Page 1


September 2018

Vet’s View

Tom Downes talks trace elements Page 26-27 Volume 65 Issue 9


A look at Dairy Show and UK Dairy Day Pages 46-67

For a typical 8,000 litre, 200 cow herd, the extra profit to be gained from using SexedULTRA 4M and Cogent Beef Impact semen over conventional dairy and beef semen would be £11,225pa. This equates to 0.7ppl and a return of investment of 8:1


Four times-a-day milking in Wisconsin Pages 36-41


Cows play key role in organic vegetable unit Pages 10-12 WIN SHOW TICKETS Page 5

Tip of the month: Tackling milk price volatility at Speakers Corner – p63

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16/08/2018 09:14


a word from the



he drop of rain we’ve had so far has only served to green up grass and unfold curled maize leaves, and maybe given a window to desperately sow a little N in the hope, in part, of making up some lost ground. But however strong your beliefs in Nature’s restorative powers, the bald truth is we have lost seven precious weeks of prime growing time and that can never be made up. However warm the ground stays, the days are increasingly getting shorter and growth inevitably declines. Despite all this, milk production is only just starting to tail off, principally because producers have been feeding winter supplies which will inevitably catch up with them later at the turn of the year. Some will have been off-setting this loss of grass production with the purchase of extra silage, but those bills too will have to be reconciled somewhere along the line. Even NFU Dairy Board chairman Michael Oakes reports he has just spent £40,000 on buying additional feedstuffs, mostly standing wholecrop, off his neighbour, to make up his shortfall. And he says more will be needed before the year end. Most will have been driven to grazing second and probably third cut as well, and some have been forced into reducing stock numbers by

culling the also-rans, so they have less mouths to overwinter. But whatever the producer reaction, prices remain fairly steady as buyers see no immediate need to panic as supplies keep on coming but, sooner or later, forage stocks will have to be rationed. Ultimately, more concentrates will have to be fed for those tied to committed supply, and the figure being put on this extra cost of production is 3-4ppl. Which may be alright for COP producers, but for others the big question must be will processors even care about your cost of production if milk keeps rolling in?

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SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p1 Leader.indd 1


1 17/08/2018 14:23


CONTENTS September Volume 65 Issue 9

32-34 Global

Dutch farming Jersey herd milked out in the field



4-6 8-9 18-19 78-79

16 68-70 72-73 80

Latest News Cowmen Comment Potter’s View Good Evans

Politics Watch Milk Prices New Products Finance

72-73 New Products

Dairy marketplace A look at McCormick’s new three-tractor range and Kuhn’s stubble cultivators



***DF Sept p2 3 Contents.indd 2

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 11:38




Genomics Finalists

AHDB Dairy reveals its August genetic evaluations

74 Workshop tips

Fold-out troughs

British Farming Awards 2018 Find out who has made this year’s Dairy Innovator of the Year Award shortlist


Mike Donovan explains how to make our own home-made feed troughs

Natural ventilation control for livestock buildings • Optional weather station control • Fix to new or existing buildings • 10 year guarantee




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***DF Sept p2 3 Contents.indd 3

01531 637900



02/01/2018 10:05


17/08/2018 11:39

NEWS News in brief

Meadow gets new investor JTwo years after investment fund managers Paine Schwartz Partners bought into Meadow Foods, the firm has exited the company, selling its share to private equity firm Exponent. The investment “will facilitate Meadow Foods’ continued strategy to grow the business through both organic expansion and acquisitions,” it said. The Chantler family’s shareholding in the business continues under the tenure of chief executive Mark Chantler. Since Paine Schwartz’s investment, Meadow Foods has made strategic acquisitions in Roil Foods Limited and Fayrefield Liquids, as well as having made capital investments into its manufacturing capabilities. “With continued investment from Exponent, Meadow Foods aims to explore further opportunities for its producer partners, customers and employees,” said the firm.

RABDF conference

JRABDF’s second policy conference will take place in London on Wednesday, November 14. Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has been invited to give an opening address. Other speakers will include Waitrose, Dodd and Co’s Rob Hitch, Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Defra’s Simon Hall. rTickets and more info at, with an early bird discount until September 17. Plus further discounts for RABDF members and farmers.



