15:11

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15/09/2016 11:53

CONFERENCE The 67th annual European Federation of Animal Science Conference took place in Belfast recently where the latest scientific thinking was presented. Chris McCullough reports.

Research has slipped down list of priorities


U Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan told the animal science conference that the agricultural sector ‘must become smarter, leaner and cleaner’ in the future. Commissioner Hogan was addressing 1500 delegates and admitted targets set by the European Union had been missed and that agricultural research had become a low priority. The Commissioner said: “Concerns over commodity prices, food security and climate change have emphasised how vital it is to invest in agricultural research and innovation. Smarter “We know the sector must become smarter, leaner and cleaner. To meet these challenges head on, we will require more knowledge and better knowledge.

novation in the sector in recent years. “First and foremost, we doubled our investment in the field under Horizon 2020, the EU programme for research and innovation.

ledge, but it is fair to say that, as a result of the various crises which confronted the European Union in the last decade, we fell behind on our targets, and allowed agricultural research to become a lower priority. “However, there is a resurgent conviction at European level to change this fact, and we have taken strong steps to back in-

Innovation “And secondly, we took the crucial decision to make knowledge and innovation a central plank of our rural development policy. This means every EU member state and eligible region can prioritise innovation and research in the delivery of their rural development funding. “The fundamentals of European agriculture are sound. We produce the best, safest and healthiest food and drink products in the world. Our Common Agricultural Policy has been guaranteeing our continent’s food security for several generations,” he said.

We know the sector must become smarter, leaner and cleaner Phil Hogan

“Knowledge that enables us to build a more competitive and sustainable European primary production; knowledge to protect the environment and develop new value chains in vibrant rural areas; knowledge to cater for the varied needs of our hugely diverse agri-food systems and territories. “We know we need this know-

Man and livestock compete for land

JLivestock directly contribute to food supply by providing essential nutrients to humans and indirectly support cultivation of food crops by providing manure and draft power. However, livestock also consume human edible food or graze on land suitable for the cultivation of food crops. Dr Hannah van Zanten from Wageningen University, said: “As we face feeding 9.7 billion people by 2050, preferably without expanding the amount of agricultural land, there is an increasing



**DF Oct p28 30 Conference.indd 2

need to avoid competition for land between animals and humans. “We performed a review on studies that provide insight into the amount of animal-source food (ASF) produced without feedfood competition. “So called default livestock are only fed with co-products, foodwaste, crop-residues, or biomass from grazing land. “Results showed that between 7g and 27g of animal source protein per person per day can be produced from default livestock.

“The practice of feeding foodwaste to livestock is currently prohibited but shows potential in extensively reducing the environmental impact of livestock production.

Impact “Considering feed-food crops and feeding food-waste are examples of current mitigation strategies that can be implemented to reduce the environmental impact of the livestock sector. “In general a paradigm shift is needed: research should no

longer focus on increasing efficiency of the animal or the animal production chain, but on increasing efficiency of the entire food system. “Although ASF produced from default livestock does not fulfil the current demand for ASF, about one third of the protein each person needs can be produced without competition for land between feed and food production,” she claimed. “Livestock, therefore, does have an important contribution to future nutrition supply.”

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 12:00

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Benefits of new genomics

JOne of the key points emerging from the conference was the need for science to make farming more efficient. There are a number of areas where efficiency can make the most difference to a farming business including grassland management, but another way was by better breeding. Copy number variation (CNVs) is a relatively new field in genomics and it has been defined as a phenomenon in which sections of the genome are repeated, and the number of repeats in the genome varies between individuals. The process represents another important source of genetic variation complementary to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). High-density SNP array data have been routinely used to detect human CNVs, many of which have significant functional effects on gene expression and human diseases. Discovery In the dairy industry, however, a large quantity of SNP genotyping results are becoming available and can be used for CNV discovery to understand and accelerate genetic improvement for complex traits. Italian PhD student Dr Raphaelle Prinsen is just competing her studies into CNVs in the University of Milan. She presented her work investigating CNVs from over 1400 samples from Brown Swiss cows. She said: “Detecting genetic variation such as Copy Number Variants (CNVs) in cattle provides the opportunity to study their association with quantitative traits. “The results of the CNV map delivers new information for functional, health and productive traits considered in selection programs of the Brown Swiss breed,” she added.



**DF Oct p28 30 Conference.indd 3

Time bomb just waiting to go off


ounger generations need to consume more dairy produce or else a ‘demographic time bomb’ will explode in western Europe. That was the stark warning from Northern Ireland’s David Dobbin, at the conference. Dr Dobbin, the chair of Dairy UK and the outgoing chief executive of United Dairy Farmers, also said Northern Ireland was on target when it comes to growth rates of dairy production. Dr Dobbin said: “Dairy production has gone through a number of peaks and troughs over the past number of years. “The problem for farmers,

David Dobbin: action needed.

however, is being able to survive the troughs. Sadly in the past year a number of farmers struggled to survive and some left the industry. “There is a demographic timebomb going to hit the west of Europe if we do not do something to tackle the low consumption rates

of dairy products in the younger generations. “If current trends are repeated, when the young enter the next generations then there will be a sharp fall-off in dairying and that is something we have to try and address now.”

Holstein and Jersey evaluation JA joint study by Swedish and Danish universities looked into the feed efficiencies of two dairy breeds, concentrating on how dry matter intake (DMI) and adjusted feed intake (AFI) relate to feed efficiency. The study aimed to estimate genetic variances and genetic parameters for DMI and AFI in cows from the Holstein and Jersey breeds by random regression methods. In total, DMI observations in the first 44 lactation weeks from 813 primiparious Holstein cows and 301 primiparious Jersey cows were included.

The analyses for AFI were carried out by adjusting DMI observations for the cows’ milk yields, metabolic body weights (MBW) and the change of body weight during the 44 lactation weeks. The results indicated potential differences between Holstein and Jersey cows in genetic variance for DMI and AFI. The genetic variance for AFI was lower than that for DMI over the 44 weeks. Adjusted feed intake could be a candidate trait for feed efficiency in dairy cattle due to its moderate heritability and its considerations on cows’ milk production and body maintenance.

Role for genetically modified livestock JIt was in 1985 that the first transgenic livestock emerged via microinjection of foreign DNA into zygotic pronuclei. This technology has been the method of choice for more than 20 years, but has recently been replaced by more efficient protocols based on somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) which are compatible with targeted genetic modifications. Dr Heiner Niemann from the Institute of Farm Animal Genetics in Germany delivered a presentation on looking at GM livestock in agriculture and biomedicine. He said: “Although the efficiency of transgenic animal

production by microinjection technology is low, farm animals with agriculturally important transgenic traits were produced. Applications “Typical agricultural applications included improved carcass composition, improved lactational performance, and wool production; enhanced disease resistance and reduced environmental impact. “Transgenic animal production for biomedical applications has already found broad acceptance. In 2006, the European Medicines Agency approved the commercialisation of the first recombinant

protein drug produced by transgenic animals. “Pigs with transgenic expression of human immunomodulatory genes have contributed to significant progress in xenotransplantation research with survival periods of non-human primates receiving transgenic porcine hearts or kidneys approaching six months. “As the genome sequencing projects for various farm animal species near completion, it has become increasingly practical to target the removal or modification of individual genes or even single base pairs with the aid of gene editing tools,” he said.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 12:02



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NUTRITION A new revolutinary rationing model promises to add precision to our feeding of dairy cows and to ultimately save money through its more scientific approach. Peter Hollinshead reports.

New feed model adds precision to rationing


he launch of a new nutritional model is claimed to inject greater precision into diet formulation and allow producers to increase the efficiency of milk production compared to the less precise rationing models we have all been using to date. The NutriOpt model, heralded as the biggest feeding breakthrough since the introduction of Feed into Milk some 15 years ago, is the result of a multi-million pound investment by feed company Trouw Nutrition. The new approach is derived from research work into the degradability of feed nutrients through fistulated cows in the Netherlands, and followed by extensive validation trials. It looks at the whole use (and production) of energy and protein within the cow, and this has resulted in greater feedstuff precision coupled with a way of balancing typical feed ingredients. Speaking at the launch of the model at the company’s Ashbourne headquarters, Trouw’s ruminant technical development manager, Dr Liz Homer, said the

The new nutrition model will allow for more efficient rationing.

model would allow for more efficient rationing and help maximise forage utilisation, and by carefully balancing the fermentable energy with fermentable protein to meet the demands of the microbes in the rumen, digestive efficiency and rumen health would be improved. This better understanding would not only allow producers to make the most of their raw materials, but she claimed could be used to manipulate both milk yield and composition too. With its full launch this autumn, NutriOpt figures for energy and protein are already appearing on the latest of the 55,000 forage analyses the company undertakes each year and is being made fully

The NutriOpt model more accurately accounts for the energy available from the VFAs produced Dr Liz Homer



available to farm advisers and nutritionists. Fermentation “The NutriOpt approach looks at what goes on in the rumen, small intestine and large intestine – effectively what goes on in the cow. It looks at the products of fermentation and digestion, not just gross inputs as is the case with the ME system – and how feed is translated into milk, fat and protein in the udder,” she explained. One of the biggest changes is the replacement of the concept of Metabolisable Energy with Dynamic Energy (DyNE). “Dynamic energy is the energy actually available to the cow for production and includes energy from rumen VFA production, which can provide 70% of the cow’s energy requirement, energy from enzymatic starch digestion in the small intestine, plus the energy supplied in the large intestine from VFA production there,” she said. “The NutriOpt model more accurately accounts for the energy available from the VFAs produced,” she explained, pinpoint-

ing one reason for the greater precision of this model compared to its predecessors. “It also includes 10-15% of energy coming from the large intestine which was previously ignored.” She also said the NutriOpt model took account of the fundamental need for a delicate balance of rapidly and slowly fermentable energy and protein in the rumen, so microbe activity could be optimised, and ensures the rumen does not suffer acid overload which would dramatically upset its functioning. However, the new model did require an element of new thinking and, in particular, the Dynamic Energy element where it now requires 3.1MJ for milk production and 37MJ for maintenance which is a fundamental turnabout from the ME guidelines of 5.2MJ for milk and 65MJ for maintenance. More energy The difference has already been born out in this year’s silage analysis where on the old ME system the energies are down compared to the 2015 crop to the extent of 0.3litres. However, on the new model Dynamic Energy is up, which is worth an extra litre of milk. On average, therefore, feeding to the NutriOpt model this winter could save the concentrate equivalent worth of 1.3 litres of milk per cow per day compared to the old rationing system. The company claimed at a feed rate of 0.45kg/l over 200 days this represented a saving of 11.7 tonnes of concentrate per 100 cows.