***DF Sept p4 5 6 News.indd 2

No action despite promise at summit


ollowing the cross industry drought summit at the end of July, Secretary of State Michael Gove pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ in order to help farmers through the current difficulties. However, despite the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) insisting that ‘exceptional weather requires exceptional action’, at the time of going to press there had been no specific announcement by Defra to help alleviate declining forage stocks. The summit called for an immediate short-term flexibility around abstraction of water for growers, support for the logistics of transporting fodder and

straw around the country, and speeding-up of Basic Payment Scheme and Countryside Stewardship payments already owed to farmers. Challenging NFU president Minette Batters said at the time: “The impacts of the dry and hot weather have been hugely challenging for farms across the country, with many not seeing such weather in their lifetimes. Today’s summit was a wake-up call to Government and policymakers about the importance of British food production and the critical need to manage the volatility that comes with it.” George Dunn, of the TFA,

said: “Livestock and dairy farmers are in some of the most vulnerable positions with little by way of grass and fodder available for feeding now, and too little stored up for the winter months having eaten into previous stocks earlier in the year. “Everyone in the supply chain needs to work constructively to overcome these difficulties. Domestic retailers and food service operations must continue to do their bit by sourcing UK product where possible, and must not seek to profit unduly by raising consumer prices given the strong margins they are able to secure in normal circumstances.”

Full fat as good as semi-skimmed JAccording to a new study, full fat dairy products are as good for you as semi-skimmed ones. Researchers at the University of Texas’ School of Public Health, found that the death rate among a group of 2900 adults tracked over 22 years was the same for those with higher levels of dairy fats in their blood compared to those

with lower levels. The researchers concluded that eating fatty dairy products does not significantly influence mortality. Lead author Marcia Otto, the lead author and assistant professor at the university, said: “Overall, our findings do not support harmful associations of

dairy fat consumption with incidents of heart disease later in life.” Though the study tracked dairy fat in general and not specifically which dairy products were being eaten, the findings seemed to indicate that a diet with whole milk, butter, and rich cheeses was not necessarily worse than a diet of skim milk, margarine and low-fat cheese.

Irish farmers call for forage scheme JAccording to the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association, Irish dairy farmers are facing a €800 million (£717m) income hit in 2018 as a result of the drought. The figure is based on data supplied by dairy consultancy firm Teagasc, and the situation could get even worse depending on weather conditions between now and next April.

It wants the Government to prioritise action to mitigate the problems via the introduction of a fodder import scheme. Its president, Pat McCormack, said: “The fodder shortage is fast becoming an EU-wide problem, and if we do not move now fodder may not be available later in the year. “The Government needs to be pro-active on this and we

cannot depend on a ‘hope for the best’ policy. We need to start importing fodder now and the Government needs to support it. “We need to reduce the demand for fodder through significant live exports, and the Government must bring in the meat processors and agree a plan that will allow farmers to reduce stock numbers in a financially feasible way.”

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:48


Milk volumes staying up


espite the dry weather UK milk volumes are not materially different to last year, largely because farmers are feeding out first or second cut silage to maintain yields. UK volumes to July 28 averaged 39.4 million litres

per day, down -0.4% on last year and some 1.74% different to the long-term average. But there are significant indications that this will not continue, despite the easing of conditions in some milk fields like Cumbria. According to a recent client survey by Kite Consulting,

three-quarters of farmers are feeding more forage than they normally would at this time of year. Overall just 10% of farmers have no issues with winter silage stocks, with 40% ‘borderline worried’, but the other 50% saying that they are either ‘concerned’ or ‘desperate’ about their winter feed situation.

Maize, was also getting drought-stressed in many parts of the UK, but the rains came at the right time for some crops and they have recovered – but by no means to normal yield levels. Some 37% of the Kite farmers surveyed said their maize was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ compared to a normal year.

Dairy campaign tackles alternatives

Speakers Corner

JMillenials were ‘less likely’ to cut down their dairy intake following a campaign funded by AHDB Dairy and Dairy UK. The creation of a spoof organisation ‘The Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs’ targeted millennials and young parents using social media,

on-demand TV and billboards at major city sites. Only 8% of the target audience were less likely to cut down their dairy intake, with 11% less likely to turn to alternatives, prompting Dairy UK and AHDB to commit a further £1.2 million to the campaign for another year.

JJoin us for our Speakers Corner at the Dairy Show, when we have a distinguished speaker line up looking at how we can take out some of the highs and lows of price volatility. rDate: October 3 rTime: 11am rMore details: page 63

New name

Dairy cow prices tumble

JA new name enters the cattle

JValues of newly-calved dairy ani-

breeding world with Vytelle (pronounced Vy-tel-ee) being introduced for the former Cogent IVF name. Cogent IVF was founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of Cogent Breeding, and, although in 2017 the Wheatsheaf Group sold a majority interest in Cogent Breeding to ST Genetics, based in Texas, Vytelle remains within the Group.

mals have taken a tumble at auction marts, despite more than a dozen milk buyers announcing price increases for August or September. Two of the markets with the largest throughput of dairy animals last week were Sedgemoor and Gisburn, and both cited grass shortage for the reduction in price. However, there was a consensus milk is in demand and it is for this

The campaign notched up 19m interactions on social media and reached 14m people through advertising. Judith Bryans, Dairy UK chief executive, said it had shown understanding your target audience and tailoring messages accordingly was the best way to communicate the message successfully.

reason that sound, freshly-calved young cows have been at least matching the better fresh heifers. Gisburn auctioneer Fred Spurgeon said there was no evidence his vendors were selling under duress. He said: “Unfortunately, though, many of their potential customers are from areas further south, where the drought effects are worse and there are serious winter fodder concerns.”

Win tickets JWe have 10 pairs of tickets to be won in our grand draw for entry to the Dairy Show. First 10 out of the hat will receive free tickets for the show at the Bath and West Showground on Wednesday, October 3. rEnter online at

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5 17/08/2018 13:48


Meat-eaters to blame


new AHDB report, which looks at the factors driving the plant-based food trend, has concluded that sales are not being driven by vegans but by meat-eaters keen to try ‘something new’. There are, it says, currently more plant-based products than ever before, as supermarkets cash in on this latest food fad,

AHDB launches new index JWith autumn calving numbers increasing slightly year-on-year, a new Autumn Calving Index (£ACI) has been developed by AHDB Dairy to help producers breed cattle suited to autumn block systems. It will emphasise herd fertility and milk volume, and take into account the costs of feeding for winter milk production and the higher milk price per litre received. AHDB said: “Using either £ACI or the existing Profitable Lifetime Index [£PLI] or Spring Calving Index [£SCI], farmers can now make bespoke breeding decisions aligned with their calving pattern.”

Across-breed Like the £SCI, but differing from the £PLI, the index is an acrossbreed one, so it will be of particular benefit to autumn-calving producers who are using more than one breed.

Cow poo t-shirt JAccording to a story in The

Guardian, a Dutch start-up company is now making clothes out of cow manure by recycling the cellulose into fibre.



***DF Sept p4 5 6 News.indd 4

but AHDB is urging the industry to look at new and innovative ways to market meat and dairy products.

Tiny minority AHDB consumer insight analyst Susie Stannard said: “Only a tiny minority of the population are actually vegan, with meat and dairy remaining cornerstones of the British diet. But veganism receives a disproportionate amount of media attention and we wanted to explore what is driving this.” Figures from Kantar showed that 91% of British households purchased red meat. A total of 7% of the popu-

lation classified themselves as vegetarian, with 4% pescetarian (only eating fish and dairy) and just 2% vegan. Flexitarians, who cut down on meat consumption for health reasons, make up a further 7% of the population. Meanwhile, some 40% of Irish consumers do not trust dairy companies, according to research printed in the Irish press. Larry Ryan, director of a market research firm Behaviour and Attitudes, recently told a dairy conference in Dublin that about 10% of the population drinks almond and soya ‘milk’, with the number being 20% among millennials.

Veganism receives a disproportionate amount of media attention and we wanted to explore what is driving this Susie Stannard

Welsh farmers hit out over TB control

JWelsh farmers have hit back at the Welsh Government’s broken promise to eradicate bovine TB following a 10% jump in the number of new herd incidents. According to official Government figures announced last month, the number of herds under restriction also increased

16% year-on-year within the 12 months up to the end of April 2018, while the total number of animals slaughtered was up 3%.

Hot topic The issue was a hot topic at Pembrokeshire County Show. Some 3387 cattle were slaughtered in

the county during the 12-month period up to the end of April 2018, a 24% rise on the same period last year. A Welsh Government spokesperson said it was important to take caution on short-term trends to allow time for impacts to take effect before drawing conclusions.

Premium for black-and-white calves JSemex and beef supply chain specialist the Buitelaar Group have launched an initiative to promote the merits of breeding healthier calves. As part of this, Buitelaar will pay farmers a £10 premium over

the market rate for black-andwhite bull calves from Semex’s award-winning Immunity+ sire range. These sires have been ranked and selected on their health genes which they ultimately pass down to their offspring.

Semex will help Buitelaar locate suitable dairy bull calves, and will help communicate best practice calf rearing techniques back to farmers so that they make the most of their genetic investment.