**DF Oct NEW p32 34 Nutrition Trouw.indd 2

16/09/2016 09:52

Caltech Dry Cow WP.indd 1

15/09/2016 11:47


Grass silages are worth more milk

On the DyNE basis, a cow eating 10kgDM of average quality first cut will have 3MJ DyNE more than last year.

Analysis of first and second cuts silages for 2016 Nutrients on DM basis Average 1st Dry matter % 30.8 Crude protein % 14.1 D value % 67.6 ME MJ/kg 10.7 pH 4.1 NH3-N of total N % 2.4 Rapidly Ferm Carbo g/kg 182.1 Dynamic Energy MJ/kg 6.0

JMilk producers sticking rigidly with the old ME system as a means of rationing their cows could soon find themselves out of pocket this winter. That is because a new analytical model of the feed requirement of dairy cows has been produced by feed specialist Trouw Nutrition, which looks at the Dynamic Energy (DyNE) available for milk production from all sources including the rumen, small intestine and large intestine. The company’s ruminant speAverage 2nd 30.7 14.2 64.6 10.3 4.2 2.4 178.7 6.0

Wholecrop cereals quality up JAccording to Trouw Nutrition, analysis of its first 203 wholecrop samples is showing the quality of this year’s crop is marginally better than last year but may need careful balancing to avoid upsetting rumen health. This is mostly a result of higher starch values at 26.8% this year compared to 24.3% last year, and this has been seen in the increased level of rapidly fermentable carbohydrate at 200.4g/kg as against 187.1 last year, and total fermentable carbohydrate at 414.5 this year as opposed to 398.5 last year. Boost In addition bypass starch, which is the starch escaping the rumen for absorption in the small intestine, is up at 31.5g/kg com-



Wholecrop cereal silage analysis 2015 and 2016 Nutrients on DM basis 2015 2016 Dry matter (%) 41.6 41.7 Crude protein (%) 8.2 8.9 D value 65.6 65.1 ME (MJ/kg) 10.2 10.2 Starch (%) 24.3 26.8 Rapid Ferm Carbo (g/kg) 187.1 200.4 Total Ferm Carbo (g/kg) 398.5 414.5 Acid load 46.5 49.3 Bypass starch (g/kg) 27.9 31.5 Dynamic Energy (MJ/kg) 5.0 5.2 pared to 27.9 last year, which effectively means there are more glucogenic precursors available to boost milk production. The upshot of this is that the new dynamic energy figure is higher at 5.2MJ/kg this year compared to 5.0 last year. However, the company warns

of possible concerns over acid loading in the rumen. For 2016 the acid loading figure stands at 49.3 compared to 46.5 last year and this, when coupled with this year’s lower fibre index, may mean more care will be required to balance this year’s crop.

Tom Goatman: available energy.

cialist Tom Goatman said: “Dynamic Energy is the total amount of energy available for milk production and is the sum of the energy in the nutrients formed and absorbed in the digestive tract, including VFAs, glucose, amino and fatty acids.” Paradox Which leads to this year’s discrepancy and possible confusion. This year’s first cuts comprising 3400 samples showed ME levels were slightly down on last year which could send out the message producers need to supplement with more energyrich concentrates. But, paradoxically, the new DyNE analysis shows these forages will actually perform better than expected. “On the DyNE basis, a cow eating 10kgDM of average quality first cut will have 3MJ DyNE more than last year. While on an ME basis 10kg DM would support 0.3 litres less milk, on a DyNE basis it will support one extra litre of milk and the economic consequences in term of potentially reducing feed costs are significant,” he said. However, the analysis also showed the fermentable carbohydrate levels were lower and cows may benefit from the addition of rolled or ground wheat with less slowly fermented ingredients such as maize meal, or producers could increase the wholecrop inclusion as that would complement these grass silages.


**DF Oct NEW p32 34 Nutrition Trouw.indd 3

16/09/2016 09:53

Ecolab WP.indd 1

15/09/2016 11:49


It is vital to make the most of the information in your milk recording data, says Mike Chown.

A closer look at your milk recording data may reveal some vital clues as to why your cows may not be performing as they are expected to. UFAC sales manager Mike Chown takes a look behind the headline figures.

Search out the secrets in your milk recordings


hatever the initial reason for milk recording, a more in-depth study of the data can really take the lid off how cows and the diet are performing, and this is particularly true in the crucial first 100 days of lactation. “Having invested in milk recording it is vital to derive maximum value from the data. Using the information to assess the diet can be done quickly and with no additional cost,” says Mike Chown. He says looking closely at milk lactose levels can indicate



**DF Oct p36 37 Nutrition UFAC.indd 2

whether the diet contains the right mix of energy sources which he insists are as important as total energy levels. “Lactose is the driver of milk yield and should be at least 4.5%. Lactose is produced from glucose, and lactose levels below this are a clear indication that cows are short of glucogenic energy in the diet and that yield may be suffering as a result,” he explains. He says where lactose levels are low the diet should be reviewed with particular attention paid to energy sources, with the objective of increasing those that contribute glucogenic

energy to the diet such as maize meal, wheat or sugar beet. “However, these feeds may add to rumen acid load and reduce DMI, and therefore total energy intake, making the problem worse. In many cases, especially if cows are in early lactation, it will pay to add sources of rumen inert glycerol such as UFAC Glycerene to the diet.” Ratios He says the other element of milk quality to assess is the fat:protein ratio which is a good indicator of whether cows are mobilising excess body fat. If the

ratio is greater than 1.5:1 then it is probable too much body fat is being mobilised, increasing the risk of metabolic disorders and associated poor health and fertility. This can be confirmed by scrutinising two other sections in the records which look at the analysis of fats in the milk. “If C18:1 levels are over 22, then it is likely cows are suffering excessive bodyweight loss, especially if MUFA (mono unsaturated fatty acid) levels are over 30. This is because the cow mobilises body unsaturated fats to utilise the glycerol in them as an energy source, and the result is an increase in the

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:15

NUTRITION individual MUFAs in the milk. “As these measures indicate an energy shortfall in the diet, it is important to review the energy sources in the diet including Non-Fibre Carbohydrate levels. Also check dry matter intakes to make sure cows are eating what you expect them to. The problem may be due to insufficient consumption of a balanced diet. “Take a close look at transition management, too. Energy deficiencies in early lactation may be more to do with transition management and the transition ration rather than the early lactation diet itself. If problems are in the first 40 days of lactation, the source of the problem is more likely to be in the transition diet. Later in lactation would suggest it is the fresh calved diet which needs reviewing,” he says. Milk protein In addition to the fat:protein ratio, Mr Chown advises looking at milk protein, saying a fall in milk protein content may signal cows are short of DUP and essential amino acids. He says this commonly occurs when cows have lost so much condition in early lactation that they have mobilised muscle as well as fat, and are using protein in the diet to rebuild muscle. “In such cases look at total protein intake, DUP and amino acid balance. In this situation an additive such as UFAC Promega Plus which includes rumen inert methionine, the modern day fish meal replacer, may be the ideal fit.” Milk records can also give an indication of how effectively the rumen is performing. He says the levels of short chain fatty acids reported are a great indicator of rumen function with low levels pointing to an under-performing rumen. “Short chain fatty acids should be around 14% in milk. If levels are less than 10% it could mean rumen VFA production is limiting and rumen conditions are sub-optimal. The diet should be assessed for effective fibre levels and the forage to concentrate ratio. Also check the balance of fats in the diet to ensure sufficient rumen-inert unsaturated fats are being fed,” he advises. With the focus on improving efficiency to reduce costs, taking a new look at milk records information could help highlight where diets can be fine tuned to get fresh calved cows performing to their potential and also keep them healthy.

If problems are in the first 40 days of lactation, the source of the problem is more likely to be in the transition diet Mike Chown

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37 15/09/2016 15:15

NUTRITION Out-wintering heifers may mean less work and fewer buildings, but can they maintain the necessary growth rates for early calving and not end up in a quagmire. Jeremy Hunt reports.

Out-wintering heifers on kale and big bales


n-calf dairy heifers are being successfully out-wintered on brassicas at SRUC’s Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries. It is a system which is enabling heifers to grow well and thrive in late pregnancy and gain about 0.8kg a day. Farm manager Hugh McClymont is now heading into his fourth year of out-wintering and says he has been impressed by the way in-calf heifers have performed and by their overall health and vigour when housed prior to calving. Initially, 30 in-calf heifers were out-wintered on brassicas and as Mr McClymont says: “I wanted to remind myself about the practicalities and principles of strip-grazing brassicas – this was what really got us going. “We set it up on a roadside field so anyone could see what we were doing. We were prepared to allay any concerns there might be about out-wintering stock. “But I don’t think out-wintering is suitable for heifers under 12-months old – best for

Out-wintered cattle grazing kale, with the ring feeder put round the big bales as they get to them.

those from 18-24 months which are strong enough and robust enough to cope,” he says. The first venture into out-wintering at Crichton Royal Farm selected a three hectare field which had not been ploughed

We were prepared to allay any concerns there might be about outwintering stock Hugh McClymont



**DF Oct p38 40 Nutrition kale.indd 2

for almost 20 years. It was sprayed with Roundup, lime was applied to adjust pH levels, and treated with slurry. Brassicas were direct drilled on August 1. Varieties “We used kale varieties Redstart and Swift and applied 50kg of N. It was an easy crop to grow, in fact neighbours commented on how well the crop looked,” says Mr McClymont. The 30 in-calf heifers were put to the field on December 1, grazing the crop until mid-March. Two electric fences were set-up about two metres apart. “We did this in case the first fence failed,” he explained. “We didn’t ask them to eat the crop right down to ground

level. The heifers tended to take the leaves and some of the stalk but they always had access to big-bale silage.” Two rows of big bales were lined up along each length of the field so there was always silage on offer close by as the heifers moved through the crop. As the fence was moved it encircled a silage bale over which a ring feeder was dropped. “It was exceptionally wet in the first year and we opened up an adjacent grass field to give heifers somewhere dry to lie. Even though they took the top off the grass, they soon went back to the kale.” Heifers calved from April to June and were taken back to the farm each month to be weighed.