Dale Farm launches giant solar farm in Ireland JDale Farm has launched ‘the largest self-consumption solar farm in Ireland’, which it claims marks a major milestone in sustainability. The project – a 37-acre solar

farm – guarantees 20 years of green energy for the company, and is one of the largest of its kind in the global dairy industry. It is based at Dale Farm’s

Cheddar cheese plant at Dunmanbridge, Cookstown, and will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by one-fifth while delivering savings in energy costs.

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:48


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16/08/2018 09:16




Andrew grew up on a Cheshire dairy farm before attending Harper Adams and going on to manage pedigree and commercial herds. He then secured a job with breeding company Genus, where he became sire analyst, but now he has undergone a complete turnaround and returned home to manage the 350-cow herd.

A “

As you might expect from my background, I do place a lot of emphasis on Fertility Index when selecting genetics to use



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t Genus I was responsible for the dairy bulls we acquired from the EU for Genus ABS, sourcing and buying-in bulls and watching them become renowned sires with their semen exported all over the world. I loved working for Genus, it’s a great company, but when the possibility arose to come home, I really couldn’t turn it down. So home I came to work in partnership with my mum, stepdad and sister Emma. We milk 350 cows each day, calving all-year-round on a level dairy, with pedigree Holsteins selling 9000kg per cow per year. We farm on very heavy clay, contract rearing our replacement heifers and buying-in maize while we concentrate on our milking herd and grazing at home. The Hughes family (my stepdad’s side) has been milking here in Haslington for over a century, and while there used to be lots of small dairies in the village, we are the last one still milking. So far, I’ve been back at the home farm just a couple of months, but am loving every minute. It’s been 18 years since I managed cows full-time, and while some things don’t change, I have learned an incredible amount from my stepdad Dennis in that short time. We are concentrating hard on controlling our costs, as we see this fluctuating milk price set to continue, and one way of achieving this is by getting our replacements into the herd as quickly as possible. Contract rearing certainly concentrates the mind as to the true cost of rearing replacements, and as our first task we are looking at bringing the calving age down from just over two years to 23 months. For this a good start is essential, and we test all colostrum, freezing only top grade stuff and getting at least three

litres into each new calf within two hours of birth. That’s not always an easy task, but the blood tests we are getting back are encouraging. The other thing we are homing in on is fertility. I was once told by a farmer that all his cows were ‘culls’ until he got that PD+ result, which is a hard way of looking at it, but not to be ignored. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does a little fist pump and thanks the vet with each PD+, but this is absolute key to us in keeping a level dairy and driving up milk sold most efficiently. As you might expect from my background, I do place a lot of emphasis on Fertility Index when selecting genetics to use. The data is absolutely irrefutable about the link between the index and days open. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Take your bottom 25% of cows at home for days open and average their sires’ Fertility Index, then do it with the top 25% and look at the difference. Reliable We work with Reproductive Management Services from Genus and found the back-up service, and ultimately results, of getting cows in-calf, very reliable. I have looked at the possibility of cross-breeding as a further step to promote fertility, but at this point it doesn’t make sense for our business model. I don’t want to sacrifice final yield and consistency in our herd. I’m happy we are concentrating on what makes our Holsteins easier to look after, and ultimately, more profitable. Size is one thing we look for. I love looking at big cows. In fact the only down side is they cost more to rear, are harder to get in-calf, are more difficult to calve, are more likely to get stuck in a cubicle or go down in the yard, and cost more in feed every day to keep them alive, which is particularly pertinent just now.

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:03


Above left: A bird’s eye view of Andrew’s family farm. Above right: Andrew with some of the 350 pedigree Holsteins.

Farm facts rFarm size: 121ha rHerd: 350 pedigree Holsteins rSoil: Heavy clay rRainfall: 820mm rMilk buyer: Muller non-aligned

We don’t normally suffer from any absence of rain in Cheshire, but like everybody else, as I write, our usually green and pleasant land is more akin to the Serengeti, and I keep expecting to see the Lion King and his mates trekking across our ‘pastures’. We are really pleased with the quality of our first and second cut, but yields are not mega, and third cut looks a long way away at this point. It’s only a few months since the ‘Beast from the East’, so this is some swing in weather bringing us all enormous challenges. I am very intrigued to know the pricing structures the various milk buyers follow, and with the press full of concerns about food security and the rapid hiking in feed costs, milk prices still seem low across the board. This is the time of year we want to be producing our cheapest milk, utilising grass, and yet this weather means we, like most farmers I speak to, just can’t manage it this summer.

The lesson I first learned in economics at Harper was supply and demand, and that seems a little disconnected to me across our end of the supply chain. That disconnect theme is also trending among other dairy farmers as I look at Twitter. A recent stay in hospital meant I learned how to tweet and read other people’s thoughts, and there seems to me a big lack of understanding in the wider public as to what farmers do or are trying to do. Efforts I’m passionate about our herd and about supplying food to people, as healthily, sustainably and hopefully as profitably as possible. I don’t expect to be thanked for this, but I would like our customers, the general public, to understand the effort and work that goes into putting food on their plates. Food is taken for granted in this country, which is fantastic, but you have to remember it does come at a ‘cost’.

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9 15/08/2018 14:03

ON FARM A leading organic vegetable grower has introduced livestock to lift the organic matter in his North Nottinghamshire soils, and has reduced investment by having the herd outdoors all winter. Jonathan Wheeler reports.

Cows play key role in organic vegetable unit


t first sight, the dairy cows grazing pastures on the Isle of Axholme in North Nottinghamshire look out of place, surrounded on all sides by arable crops and vegetables. But they play a vital role in the long-term farming strategy of owners Pollybell Farms, one of the biggest producers of organic vegetables in the UK. Pollybell operates on 2000 hectares around its base at Gringley on the Hill, North Lincolnshire, and is introducing livestock to the previously all-vegetable and arable rotation to raise organic matter levels. Strategy It is adopting a two-pronged strategy, starting its own flock of sheep, managed in-house, and a dairy enterprise, run by Misson Organic Dairying. The business is managed by Joel Rathbone, who works alongside experienced dairy manager Calvin Williams from South West Wales. With a 20-year Farm Business Tenancy on a 360ha block of grassland, they operate a New Zealand-style grazing system with spring-calving cattle at pasture all-year-round, so the only building needed is the milking parlour. This is located on Gibdyke Farm, Misson, where the milking parlour is set in the middle of a block of permanent pasture. Other pastures are run as either



***DF Sept p10 11 12 On farm.indd 2

Joel Rathbone (left) and Calvin Williams on the farm.

two or four-year leys within the arable rotation, with the first grass being sown in autumn 2016. All pastures are within walking distance of the parlour. The parlour itself is bolted to the concrete base rather than permanently fixed to it, so it could be moved to another site if required. The 45/90 herringbone parlour can milk the entire herd in three hours morning and evening, and the 19,000 litre bulk tank means collections daily during peak season and every other day at other times. It is built on a foundation using material extracted by digging the slurry lagoon alongside it, and it is served by a 960sq.metres

concrete pad. The collecting yard serves its primary function, but doubles as a feed and accommodation pad in winter, with feed barriers on the sides and space for ring feeders. Infrastructure Other infrastructure investment included laying 3500 concrete sleepers to make some 1200m of track. They have also installed 55 water troughs and 12km of supporting pipework, and a network of electric fencing to manage pastures. To assist cattle comfort and walking speed, they have also installed discarded artificial turf on top of the sleepers to cushion feet.

Joel says: “We get the turf when sports pitches are being renovated. It protects cows’ feet against rough concrete and stones, which means they walk more comfortably and quickly.” When cows reach the parlour, they benefit from another welfare feature – a water spray that both dispels flies and helps cool them down – and has been invaluable this summer. To match their minimal investment in fixed equipment they have a similar approach to machinery; a couple of quad bikes and a single 115hp Case tractor, which handles all major farm tasks and runs up about 2000 hours a year. Joel says: “The tractor is a very busy workhorse and does all the muck scraping, feeding and everyday farm tasks. We use contractors for all major operations, including spreading digestate, all silage work and reseeding.”

The penalty area is visible on the artificial turf cow track.

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 09:18


ON FARM Cows in the collecting yard which doubles as winter penning.

At the moment, they run about 580 cows, with an eventual aim of a 620-strong closed herd. Male calves are sold for rearing and finishing as beef, while heifers are currently kept as replacements, so the grassland

also supports 240 youngstock. Calvin says: “The herd was built by selected purchases. We had to find the right animals for this system. We need cows that can convert grass into milk efficiently, with good feet and

legs so they can walk to and from pastures. “We also want cows with good fertility so they get back in-calf consistently, and they need to be robust as they will be outside all-year-round.”

Initial purchases were made in Ireland, where this style of production is more widespread and suitable animals were more readily available. Calvin says: “We added some imports from the Netherlands and


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A water spray in the shed keeps cows cool and flies away.