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Big bale silage is an important source of dry matter for the out-wintered heifers, and bales are put out early along the entire length of the field.

“My eye was my judge and they looked fine, but we wanted to be sure. Over the weigh scale we found them holding on to a daily gain of 0.7-0.8kg a day, which proved they were thriving on the system and being outside was having no adverse effect on body condition – even in this late stage of pregnancy.” Commenting on the heifers, Mr McClymont said they calved down ‘fantastically well’. The following year, the out-wintering was repeated and last year (2015/16) there were 38 in-calf heifers grazing 4.5ha of kale in one of the wettest winters recorded in Dumfries. “In January we had more than 300mm of rain, but the heifers coped with it. Fortunately, it was a sloping field so we started at the top and worked down. “Providing a dry lie-back can be an issue when you have to deal with so much rain, but it was an exceptional year. We had

no problems with feet, despite the wet conditions.” Mr McClymont says the electric fence was moved about two metres a day but admits it was initially trial and error. “We started off by seeing just how much we felt they needed to eat, but the two-metre daily allocation proved to be about right. The kale would be about knee to thigh height, so I reckon they were eating about 11-12kg of dry matter per head per day. “Kale would be giving them about 7kg dry matter and the rest would come from the big bale silage,” he said. Silage Mr McClymont stresses it is important for this system to provide good quality silage. “This is not a system for offloading poor quality silage. The big bales need to be high dry matter silage, at about 1112MJ ME, with a good protein level – ideally, good quality third-cut material. It’s the balance between the good quality forage and the well-grown leafy kale which gives you the growth result. So don’t put out straw or poor quality forage,” he warns. Selecting fields which are well drained and with some shelter is important, says Mr McClymont. “Anyone considering out-wintering must take account of the type of land they have available

In January we had more than 300mm of rain, but the heifers coped with it Hugh McClymont 40 DAIRY OCTOBER 2016

Anyone considering outwintering must take account of the type of land they have available Hugh McClymont

and they need to find fields which provide some natural shelter from prevailing weather even if it’s just a line of trees, a high hedge or a wall.” This year will again see heifers out-wintered at Crichton Royal with a batch of 40 grazing kale from November until the end of March on a six hectare field. The width of this winter’s kale grazing system will see heifers feeding along a 200m fence. The management guidelines emerging from the experience of out-wintering at Crichton Royal Farm clearly focus on careful selection of fields to be used in terms of soil type, drainage, shelter and accessibility. “Most dairy farms are in the wetter western parts of the UK, so there is always the issue of higher rainfall to contend with – but this is more in relation to the ground conditions rather than the impact on stock, which

should be able to cope providing there is adequate shelter from prevailing weather. “So pick a site which is free-draining – such as sandyloam soil. Avoid clay and preferably select a field with some slope to it.” Hugh McClymont is adamant out-wintered heifers are definitely healthier compared with those which are housed. “And to reiterate the effect of winter ground conditions on feet, I have never yet had to treat a heifer which was lame because it was out-wintered. All heifers were wormed and dressed accordingly while at grass before moving to this system. Savings “There are definitely savings to be made when you consider the fuel and feed needed to manage housed heifers in winter – and there is no manure removal as this is deposited in the field.” The concentrated deposition of muck during winter definitely has knock-on benefits. “By the time the heifers come off these fields you’ve got land which has been well manured and conditioned. It’s an excellent entry for grass as we have proved here, even without ploughing as you are putting the seed exactly where the manure is. “Maize also follows on well in fields used for out-wintering,” says Mr McClymont.


**DF Oct p38 40 Nutrition kale.indd 4

15/09/2016 16:15


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41 16/09/2016 09:51

NUTRITION With imported feedstuffs becoming more expensive, producers will be seeking to replace more bought-in concentrates with high quality forage. Wendy Short talks to John Burgess, of plant breeders KWS, about the prospects for maize.

Plant breeders assess bypass starch benefits


aize silage has established itself as a vital ingredient in most rations with its great attribute of adding energy in the form of starch to the diet. “As breeders, we have responded to market demands by focusing on maize quality and selecting for high starch, especially in the early FAO 150–170 hybrids,” says John Burgess. “Our efforts have been largely successful as the average starch content of our early maize varieties was 33-34% five years ago and will have risen to 35-38% for 2017. These are trials figures and farm-scale crops will usually score two or three points lower, although some of the ultra-early varieties are nudging 40%. Overloaded “A proportion of the starch in a maize kernel can be described as being vitreous or glass-like. This quality makes it more difficult to break down in the rumen and a high energy forage can lead to the rumen becoming overloaded with the material, increasing the risk of acidosis. This is why many nutritionists set a limit of 25% starch inclusion for a total mixed ration,” he says. “However, maize kernels also contain a proportion of by-pass starch, which is a less vitreous material and performs exactly as its name suggests, by-passing the rumen to be digested in the abomasum. This produces more readily available energy for the cow to utilise and comes with a lower risk of potential health issues.



**DF Oct p42 43 Nutrition Maize.indd 2

Producers are seeking early maturing varieties to help them comply with environmental regulations.

Mr Burgess says producers are also seeking early-maturing varieties to help them comply with environmental regulations, so attaining higher bypass starch results is a double benefit from early hybrids. “Each variety typically has a different level of by-pass starch, with some early hybrid maize varieties containing twice as much by-pass starch as later varieties. This information offers

a useful tool for producers when they are selecting varieties to suit their systems and to match the other ingredients in the ration,” he says. Analysed “In Germany and Denmark, figures for by-pass starch content are beginning to be analysed and published for all varieties, and there are plans to introduce this system in the Netherlands.

The value is expressed either as grammes per kilogramme, or as a by-pass fraction in gms/kilo dry matter. Although by-pass starch values are not currently published in the UK maize descriptive list tables, they may well be introduced in the future.” Milk production is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with advances in technology and pressure on prices. This has led

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:18


to dairy farmers having a more detailed approach to ration formulation and maize is just one of the ingredients which has come under the spotlight. “We are already pushing the limit of maize silage inclusion into the ration, because of the risk of acidosis. If we can manipulate systems to include a higher level of by-pass starch, there is the potential to improve milk from forage. But decisions also have to take into account the economics of growing the crop and the effect on yield,” he warns. “Another element which offers a possible opportunity for cost savings is to increase consistency within the clamp. Nutritionists often encounter problems with ration formulation because of these inconsistencies. Quality One way to level out quality is to grow just a single variety, but this approach will not suit every farming system, suggests Mr Burgess. “Another solution is to pay close attention to crop maturity and ensure that maize is cut at the correct time. However, this is not always easy to achieve in practical terms due to the weather and the demands placed on contractors. Bypass starch has also been found to correlate with the crop’s maturity status, so timeliness will also have an influence on this element of the ration. “We have also seen that a modest reduction in seed rates will give a clear boost in starch content – farmers stepping down from 42,000 seeds/acre to about 38,00040,000 have observed this already in 2016, especially where they habitually grow early hybrids,” says Mr Burgess. He also believes farmers may be overchopping maize and recommends growers opt for about 25mm. “Chopping at 12-15mm may lead to greater efficiency at harvest, but the practice will reduce the material’s ‘scratch factor’, which is a term not widely used nowadays but which still holds true when it comes to rumen health,” he says. “A crop with a high scratch factor has a buffering effect on the rumen and this can also help to reduce the risk of acidosis. To maximise scratch factor, I would advise cutting at about 25mm. But that should be the limit because very long pieces of material are difficult to ensile and some of the kernels will remain intact, which is undesirable,” he explains. “In addition, 2016 has produced bulky crops, which will take time to dry down fully, and therefore a longer chop length should reduce effluent, which is important on farms where this is a concern,” he adds.

We have also seen that a modest reduction in seed rates will give a clear boost in starch content John Burgess

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43 15/09/2016 15:19

NUTRITION Improving rumen function and feed efficiency can offer significant gains in milk from forage and overall dairy unit profitability, as AB Vista’s technical director Dr Derek McIlmoyle explains.

Rumen buffering key to raising feed efficiency


ompared to the major focus placed on feed efficiency by the pig and poultry sectors, the efficiency which feed is converted into milk receives relatively little attention on most UK dairy farms. Although this is starting to change, rumen conditions – and rumen pH in particular – are still too often only considered when faced with a metabolic problem such as acidosis. “This misses some of the most important issues relating to rumen buffering and conditioning, which is a more complex process than simply avoiding acidosis,” says Dr McIlmoyle. Environment “Even before acidosis becomes a problem, the rumen’s efficiency when fermenting feed ingredients can be compromised if the rumen environment is unbalanced. “The result is a loss of nutrients, below optimum performance and a lower margin over feed,” he says. The risk of acidosis is highest when large volumes of rapidly

It is important to consider the diet’s effect on rumen efficiency, says AB Vista’s Dr Derek McIlmoyle.

fermented concentrates are fed, particularly if the ration is relatively low in digestible and structural fibre – both essential for good rumen function. However, the high level of energy density needed to maintain yields in excess of 30-40 litres per cow per day means there is still a risk of acidosis even with a well-balanced ration. “More importantly, if those rations are pushing the limits of what the rumen can withstand, even if avoiding sub-clinical acidosis, the chances are rumen fermentation efficiency is already compromised,” adds Dr McIlmoyle.

Make feed efficiency a priority going forward Dr Derek McIlmoyle 44 DAIRY OCTOBER 2016

“This is where good rumen buffering really comes into its own, using specific rumen conditioners to improve feed efficiency as well as further reduce the risk of acidosis.” Efficiency Feed efficiency is a topic which is coming under increasing scrutiny globally as the competition between human and livestock feed use rises owing to a growing worldwide population and increasing biofuel production. During a 2012 symposium organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Bangkok, rumen effi-

ciency and the types of feed used to sustain it were discussed. “In the past the main focus in ruminant livestock has been on maintaining productive output and fertility, with little regard to the cost of any methane, urea and carbon dioxide generated in the rumen for no return. “This is changing, with the need to free up cereals and starch products for direct human consumption making the loss of nutrients through inefficient rumen fermentation just as important as the financial and environmental costs. “These pressures may only


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NUTRITION just be surfacing, but they are sure to have an increasingly strong impact on the availability and cost of livestock feed materials in the future. It also highlights the need to make feed efficiency a priority going forward, and to continue doing so even when the pressure on margins has eased.” Optimum rumen function occurs in a relatively narrow pH range and, while the negative effects of acidosis (low rumen pH) are widely recognised, it is less known that a high rumen pH can also be detrimental. Conditions These more alkaline conditions (typically in excess of pH 6.2) can encourage the proliferation of methanogenic microbes which convert energy into methane, rather than volatile fatty acids (VFAs) which can be absorbed and used by the cow. “Maximum VFA production

Rumen pH in cows fed a total mixed ration during a 24-hour period Source: University of Stellenbosch, 2006

6.2 Time spent below pH Rumen conditioner* Sodium Bicarbonate Control


5.5 3.5 7.5 14

Period of high substrate availability but low saliva flow

5.8 pH 5.6 5.4 Feeding




Feeding 11

17 19 21 23 1 3 5 Time Control Sodium Bicarbonate Rumen conditioner* *Calcareous marine algae-based slow-release rumen conditioner Acid Buf

occurs when the rumen is kept above pH 5.5, ideally as close as possible to pH 6.0, and it is by minimising the time spent out-



side this range that efficiency gains are made,” says Dr McIlmoyle. “Traditional soluble buffers like sodium bicarbonate are still used by some, and are cheap, but many farmers are now switching to slow-release rumen conditioners, which can be both more cost-effective and have a greater impact in the rumen. “Both are capable of reducing the extent, rate and duration of rumen pH drop.” (See graph). “However, the slow-release buffer is clearly far more effective in minimising the amount of time the rumen spends at low pH. “There also appears to be significant disadvantages in how sodium bicarbonate exerts its


effect on rumen pH,” he says. In a recent trial carried out at the University of Georgia using early lactation Holsteins milked three times per day, a high-starch diet was fed on its own or with the addition of either a soluble buffer (sodium bicarbonate) or a slow-release rumen conditioner. Dry matter Cows fed the diet containing sodium bicarbonate consumed on average 1kg dry matter (DM) more than those fed the other diets, rising to 2kg DM/ cow/day extra by the end of the 10-week trial. However, in terms of milk yield, output failed to match that of the slow-release

Rumen buffering and conditioning has an important role to play Dr Derek McIlmoyle




**DF Oct p46 48 49 Nutrition Tucker.indd 4

15/09/2016 16:04

NUTRITION Comparison of rumen buffers in early lactation Holstein cows Negative control 22.9

Sodium bicarbonate 24.0

Rumen conditioner* 23.0

Dry matter intake (kg/day) Fat-corrected milk yield 44.4 46.5 48.7 (kg/day) Butterfat production 1.56 1.63 1.71 (kg/day) *Calcareous marine algae-based slow-release rumen conditioner Acid Buf Source: Trouw Nutrition rumen conditioner-treated ration. (See table). “The efficiency of cows on the diet containing the slow-release rumen conditioner was clearly ahead of those on either the sodium bicarbonate ration or the control,” says Dr McIlmoyle. “This backs up a previous large-scale production trial involving 800 milking cows in Florida. “Averaging 30kg of milk at 3.8% butterfat, a switch from sodium bicarbonate to the slow-release rumen conditioner for a two month period improved feed efficiency by 5%, year on year, resulting in almost double the daily margin over feed.” It appears sodium bicarbonate, although effective in maintaining rumen pH and reducing the risk of acidosis, also has a negative impact on rumen fermentation efficiency. In fact, it has been suggested the mechanism by which sodium bicarbonate reduces acidosis risk involves increasing the rate of passage through the rumen. Acidosis “If rapidly available starch, for example, is moved through the rumen faster, then clearly the potential for it to cause a build-up of the lactic acid responsible for acidosis is reduced,” Dr McIlmoyle says. “Such a theory would explain the increased DM and water intakes typically seen when sodium bicarbonate is fed, both of which would be driven by a faster rate of passage. “Although feeding sodium bicarbonate generally results in improved production compared to an untreated diet, the extra milk output is less than would be expected from the additional volume of feed consumed. “The problem of acidosis might be avoided, but there is a significant drop in feed efficiency caused by the higher rate of flow through the rumen and a reduction in the margin over feed which could have been achieved.”

Recent results looking at faecal quality from UK grass-based diets found a greater level of long fibre particles when cows were

fed sodium bicarbonate, confirming the reduction in fermentation efficiency. The mechanism by which sodium bicarbonate increases rate of passage is also becoming clear – rumen outflow rate is closely controlled to maintain carbon dioxide concentrations below certain limits, and sodium bicarbonate adds to the carbon dioxide level. “What is clear is rumen buffering and conditioning has an important role to play,” says Dr McIlmoyle. “Focus on feed efficiency, optimise the rumen environment and maximise the return from this winter’s rations, rather than just looking to avoid problems such as acidosis,” he advises.


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The dry cow ration was changed from grazed grass and a total mixed ration to dry cow rolls and a low potassium haylage.

A North Yorkshire family’s focus on dry cow nutrition and management has led to such an improvement in health and performance that they have won Premier Nutrition’s TMS Award for herds over 250 cows. Ann Hardy reports.

Improved transition management helps to lift herd performance


orth Yorkshire farmer Roger Cook had always taken the transition management of his 370-head herd of Holstein-Friesians very seriously. Farming with his wife Sarah and father John, at Burgate Farm, Harwood Dale, the whole team was aware of the impact a good transition could have on the subsequent lactation. So, when Mr Cook was approached by the farm’s nutritionist Paul Robinson, from Wm Thompson (York), to fine tune transition management and closely monitor outcomes, he was keen to take part in the scheme and see what improvements could be made.



Using Premier Nutrition’s Transition Management Service (TMS), the herd was visited monthly and monitored for a cross-section of parameters ranging from body condition score and rumen fill to fat:protein ratio and somatic cell count. From these and other parameters, four key areas reflecting transition health were awarded a score. “The four areas are metabolic disease, udder health, dry matter intake and energy status,” explains Mr Robinson. “If one particular area gets a low score, the farmer knows this is something to focus on improving.” Keen to make use of the service, Mr Cook explains: “If things go wrong with transition

you certainly notice it down the line – for instance, we saw this before we started the scheme with a lot of retained cleanings.” Estimating they occurred at an incidence as high as 15%, he says he knew they reflected a problem of dry period origin which had to be addressed. Calving “One of the first things we did was stop calving at grass and we now house throughout the entire transition period,” he says. “This not only gives us complete control over the diet but also allows us to monitor calving more closely.” At the same time, the ration was changed from grazed grass and a total mixed ration to dry

cow rolls and a low potassium haylage – with just the brief offer of the milking TMR for just over an hour a day to acclimatise the rumen in the closeto-calving group. “It is difficult to get intakes just right with a TMR in a small group, and it is also not easy to ensure mineral intake is correct for every cow,” says Mr Robinson, adding that at times there may only be small numbers coming through transition in this year-round calving herd. Recommending the dry cow rolls were fed at a rate of just over 2kg/head/day throughout the dry period, the team took his advice one step further to ensure each cow achieved the right intake.


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NUTRITION “We decided to run the close-up dry cows and heifers through the parlour every day,” says Mr Cook. “This is now done from three weeks before calving and means we know every animal has exactly what she needs in terms of DMI and minerals.” However, it transpired there was a further advantage to this approach, as heifers became acclimatised to using the parlour and the whole herd was much more closely monitored for a range of health issues. “This has been particularly important for mastitis,” says Mr Cook. “The symptoms are not always that obvious, but because we were dipping and feeling the udder every day, it would definitely be picked up earlier – and we often managed to cure mastitis originating in the dry period before calving.” A similar close watch was kept

bath and a hi-spec crush now allows immediate action to be more easily taken alongside routine footbathing, all of which has led to a marked improvement in lameness across the herd.

Roger Cook farms with his wife Sarah and father John.

on lameness which was also tackled much more quickly than before. “Lameness may not be thought of as a transition problem but I would argue it is more important during transition than at any other time,” says Mr Robinson. “If a cow is lame in the dry period, then that’s

usually it for the rest of her lactation – and she will certainly struggle to get in-calf.” Mr Cook adds: “If you have a lame dry cow it will be a lame fresh cow and that is a disaster because you can’t get the energy into them.” The installation of a new foot-

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Benefits But bringing dry cows and heifers through the parlour has had yet further benefits, as it also allows imminent calving to be picked up through the close attention being paid to udder development. “The fact they are housed six feet from where we live also helps,” says Mr Cook. “It means we can usually hear if a cow needs assistance and will always go and check.” Reducing difficult calvings is just one of many improvements which can be seen since the team has changed its transition management. Displaced abomasums are

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r370 Holstein cows yielding around 8500 litres rFriesian bloodlines recently introduced to improve strength of herd rTransition management tackled through monthly monitoring of key signals and an action plan rPlan included a complete change to dry cow feeding, housing and management rFeeding and teat-dipping close-up dry cows and heifers in the parlour daily was a key factor rOverall strategy led to fewer retained cleansings and DAs, less mastitis and lameness, more consistent body condition score and better fertility.