Silage stored in the field clamp.

bought a 130-cow organic herd from a Devon farm.” All animals were subjected to detailed health checks before being moved, and vaccinated against BVD, IBR, leptospirosis, PI3 and salmonella. The Devon herd was TB tested before departure and again at Misson. As they approach capacity, they will cull more ruthlessly and adjust their breeding policy, using ‘milkier’ bulls to raise milk yields and cut solids to suit their Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative liquid milk contract. With forage supplies under pressure, they may face an expensive winter, says Joel. He says: “Forage is in short supply and prices for organic material are astronomical. There might be a lot stored in barns, but what might have cost us about £120/tonne last year could easily cost more than £200/t this winter.” However, as they are registered with British Organic Farmers and Growers, they can seek a derogation from Defra to feed conventional forage to youngstock. They are aiming for a yield of 5500 litres/cow, although this spring’s dry conditions and poor grass growth means they may only achieve about 5200 litres/head at the moment. Butterfat is about 4.2% and protein at 3.4%, but as they are on a liquid contract they aim to keep those low. While they plan to take three silage cuts a year, they have only managed one this season.



***DF Sept p10 11 12 On farm.indd 4

That cut, taken in late May, analysed at 14% crude protein, 10.5ME and D value of 66, and is stored in a field clamp. Joel says: “We aim for about 900t of silage but probably have a bit more than half of that at the moment, so we will have to use more bought-in hay and concentrates. That is going to be expensive.” Calvin lives in hope they may get some useful autumn grass growth if the soil retains the summer’s heat, and that some restorative rain arrives in time. In a normal summer, the cattle’s rations are based on grazing and 4kg of a 16% protein concentrate fed in parlour. In winter they add 6kg silage from a self-feed silage clamp in

the field. Balancing minerals and micro-nutrients are supplied via the drinking water system. Normally, cows receive 2kg of concentrate at each milking, but staff can raise this for groups of cattle which warrant it. The farm’s location presents challenges and opportunities. Joel says: “This spring, some fields were under several feet of floodwater because some are below the level of the River Idle, which runs through the farm. As a result, grass growth was delayed.” But being so low lying has its benefits, albeit only occasionally. This summer was one such occasion, as they were able to open the sluice gates and raise the water table to support more grass growth.

Pollybell’s principles JPollybell Farms is owned by James Brown, whose father bought the farms about 30 years ago. The company grows organic vegetables for major supermarkets as part of what was previously an all-arable rotation. The area on which the dairy is now based presented them with a problem, says John Taylor, farms director. He says: “Some of the fields below river level were unsuitable for vegetable

production. We had used rotational grass and green manures in the past, but felt it was best suited to a livestock enterprise. “We had run sheep in the past and are starting our own breeding flock, as well as buying-in stores with the aim of finishing 6000 or more lambs a year. “We want to protect our sensitive peat soils. The owner’s long-term aim is to hand the land to the next generation in a better state than when he bought it.”

With Pollybell’s vegetable irrigation system available to them across much of the grazing platform, this year Joel bought two irrigation reels for the dairy unit. (Pollybell uses around 18 reels for irrigating vegetables.) Joel says: “Ours each have 500m of pipe, so we can irrigate 120ha of the grassland and grow more grass than we would have done otherwise. If you look closely, you can see to an exact line where the irrigated area ends.” Pastures They aim to turn cattle into pastures when grass levels reach 2900kg DM/ha and take them out when it is down to 1600kg DM/ha, but have had to make a few compromises this year. They take over fields in autumn after Pollybell has harvested wheat and seeded them to a grass/clover mix. Joel says: “We aim to keep a 70% Italian ryegrass/30% strong growing clover mix. Fertiliser for the pastures comes from anaerobic digestate, which is applied after the first silage cut. “We need to follow a lot of rules, including ensuring the digestate contains no GM ingredients, no food waste and no animal by-products. “We also need to stay within a total nitrogen application limit. We assess what has been supplied by the animals’ manure, and top up to within the limit with the digestate.”