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Fertility Fertility has also improved and retained cleansings are now down to an impressive 1-2%, each case seen usually in a twinbearer. Asked which changes have had the most effect, Mr Cook says they have all played a part. “You could say we were not really managing the transition five or 10 years ago whereas now we are doing it actively,” he says. “Of course, we never get everything right, but every day is a school day. The more involved you are, the more you understand that if you have a good transition you will have a good lactation.”



Dry cows and heifers are put through the parlour so that they can be closely monitored.



almost non-existent, with just one having occurred in the past two years. Milk fever cases are few and there is rarely a clinical case, which is helped by the administration of a calcium bolus for all third and subsequent calvers, and also ‘any cow with cold ears’ at the first two milkings. “If she has cold ears she’ll almost certainly have sub-clinical milk fever,” says Mr Cook. Other signs acted upon include rumen fill, which is proving to be a fairly consistent indicator of dry matter intake. “If we are not getting rumen fill we may see a problem four or five days later,” says Mr Cook. “I’ll pump water and propylene glycol into cows without enough rumen fill. The water itself helps fill the rumen and prevent DAs and the propylene glycol helps keep energy up.”







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UK DAIRY DAY Despite hopes of a resolution to the merger talks of the Livestock Event and UK Dairy Day, the respective boards are still in discussion and an announcement is expected next month.

Show merger talks await board decision


olstein UK chief executive, Richard Jones, says he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the prospect of a merger between the two major dairy shows – UK Dairy Day and the Livestock Event – but considers himself ‘realistic’. He said negotiations continued between Holstein UK (organiser of UK Dairy Day) and the RABDF (organiser of

the Livestock Event) and that progress had been made. He said there were no sticking points in the negotiations, although he added: “Negotiations are never foregone conclusions.” However, an interim report had been prepared by both organisations and each of their boards would meet on October 11 when ‘a decision will be made’. “The interim report looked at both shows – the good and bad

of each – and looked at ways of bringing them together to create a ‘super show’ for UK dairy,” he said. Asked whether this was expected to be a one or two day event, he said: “If we wanted all dairy breeds at a ‘super show’ there’s a question of whether we could do it all in one day.” He was emphatic too any new event would be exclusively for dairy. “There will be no beef or sheep or anything else,” he said.

Speaking as the 2016 UK Dairy Day drew to a close, the show’s evident success appeared to strengthen HUK’s position. “It’s one of those days where everything went off brilliantly,” he said. “We had more trade exhibitors than last year, more cows and my feeling is that the footfall is up.” However, he described himself as ‘venue agnostic’ and said: “I await the final report and the decision of the two boards.”

Holstein champion, Knowlesmere Goldwyn Abrakaboom.

Dairy Shorthorn champion, Westonia Gay Lass 5.

JKnowlesmere Goldwyn Abrakaboom from the Whittaker family, Shropshire, took the champion Holstein at this year’s UK Dairy Day, held at Telford International Centre. Shown five weeks fresh, it is giving 45kg/day in its second lactation and was purchased as an embryo from the Canadian Kingsway herd. Taking the same title here last year, the Whittaker family’s Knowlesmere Adventure Dream was

champion Dairy Shorthorn at the Royal Cheshire Show as a second calver. Kedar Calvin Sanchia Maria, from Jonny Lochhead, Dumfries, and led by Jessica Miller, stole the limelight in the Brown Swiss judging, and was named champion. Having calved in April with her second, it is giving 30kg/day at 4% fat and 3.7% protein. Nine-and-a-half-year-old Loukat Lucky from Richard Bown,

Whittaker family secures double honours



**DF Oct p52 53 UK Dairy Day.indd 2

tapped out as red and white champion, which also came third in its class at the European Holstein Championship at Colmar this year. Westonia Gay Lass 5, from Roger Stockton and Rob Morgan, Whitchurch, received the Dairy Shorthorn championship title during her first time out as a fourth-calver. A previous Dairy Show winner, she was bred by Mr Stockton, who milks 400 cows at his Shropshire farm. It took reserve

Worcester, took the Ayrshire championship. Bred by Alex Craig, Holmes Chapel, she calved in January with her fifth and is giving 40kg/day. Taking top spot in the Jersey section was second-calver Honeyfields Tequila Lets Dance from James and Nicky Hudson and Beth Ford, Nantwich. This homebred cow is by Tequila and out of Rapid Bay UK Reputation Lets Dance.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 10:06


WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR MILK? You are invited to come along to hear how the panel of distinguished industry commentators sees the future for milk, especially in the new Brexit era. Join us at the Dairy Show, on the Dairy Farmer/ Farmers Guardian stand (number 75, outside the Sparkford Building on Avenue B) at 11.00am


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Processors must act to safeguard supplies


he EU’s Milk Supply Reduction Scheme has been described as ‘too little, too late’ by Michael Oakes, NFU dairy board chairman. Speaking at UK Dairy Day – held just a few days after the Rural Payments Agency launched the scheme’s application process – he said the scheme would have been more useful to UK producers 18 months ago and that they had already responded to market signals and were rapidly dropping production. However, he said the overall reduction in supply across Europe – now given extra impetus by the scheme – gave UK farmers an opportunity to negotiate better terms and conditions with their milk buyers. “Processors have over-cooked it now – they are not going to get the milk they need,” he said. “This creates an opportunity for farmers to talk to processors who may be

in an uncomfortable situation.” Urging processors to send clear signals to the industry ‘extremely quickly’, he said: “Behind the scenes, they are very aware they are not going to have the milk they need to fulfil their contracts.” However, he added this would be good news for dairy farmers. “It will focus processors’ minds as if they don’t send some sharp signals, farmers will take advantage of the scheme.” Statutory Furthermore, he said the NFU was talking to Government about new legislation around the code of practice on contractual relationships, with a view to making the code statutory rather than voluntary. Suggesting producers were gaining the upper hand, he said this was a ‘turning point’ and farmers should now address the balance of power. However, he said for some

Michael Oakes: turning point.

producers the reduction scheme would be the best choice and that interest at the show suggested there could be a ‘rush for the money’. “We have had massive interest on the stand today,” he said. “I think demand for the first tranche [cutting production in the three months from October to December 2016] will be so high the money will be gone. This is especially the case since France and Germany have doubled their

Long-lived Yorkshire cow beats strong competition JGenus ABS has announced the winner of its Long Life Cow Award which this year goes to Bradla Miranda 4 EX94, from Silsden, West Yorkshire. Owned by A and SC Throup and Sons, Miranda was born in February 2002 and has given more than 100 tonnes of milk. Miranda was purchased by the Throup family from a cousin as part of a restocking programme, and has lived her life in the Yorkshire Dales. She beat stiff competition from three regional finalists. South: Goonhilly Zest Rose EX92, a 12th lactation Holstein-Friesian owned by Messrs Tripconey, Cornwall.



**DF Oct p54 56 UK Dairy Day.indd 2

Allan Throup with Bradla Miranda 4.

Central: Amber Lovely Lily 28 EX90, a 15th lactation Shorthorn cow with a lifetime yield of 111 tonnes, owned by J Hole and Sons, Ashover, Derbyshire.

Northern Ireland: Ards Shottle Belinda EX94, a Holstein from Messrs Patton, Newtownards, Co Down, with 100 tonnes in nine lactations.

payment to farmers with money from their own pot.” Emphasising the importance of making the decision on an individual farm basis, he said the scheme may suit those who had already decided to leave milk production and could go out earlier, or those who may be selling just a few cows. However, he warned: “Farmers have to be conscious of what it will do to their production profiles and any penalty they might get for not meeting their profiles. They might be blinded by the money and forget the consequences.” But some farmers at the show were not aware of the scheme nor of the fact that the application period for the first tranche of money was less than two weeks long (Sept 10-21).

Product designed to pre-digest fibre JA liquid pre-feed treatment from AB Vista is said to be the only product of its kind to ‘pre-digest’ fibre before it is consumed. Promoted at the event, the product, VistaPre-T, creates pits on the fibre surface which increases the surface area for bacterial colonisation once it is in the rumen. This is said to improve the digestibility and increase the energy extracted from fibre feeds such as forages and many co-products. Improvements in performance of around one litre/head/day are claimed, with no detrimental effect on milk composition. It is also said to reduce non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels which are associated with negative energy balance. Cost is around 12-13p/cow/day.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 10:25


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Wage war on digital dermatitis


ith many dairy farmers now facing an ongoing battle to keep digital dermatitis at a low level within their herds, new protocols on controlling the disease must be considered. This was the advice from Jon Reader, from the dairy cattle mobility steering group, who said it was important to keep the bacteria which cause digital dermatitis in a ‘dormant’ state. “Once a cow has got digital dermatitis this bacteria, known as treponemes, are not going to go

away, and if you are not careful you will get secondary infections.” He also advised farmers to be on the lookout for ischaemic teat necrosis, a teat condition thought to be linked to the digital dermatitis treponeme, which causes cattle to excessively lick and remove their own teats. Footbathing When controlling the disease in feet, Mr Reader advised footbathing daily to prevent infections progressing into more serious cases, but said the more advanced cases of the disease needed treatment

Footbathing daily can help prevent infections.

with an antibiotic spray and a bandage if desired. “Research has shown there is no real benefit of using bandages over topical treatments. But if you are going to use them, then you need to make sure they are not being left on for too long. I am seeing a lot of people moving away from using them, and I do not think that’s necessarily a bad thing.” When it comes to footbathing, Mr Reader said there was no place for antibiotics in footbaths and

while there were many products on the market, formalin was still considered to be the gold standard. Mr Reader explained the product was still highly effective, but due to rule changes surrounding its use it was vital formalin was used responsibly. “You need to make footbathing an easy process to carry out, and it needs to be done regularly, but you should not be relying on a footbath to treat the severe digital dermatitis lesions,” he said.