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 13:01


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Maize silage b


ut 1,000 tonnes of maize

“About 80 of those tonnes are

With grass silage stocks under severe pressure, Volac’s latest Cut to Clamp initiative for maize silage could not have come at a better time.

into your clamp and, typ-

typically lost due to inefficient bacterial

ically, you might only end

fermentation in the clamp, while another

a bad year such as this one. Plus, it

answer to achieve this. Instead,

up with 700t for feeding

200 are typically lost to yeasts and

is not only quantity at stake. There can

Cut to Clamp Maize guides farmers

livestock, says Volac

moulds causing aerobic spoilage,

be quality losses too.”

through five important loss-reducing

product manager Jackie Bradley. Many of those missing tonnes will

have effectively provided a meal for

commonly detected as heating. But losses can be much higher. “The serious point is that many

undesirable micro-organisms, she

farms would not want those typical

says, and all at your expense.

losses in a good forage year, let alone


While losses cannot be eliminated entirely, Mrs Bradley says they can be cut. This is what the new Cut to Clamp Maize initiative is all about. Mrs Bradley says: “There is no single

steps: planning, harvesting, treating, clamping and feeding. “Help is available via literature, a dedicated website, and free on-farm silage consultations.”

you want, but also to carbon dioxide

on the lactic acid when exposed

which wastes your silage’s energy.

to air, and further reducing tonnes of

fermentation in maize, it is therefore

“They also produce unwanted

“As well as ensuring a good

dry matter through production of carbon

vital to stop these yeasts by both

THE starting point to cutting losses

weaker acid at this stage, which

dioxide and heat. It can also lead

reducing their numbers early on

is to understand what causes them,

allows undesirable micro-organisms

to reduced silage palatability and

and keeping out the air they need.

says Mrs Bradley.

to feed on your silage for longer.

mycotoxin production, she notes.

She says: “Successful silage

“By comparison, good bacteria,

“Planning is about laying the foundations for this. Minimise contam-

production starts with the rapid

such as Lactobacillus plantarum

ination from last year’s mouldy silage

establishment of acidic conditions

MTD/1, ferment sugar only to stronger

by cleaning the clamp and surround-

in the clamp through fermentation.

lactic acid which rapidly inhibits the

ing area. Start to make the clamp

These acidic conditions, in turn,

undesirable micro-organisms. They

airtight by lining walls with polythene,

‘pickle’ the forage.

also don’t produce carbon dioxide,

a better barrier than concrete.”

“Fermentation happens natur-

so there is less loss of dry matter.”

ally, but the problem with a natural

That said, this is only part of the pic-

fermentation is that there are both

ture, says Mrs Bradley, because maize

good and bad bacteria present.

is also susceptible to aerobic spoilage

“Bad bacteria will ferment sugar in the crop into lactic acid, which

2. HARVESTING THE aims at harvest are to harvest the crop at the optimum dry matter,

Other planning tasks include informing your contractor of your anticipated harvest date, she says, rather than only calling on the day.

survive the initial fermentation, feeding

Lining the clamp walls with side sheets before filling the clamp is a key step to reducing air ingress.

kernels won’t be fully formed. Harvest

ges to solid yellow starch. You want

stalk has little nutritional value and

too dry, and it is more difficult to con-

one-third to one-half of the kernel as

mould spores often start here, plus it

solidate and remove air from the clamp,

yellow starch. Confirm dry matter results

increases the risks of soil contamina-

increasing the risk of heating.

using an oven or microwave test.

tion and mycotoxins, she explains.

(heating), in which undesirable yeasts

That way, you’ll have a better chance of harvesting the crop on time.

“To gauge the optimum dry matter,

“If growing ‘stay green’ varieties,

using the optimum cutting height

collect at least five representative cobs.

the cob may be ready even if the plant

Optimum chop length

and optimum chop length, says

Pressing your fingernail into exposed

does not look it. If you wait until the plant

“As with cutting date, chop length is

Mrs Bradley.

kernels should result in a soft cheese

looks mature, it may be past its best.”

about achieving the correct balance.

texture at top of the cob, but leave no

Short chop lengths will make consoli-

Optimum dry matter

indentation in kernels at the middle

Optimum cutting height

dation to remove air from the clamp

She says: “Aim to harvest at a

and bottom. Next, break cobs in half. A

Even if looking for extra bulk this har-

easier, but will impact on how silage

whole plant dry matter of 30-33%.

visible line will indicate where the milky

vest, don’t be tempted to cut plants too

performs in the rumen. Consider

Harvest too early and starch in the

white sugar portion in the kernels chan-

low, says Mrs Bradley. The base of the

chopping to 1.5-2cm,” she suggests.