Benefits of manure assessment Dairying needs engineers JManure assessment is the simplest way for farmers to gain a better understanding about what is happening in the cow’s rumen and how their ration is performing. Dr Helen Warren, from Alltech, explained while looking at muck was not an exact science it was useful to give an indication of any problems. She said farmers should look for colour, consistency and content. Dr Warren also recommended carrying out muck sieving to see what impact changes in the ration



**DF Oct p54 56 UK Dairy Day.indd 3

were having on how the rumen was breaking down the feed. “We advise placing a handful of manure in the top part of the muck sieve and blasting it with water until the water runs clear. “You want most material to be in the bottom sieve, as this shows the ration is being well digested. “Undigested grains and fibres will indicate there may be a problem with the ration, in which case changes should be made and the test repeated again in a week’s time to see progress.”

JThe Milking Equipment Association has put out a call for more people to train as parlour engineers. David Wenner from GEA, a founder member of the MEA, said the industry needed more people to support the advanced electronics, robotics and mon-

itoring systems used in milk production and they should be suitably and more broadly qualified. “If we do not recruit more young people, the price of dairy engineer services – if they are in short supply – will really go up,” he said.

Cross-breeding package launch JThe complications of cross-breeding and the problem of deciding which breed to use after the first cross – have been addressed through a new alliance involving ABA Viking. The ProCROSS system, to be marketed as a genetic and advisory package by ABA Viking in the UK, is claimed to be the most profitable cross-breeding programme in the world and the first such system which is ‘science led’. Involving a three-way cross

using the Holstein, Montbeliarde and Viking Red, the breeds have been chosen for their diverse yet complementary qualities which will come together in a breeding rotation which is said to optimise and sustain hybrid vigour. Backed by research from the University of Minnesota, each pure-bred bull offered through the scheme will be given an index to indicate his suitability for cross-breeding and his genetic qualities.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 10:25

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UK DAIRY DAY Rearing replacement heifers at grass is a delicate balancing act between lowering costs and achieving pre-determined 24-month calving targets. Ann Hardy reports.

Heifers at grazing can still meet their targets


roducers attending UK Dairy Day were told they could save £6 per head for every week their replacement heifers spent at grass. But if extended grazing meant they failed to meet target growth rates to achieve two year calving, then attempting to prolong the grazing season could be a costly mistake. This message reflects research undertaken by AHDB Dairy with the Royal Veterinary College, which has formed the basis of the levy board’s recent ‘Calf to Calving’ campaign and its ‘Heifer Rearing Cost Calculator’. Speaking at the event, AHDB Dairy’s Andy Dodd, said: “We have been keen to highlight the benefits of keeping heifers at grass and it is certainly possible to save £6 per head for every week spent grazing,” “But the success of the system depends on maintaining the quality of grass right through the season and anything which jeopardises calving at 24 months could be counter-productive.” In practice, he said this meant maintaining a metabolisable energy (ME) of 12MJ/kg DM into autumn which would only be achieved if grassland management was first-rate. “There is a big difference between an ME of 10 and an ME of 12 and, if you are not hitting 12, you may need to supplement with around 2kg of concentrates,” he said. “Equally, you may need to supplement if dry matter intakes for some reason fall.” Supplementing concentrates at grass was said to be cheaper than bringing heifers indoors and on



**DF Oct p58 UK Dairy Day Targets.indd 2

Calving heifers at 24 months is the most important of all targets, says AHDB Dairy’s Andy Dodd.

to a fully-housed ration, where the cost of silage and bedding considerably outweighs the cost of rearing off grass. Monitoring Regular monitoring was essential but target growth rates were dependent on the herd’s mature size and should be calculated accordingly. “Growth rates are particular to each farm – heifers should be 60% of their mature weight at bulling and 90% of their mature weight at calving,” said Mr Dodd. “For example, if your cows weigh 600kg, your heifers will need to weigh 360kg at bulling, which – assuming a birth weight of about 40kg – means they’ll need to grow 320kg in about 15 months, or 450 days,” he said. Remarking that this evens out at about 0.7kg/day up to the

Heifers should be 60% of their mature weight at bulling and 90% of their mature weight at calving Andy Dodd

point of bulling, he added: “That doesn’t mean they have to grow at this rate every day but it does mean this should be their average daily growth rate. “They may, for example, grow faster in spring when grass growth is at its peak, and tail off a little

later in the year,” he said. “As long as you are monitoring their performance, that should not be a problem as you’ll know if you slip behind target.” However, he said calving heifers at 24 months was the most important of all targets and failure to do so could substantially outweigh the benefits of keeping heifers at grass. “It costs an extra £20/animal for each week’s delay in calving after 24 months, so farmers should never lose sight of this as their principal goal,” he said. n The Heifer Rearing Cost Calculator on the AHDB Dairy website can help in calculating the financial effects of changes made to heifer management. Further information on heifer rearing, including the Calf to Calving campaign, can be found at

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 10:10

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MILK prices Big buyers get into gear JCommodity markets continue to strengthen fuelled by lower milk supplies both here and across Europe, and following a spate of milk price increases made by smaller milk buyers, the two largest milk buyers in the UK, Arla Foods and Müller Milk & Ingredients, have now sprung into gear lifting milk prices from Sept’16 and Oct’16 respectively. Arla Foods amba increased its on-account price for conventional milk by 1.25 euro cents per kg (1.01p per kg) from Sept’16 taking our liquid standard litre* up to 20.05ppl. This includes the company’s forecast 13th payment currently set at 0.73ppl.

Muller Müller Milk & Ingredients, having decided to hold its standard prices for September, has increased its Müller Milk Group standard non-aligned price by 0.9ppl, taking our liquid standard price up to 19.56ppl, while the price paid to Direct Milk (ex Dairy Crest DCD) suppliers is to increase by 1.189ppl to

19.19ppl as price harmonisation between the two groups commences. This price alignment is said to be at the request of the farmer board and will be phased in to ensure all non-aligned producers supplying the business can benefit from the same liquid price. Both prices are before the monthly retail supplement with the last confirmed payment being 2.894ppl for Jul’16 supplies. However, it is Somerset family cheese business, Wyke Farms, which is currently casting a shadow over most other non-aligned milk prices. Having rescinded its 1ppl cut from July and adding a further 1ppl from August, the company pushed the boat out further with 2ppl increase from Sept’16. This latest increase takes our liquid standard litre up to 22.30ppl and our manufacturing standard litre* to 23.07ppl. This latest move takes the company’s total price increase to 4ppl in just three months.

Glanbia Cheese boost JFollowing its 2ppl increase for Sept’16, Glanbia Cheese (Llangefni) has increased its milk price by a further 2.5ppl from Oct’16, taking the company’s total level of price



**DF Oct p60 61 62 Milk Prices.indd 2

increase since Jul’16 to 6.5ppl. The increase, via constituents, takes our liquid standard up 2.41ppl to 22.29ppl and on our manufacturing standard by 2.5ppl to 23.04ppl.

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 11:36

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

News in brief... Fresh Milk Company goes for 2.5p JThe Fresh Milk Company (Lactalis) has brought 0.5ppl of its 1ppl increase from Oct’16 forward a month, thereby increasing its already confirmed 2ppl increase to 2.5ppl from Sept’16. The remaining 0.5ppl of the original 1ppl increase from Oct’16 will then be paid maintaining the previous confirmed prices for Oct’16. For our liquid standard litre the Oct’16 price is 21.0ppl, rising to 21.57ppl on the profile option (fixed at a rolling 12mths average of 0.57ppl), while our manufacturing standard litre rises to 21.73ppl with the profile option lifting to 22.30ppl. These prices are before the Morrisons retail

supplements on cheese (latest being 0.287ppl for Jul’16). In recognition of the cashflow issues many of the company’s farmers are currently facing, the company has also agreed with the MSA that for Sept’16 and Oct’16 an exceptional mid-month payment will be made. This will be paid on the 20th of each month and will be based on the first 15 days of actual supply. The normal monthly payment will follow as usual on the 15th of the following month. This will capture the 2.5ppl milk price increase from Sept 1’16 and start delivering it to producers 25 days earlier than the normal payment cycle.

First Milk’s fast response JWishing to pass back returns to members as quickly as possible, First Milk eventually made three price increases for Sept’16 as markets continued to develop on a weekly basis through August. The final increase takes our liquid standard litre for Mainland Scotland up by 1.29ppl to 18.02ppl, with Midlands & East Wales up 1ppl in total to 17.19ppl.

Applying the increases to our manufacturing standard litre, Lake District price increases by 1.67ppl to 19.46ppl, while our Haverfordwest price increases by the same amount to 20.50ppl, which includes the Tesco cheese group payment estimated at 0.91ppl for Sept’16. The company’s B price for Sept’16 is confirmed at 20.0ppl.

* Our Liquid standard litre is 4%b/f & 3.3% protein, and our Manufacturing 4.2%b/f & 3.4% protein. In both cases it is for Bactoscans of 30,000/ml & SCCs of 200,000/ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC but before B pricing, balancing, seasonality, monthly profile payments, capital deductions or annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement.

OCTOBER 2016 **DF Oct p60 61 62 Milk Prices.indd 3


61 15/09/2016 16:08

MILK PRICES Latest milk prices from LIQUID PRICES (4% b/f & 3.3% prot) Müller Milk Group – Booths Müller Direct Milk – Waitrose ∞ Müller Direct Milk – M&S ∞ Müller Milk Group – Sainsbury’s Müller Direct Milk – Sainsbury’s Arla Foods – Sainsbury’s Müller Milk Group – Tesco Arla Foods – Tesco Müller Milk Group – The Co-op Dairy Group Müller Direct Milk – Liquid Formula ∞ Müller Direct Milk – Formula Simplified Liquid Crediton Dairy Blackmore Vale Farm Cream UK Arla Farmers – Tesco Yew Tree Dairy Grahams Dairies Dale Farm GB (Kendal) UK Arla Farmers – Liquid Freshways Müller Milk Group – Standard Pensworth Dairy Müller Direct Milk – Standard Liquid ∞ Paynes Farms Dairies Meadow Foods Meadow Foods Lakes Dale Farm NI ≠ First Milk – Scottish Mainland Balancing First Milk – Midlands & East Wales Balancing Simple Average Simple Average (excl. retail contracts) MANUFACTURING PRICES (4.2% b/f & 3.4% prot) Parkham Farms D.C – Davidstow ∞ Wensleydale Dairy Products UK Arla Farmers – Manufacturing Barber A.J & R.G Belton Cheese Wyke Farms The Fresh Milk Company – Level Profile ‡ The Fresh Milk Company (Lactalis) South Caernarfon First Milk – Haverfordwest Glanbia – Llangefni (Constituent) Arla Foods – Direct Manufacturing First Milk – Lake District Solids Simple Average ‘B’ Price Indicators FCStone/ UKMFE (gross) FCStone/ UKMFE (net) Delivered spot milk (net to the producer)

May’16 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

Jun’16 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

12mth Ave Jul’15 Jun’16

Diff Jun’16 v May’16

Latest Confirmed Milk Price

(i) 32.00 31.55 30.47 29.98 29.92 29.86 28.69 28.44 25.94 24.67 24.60 23.36 21.25 21.54 20.75 20.50 20.64 20.12 19.93 19.15 19.40 18.49 18.20 18.00 18.00 17.74 16.22 15.66 23.04 19.82

(ii) 32.00 30.88 30.47 29.98 29.92 29.86 28.69 28.44 25.94 24.54 24.47 22.36 20.50 20.54 20.00 20.50 20.64 19.12 19.11 18.66 18.65 18.00 18.20 17.00 17.00 17.74 15.88 15.34 22.66 19.32

(iii) 32.50 31.81 31.60 30.51 30.45 30.39 30.38 30.13 27.65 26.20 26.13 24.61 23.50 23.25 22.88 22.83 22.47 22.11 21.84 21.63 21.09 20.98 20.41 18.92 18.92 18.61 17.89 17.34 24.54 21.58

(i) v (ii) N/C -0.67 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.13 -0.13 -1.00 -0.75 -1.00 -0.75 N/C N/C -1.00 -0.83 -0.49 -0.75 -0.49 N/C -1.00 -1.00 N/C -0.34 -0.32

(iv) 30.50 30.27 30.47 29.30 29.24 29.18 28.71 28.46 25.56 27.33 27.25 23.00 20.50 21.47 20.00 20.50 20.64 20.05 19.94 19.56 20.50 19.19 19.20 20.00 20.00 19.24 18.02 17.19

29.88 22.72 21.20 20.90 20.92 20.75 19.96 18.67 18.10 17.03 17.74 16.54 16.65 16.95 19.86

29.88 21.72 21.20 19.86 20.92 19.75 19.96 17.63 17.06 17.03 17.29 16.54 15.72 16.49 19.36

31.64 24.44 23.59 22.97 22.94 22.68 22.27 21.61 21.04 20.88 20.78 20.35 19.44 18.94 22.40

N/C -1.00 N/C -1.03 N/C -1.00 N/C -1.04 -1.04 N/C -0.44 N/C -0.93 -0.46

29.90 22.72 21.20 20.82 22.98 21.75 23.07 22.30 21.73 22.53 20.50 23.04 19.76 19.46

16.65 13.82 11.50

18.97 16.02 19.75

17.04 14.19

2.32 2.20 8.25

Notes to table Prices for both Liquid & Manufacturing tables paid for producer sending 1mltrs/yr on EODC with Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml. Prices exclude capital retentions or AHDB levies, seasonality, B prices and balancing schemes. Excludes annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement. Liquid price for milk contains 4% b/f and 3.3% protein. Manufacturing price for milk containing 4.2%/b/f and 3.4% prot. (i) May’16 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (ii) Jun’16 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (iii) Table ranked on simple rolling 12mth average of monthly prices before seasonality or B pricing. (i) v (ii) The difference of Jun’16 prices compared with May’16. UK Arla Farmers prices include forecast 13th payment +0.73ppl. Müller Milk Group & Direct Milk standard prices quoted before monthly supplements for Jun’16 of +3.047ppl. Grahams price before monthly supplement +1.7ppl for Jun’16. First Milk Haverfordwest includes Tesco Cheese Group Premium of 0.76ppl for Jun’16. Fresh Milk Company price before Morrisons monthly cheese supplement +0.315ppl for Jun’16. ∞ Price includes 12mth rolling profile payment fixed at 1.15ppl. ∞^ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment fixed at 0.52ppl. ‡ Price includes 12mth average rolling profile fixed at 0.57ppl. Müller Direct Formula price assume 100% of producer supply. UK Milk Futures Equivalent (UKMFE) net to producer includes 5% processor margin and allowing 2ppl ex-farm haulage + milk testing. Average delivered spot milk price net to producer allows an average 2.5ppl covering haulage from farm to customer + milk testing/admin and margin. (iv) Latest confirmed milk price (before seasonality or B pricing) at the time of going to press. UK Arla Farmers 1ppl increase from Sept’16 includes forecast 13th payment +0.73ppl. All prices (excluding First Milk) are before monthly retail supplements. First Milk Haverfordwest price for Sept’16 includes TSDG Cheese Supplement (estimated at 0.91ppl for Sept’16). Tesco Promar 0.5ppl bonus disbanded from May’16 with Promar cost reinbursed directly to the producer. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:



**DF Oct p60 61 62 Milk Prices.indd 4

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 16:08

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NEW products Lightweight work boots JA new lightweight boot, which can keep feet warm at temperatures down to -30degC, has been introduced into the Border range by Protecto, and is available through Dairy Spares. Ideal for farm work, the Challenger boot is made of flexible but tough polyurethane and has an anti-slip sole. Their ability to resist corrosion from chemicals means the boots can last three times longer than conventional PVC rubber boots, claims the firm. A full safety boot with steel toe cap and mid-sole moulded smoothly into the boot is also available. Challenger boots are sold in UK sizes 7-12. The Full Safety Challenger Boot costs £47.49 plus VAT, and the non-safety Challenger Boot £43.89 + VAT. n Details on 01948 667 676 or

Speedier mixing with feeder modifications


wo new modifications to the Strautmann range of mixer wagons will allow farmers to save on labour and

cut costs. The firm says a ‘stepped’ auger – the Vario2 – speeds mixing time and reduces labour and tractor use. An optional wear strip made of innodur stainless steel will reduce corrosion of the auger between mixes, prolonging its lifetime. All Strautmann mixer wagons will now come fitted with a Vario2 auger as standard. Its stepped design enables a good mix to be achieved more quickly. Longer term, machinery repair and replacement costs can be reduced by requesting the innodur stainless steel wear


**DF Oct p64 65 New Products.indd 2

strip to be fitted to the leading edge of the auger. This is a replaceable part, further extending machine lifetime. For a VertiMix 951 single auger feeder this

option retails at £272 plus VAT, and for a VertiMix 3101 doubleauger feeder £943 plus VAT. n Details on www.strautmann.

Wire-free rear vision camera for trailer work JHyndsight Vision Systems Journey 1 is a lightweight, wire free camera and monitor unit to assist rear vision and manoeuvring when towing a trailer. Mounted easily on any surface in seconds, no wiring is needed and a clear image with


This month, we feature mixer wagon modifications, new shredders, a rear view camera unit, plus a footcare app and some lightweight work boots.

true depth of field is transmitted instantly. Supplied as a complete kit, the camera includes a 4.8-inch wireless sunlight readable monitor, a wide-angle camera with a non-fish-eyed view, two flush mounts, an antenna set and two chargers all in a protective case.

The water resistant monitor will work up to 100 yards away from the camera making this system suitable for any towing situation. The system runs on rechargeable batteries or it can be hardwired into a vehicle. n Details on

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:49


Three new machines for shredder range App to manage JKuhn Farm Machinery has added three new machines to its range of grassland and roadside shredders. Designed for field borders and road verges to pastures, they are fitted with a central fixed linkage system to keep costs down. A 2.4-metre model the BP 24 extends the range of multi-purpose shredders and joins the existing BP 28 (2.79m working width) and BP 30 (3.03m working width) machines. As with all machines in the range, the casing is constructed from robust, 6mm thick metal with 8mm sidewalls. Two counter-blades (one notched


digital dermatitis

and one smooth) are welded to the casing. Cutting tools are arranged in a helical pattern to give a clean cutting action and to produce perfect residue suction and spread. The rotor is driven by four high-capacity XPB V-belts and operates at

either 540 or 1000 rpm. The TBE 10 Series is new to the offset verge shredders range with the TBE 19 (1.79m working width) and the TBE 22 (2.14m working width) which can be used with 60-110hp tractors. ■ Details on 01952 239 300.

JProvita’s customised mobile app allows farmers, vets and other professionals to measure and continuously manage digital dermatitis. Designed to be easily used in the parlour, input of information includes recording colour, size and appearance of lesions. Once details are entered, it is automatically submitted to Provita, whose technical team designs a farm-specific hoofcare plan. Provita products can then be used at the correct dilution rates, depth and frequency. Farmers will be able to see the level of digital dermatitis on their farm before and after management changes. ■ Details on 0800 3284 982 or 0772 0101 444.

New products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send details and pictures to Jennifer MacKenzie at, or call 07977 397 258.

Home of the FARM SYSTEMS Mayo Mattress Proudly Partnering British Farmers for Almost 30 Years • Mayo Cow Comfort Mattresses & Farm Flooring • Mayo Automatic Hydraulic Scraper Systems • Mayo Husbandry Equipment (Feed Barriers, Drinkers, Cubicles) • Mayo Calf Rearing


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OCTOBER 2016 **DF Oct p64 65 New Products.indd 3


65 15/09/2016 15:49


WORKSHOP tips with Mike Donovan This month, Mike Donovan looks at ways of keeping your cows cool.

Avoid heat stress by installing fans


They will also use a breeze, stay ecent hot weather in the shade and flick water on has caused stress in themselves. When these meassome herds which are housed year round and ures aren’t enough, the heat load builds and they become uncomwith that comes a fall fortable and heat stressed. off in production. Heat load shows itself by pantCattle in sheds will find ing (>60 breaths/min), temperatures approaching restlessness, crowd30degC and they need ing around the good ventilation. water trough and Yet the problem is l splashing, agithese hot periods ia c r e m rComfans which d tation and not are usually shortceiling cost aroun wanting to lie lived in the UK in are 56 £100 down. The cow’s and many produappetite drops, the cers think they will rumen is less active, get by without doing and milk production anything. then suffers. Cows manage their heat load Vertically installed fans move by re-directing blood flow with air horizontally from one side of more to their skin and less to the gut, uterus and internal organs. the shed to another and these



Central fan in housing is vital in maintaining correct air flow, drawing air in from the top vent and pushing it out the sides of the building.



**DF Oct p66 Donovan.indd 2

A low cost parlour ceiling fan keeps air moving and flies away.

are best fitted to work the same direction as the prevailing wind. The area of action is generally quite limited, so a number of fan units will be needed to create air movement throughout a large cattle shed. Ceiling fans Ceiling fans move air vertically and have larger blades and greater capacity. They move air throughout the building and not only provide cooling ventilation in the summer but in winter can be used to return warm air in the ceiling back to floor level. Big fans take a considerable amount of power, particularly when starting, and large ones are

generally fitted with three-phase motors. I have searched through the 25 years issues of Practical Farm Ideas, and there is not one homebuilt ceiling fan to be seen,. So the challenge must be to make your own. You’ll find the benefits are far greater than you might have imagined.

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

OCTOBER 2016 16/09/2016 11:29

Subscribe and stay informed with VIP Member benefits at no extra cost l Includes free App edition weekly l All for £34.50 per quarter or one-off payment of £144 l

Subscribe today! Visit enter EHADF or call 01635 879 320 quote EHADF FG post launch price rise (dairy) EHAAF 184Wx124H.indd 1

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GOOD Evans I told them my forte was sex and violence This month Roger Evans tells us about his brush with export regulations and how the British make hard work of them, relates his holiday experience in Crete, and finally how he mingled (or not) with the literati at a special writers’ lunch.



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orry if I seem to be going on a bit about this, but those of you who voted Brexit expecting to see a red tape bonfire will be disappointed. I’m right there with you in hating all the bureaucracy that came from Brussels, but don’t think, for one minute, all that will go away. That’s because when we were told that officialdom in this country ‘gold plated’ EEC legislation, that is exactly what they did. I have no doubt at all that when new EC rules turned up in Whitehall there was a culture that said “we will enforce this to every degree possible and if we can find a few other bits that we think should be included, we will add those in as well”. I have no doubt either that when the same legislation turned up in somewhere like Paris, the culture they had would seek to make the same legislation less onerous. Many years ago I used to export game products to Rungis market, south of Paris. My product had to be tagged, sealed in expensive boxes, identified by number and veterinary inspected at packing and despatch. At the time I wasn’t allowed to take out game on a lorry with other produce, so

you had to hire a whole lorry every time. All this was very expensive. Now I’ve been to Rungis market several times and some game turned up loose, looking to all intents as if it had come over the border in a wheelbarrow. The point I am making with my example is that it wasn’t a problem getting it into France like that, it was problem which occurred getting it out of the UK. If rules are carried out to the nth degree, it keeps lots of people busy, and if they look busy they are more likely to keep their jobs. Stands to reason and who can blame them. Crete A family relative had booked a holiday in Crete and couldn’t go. I’m always interested in a holiday and a bargain, so I went instead. Not the best of ideas, Crete, at the end of July. I spent the first three days out in the sun and the last four skulking about in the shade, the colour of an overcooked lobster. It’s a favourite maxim of mine that everything in life is relative, and Crete in midsummer is so hot and dry that never again do I want to hear anyone here, including me, saying they could do with some rain. One little travel tip I can pass on to you.

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:52


Some looked to all intents as if it had come over the border in a wheelbarrow

When it comes to removing scratches from hire cars, Brasso is the must have accessory. It is much better that nail varnish and is readily available in Crete supermarkets. The main topic of conversation among travellers, now that the pound has weakened, is “how many euros did you get for £1?” It’s been a sort of one-upmanship. “Is that all you got, I got one more euro that that.” It doesn’t make that much difference in the scheme of things, especially when you are on holiday and there are people trying to rip you off at every turn. I didn’t make a fuss of it, I just ordered some euros from the bank. I don’t even know what exchange rate I had. But what I will say is if a weaker pound eventually puts a penny on the price of milk, and it should, then that’s the sort of thing that does make a real difference. I get invited to this lunch. It’s for people who write about the countryside. There’s people there who write about hunting, shooting and fishing, and wildlife, and food. I don’t know anyone there and I’m quite happy for that to continue. There’s

no other farmers there, no kindred spirits. I get myself seated out of the way and try to guess what each one writes about. Retreat I soon give that up as there’s no way of finding out unless I talk to them and I’ve no burning desire to do that. So I sit there trying to look grumpy, which I can do reasonably well, and they largely keep away except for a lady who tells me what a good writer her husband is, and he overhears her so he comes and tells me as well. Eventually they ask me what I write about and I say sex and violence in the countryside, which is partly true, and they beat a hasty retreat. The lunch was excellent and I must have dropped my guard a bit because in the space of 10 minutes two people (probably emboldened by the drink) come up and ask me if I am a bacon curer. I’m still thinking about that and I still haven’t thought it through. In the meantime, if anyone knows what bacon curers look like, perhaps they’ll get in touch.

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71 15/09/2016 15:52

FINANCE The world of having to die with your assets may no longer be the case, as Nick Millard, president of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, explains.

Careful planning needed over IHT

This new relief may be better than APR for any house worth up to £500,000 and will apply where APR would fail


hanges to Inheritance Tax rules could make it easier for farmers to pass on their assets tax free, although diversified estates and second property owners face an additional tax burden. On the positive side, next April sees a new relief from Inheritance Tax which may prove more helpful for some houses on farms than Agricultural Property Relief (APR). The new Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) is due to be phased in from April 2017, giving new options for inheritance planning. The RNRB will initially have a

Expert opinion rThe upside of the new Residence Nil Rate Band is that the relief is fundamentally objective, whereas Agricultural Property Relief is subjective and all turns around the final two years of your life.



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threshold of £100,000, building to £175,000 by April 2020. It offers complete relief from Inheritance Tax (up to the threshold) on a house lived in by the deceased at any time, provided the net estate is worth £2m or less at the time of death and the house is given to a lineal descendant or spouse. It can also be transferred between married couples or civil partners, potentially doubling up the value of the relief on one property. This new relief may be better than APR for any house worth up to £500,000 and will apply where APR would fail, say when the day-to-day farming is no longer done from the house. It could also be used to relieve the taxable value of a house left after APR has been used, or relieve another house while APR is claimed on the actual farmhouse. Incentive The RNRB offers a powerful incentive to pass assets on well before death to keep your estate under £2m. It also gives some older farmers the option of letting their land out while still having IHT relief on their home. However, on the other side, HMRC continues its attack on property investors, which could have significant implications for diversified farmers and rural estates. Although the current Finance Bill reduces the main rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to 20%, it leaves housing taxed at 28%. With 100% Principal Private Residence relief available on a property owner’s main house, this higher charge applies on all other dwellings. Mainly aimed at buy to let and second homes, it appears to catch people who inherit extra houses

or part shares, or who join their children in buying a home. And where a farm is sold, the gain on extra dwellings will be assessed and taxed at the higher rate. Development The new rules raise issues on development, as while selling land with planning permission is not caught, as soon as work has started – say on a barn conversion – it will be subject to the higher rate of CGT on disposal or gift. This presents considerable challenges when it comes to defining residential property, and calculating the capital gain, which may go back to 1982 base values. Similarly, only taxpayers who have a clear understanding of the value of their assets will be able to take full benefit of the new IHT relief. Employing an experienced and qualified valuer in these cases will be essential. From April 2019 the tax must be paid within 30 days of the ownership transfer, which could create serious cash flow difficulties for anyone handing properties over to the next generation. Other recent changes already in effect, intended to discourage people moving into the buyto-let market, include phasing out higher rate tax relief on mortgage interest on dwellings, replacing the 10% fair wear and tear with actual costs, and an additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland) on purchases of additional dwellings. Largely focused on new activity, these measures may actually assist existing letting businesses by limiting the market, potentially reducing voids and increasing rents.

OCTOBER 2016 15/09/2016 15:55

Lamma WP.indd 1

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Now that we’re moving from BVD control to eradication, and with BVD estimated to cost £40 per cow per year1,2, you’ll want a vaccine that is proven to deliver a full 12 months’ prevention of foetal infection, against both types of BVD, after a single injection. We know vaccination doesn’t always happen on time3, but with Bovela you can be guaranteed* to deliver protection with each shot, using the latest in live vaccine technology. With over 400,000 cattle in the UK protected already4, are you on the road to making BVD history?

Ask your vet for more information.

Herd protection made simple

References: 1. Stott et al (2010) Vet J 185: 138–143 2. Stott et al (2012) IVJ 65:12 3. Meadows (2010) Cattle Practice 18(3): 202-215 4. GfK August 2016. *Proven to prevent the birth of PI calves caused by transplacental infection by BVDV for 12 months when Bovela has been used as recommended in the product label (SPC). Advice on the use of Bovela or other therapies should be sought from your veterinary surgeon. Bovela lyophilisate and solvent for suspension for injection for cattle contains modified live BVDV-1, non-cytopathic parent strain KE-9: 104.0 –106.0 TCID50, Modified live BVDV-2, non-cytopathic parent strain NY-93: 104.0 –106.0 TCID50. UK: POM-V. Further information available from Boehringer Ingelheim Limited, Vetmedica, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8YS, UK. Technical enquiries: +44 (0)1344 746957. Email: Date of preparation: Aug 2016. AHD9447. Use Medicines Responsibly (

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