***DF Sept p14 15 Volac (signed off).indd 2

15/08/2018 14:04



Making good maize silage could offer a lifeline for many farms this winter.


for each of these issues. In trial work, while the temperature of untreated

Jackie Bradley 4. CLAMPING

silage climbed to 8degC above

“As an illustration, two 14t tractors rolling continuously would not be enough to achieve this with a

THE reason we treat is to take

ambient just 55 hours after air expos-

DURING clamping, says Mrs Bradley,

control of the clamp’s microbial

ure, Ecocool-treated silage showed

you want the best fermentation and to

processes, Mrs Bradley says.

no heating for more than nine days.”

starve spoilage organisms of air.

start the sealing process with

She says: “Fill the clamp in

an oxygen barrier film on top,

“You control other stages, such

typical harvest rate of 120t/hour.” Once the clamp is filled,

as liming, analysing silage and balan-

horizontal layers no more than

cing the ration. But people don’t take

15cm deep, which is the maximum

“On top of that, use a single

control of the preservation.

that can be consolidated effectively

1000-gauge or two 500-gauge

“Decisions at ensiling can affect

suggests Mrs Bradley.

to squeeze air out. Many people

polythene sheets, then pull tight

the quantity and quality of the silage

still fill using a wedge, but this

and fold together with the side

you feed for 200 days of the year.

makes it difficult to maintain 15cm

sheets to create a seal.

“For maximum control, choose an

layers, with many clamps not

additive targeted at both improving fermentation and reducing heating. “Ecocool, for example, contains two strains of beneficial bacteria; one

5. FEEDING Remove old maize silage to minimise the risk of spoilage spores contaminating the new crop.

consolidated enough.

Use an additive to improve fermentation efficiency and keep maize cool.

“To prevent damage, put a woven sheet over the top, then

“Calculate the weight of machinery

weight with mats, gravel bags,

needed to pack to a density of

touching tyres or bales. Net to stop

750kg/cu.metre of fresh maize.

birds, and bait to stop rodents.”

THE feeding stage is about contin-

Mrs Bradley, and keeping it cool

from the face. Rain getting into

uing to protect silage quality, says

once exposed to air.

silage causes fluctuations in

She says: “Minimise air ingress

percentage dry matter, and

into the open clamp by using a block

cows like stable dry matters.

cutter or shear grab to keep the face tidy, and move the face back quickly. “Never leave the top sheet

“Any silage that falls off the face should be cleaned up to minimise mould spores.”

hanging over the face. It gets extremely hot under there on warmer days, encouraging mould. “Instead, roll the top sheet back, and do it so it diverts rain water on top of the clamp away

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

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p14 15 Volac (signed off).indd 3


15 15/08/2018 14:04



Odds on a ‘no-deal’ Brexit have never been shorter

It is likely Mrs May only triggered Article 50 when she did because politics necessitated it


he Prime Minister and her Cabinet might have spent a few short days after the Chequers agreement was reached congratulating themselves on finally setting out a future relationship with the European Union, but the celebrations proved to be a little premature. One thing the release of the Government’s White Paper, which was followed by the high-profile resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson, did do though was reveal Teresa May’s Brexit preference. And that preference was to maintain a very close relationship with the EU. What the document sets out is certainly a much ‘softer’ Brexit than she seemed to suggest was on the table with her Lancaster House and Florence speeches. For dairy farmers, the proposal of a ‘common rule book’ on matters affecting animal health may bind the UK’s hands when it comes to regulation around diseases such as bovine TB, but it could also allow agri-food products to move between the UK and EU without the need for border checks. What really matters though, is whether these plans will fly in Brussels, and I would suggest they absolutely won’t. Wider proposals The wider proposals from the UK effectively seek to split the single market for goods and services, something EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and the European Parliament repeatedly warned would not be acceptable. In fact, Mr Barnier has already torn the plans to pieces, in the most diplomatic way possible, of course. The EU is certain to demand further concessions, but Mrs May has already been told in no uncertain terms by Brexiteers who have backed the White Paper that this would not be acceptable back home. Polling has shown an overwhelming majority of Conservative Party members already want to kill off the plans, and the European Research Group, an 80-strong group of leave-backing Tory MPs, headed by Jacob



***DF Sept p16 Politics.indd 2

Rees-Mogg, would be sure not to allow any more ‘pinking’ of Mrs May’s old red lines. The political mood of Conservative voters and the Parliamentary arithmetic leave Mrs May with few options when the EU makes further demands. One possible route would be to extend the Article 50 deadline to make more time for talks; something the EU is said to be actively considering. But the UK Government has already ruled this possibility out, and any extension would mean the EU Withdrawal Act would need to be amended as it enshrines March 29, 2019, in law as Brexit day. Article 50 In any case, it is likely Mrs May only triggered Article 50 when she did, with such little preparation, because politics necessitated it. She needed to be seen to be delivering Brexit. Any extension of the Article 50 deadline seems improbable for the same reasons the White Paper plans cannot be watered down. Perhaps the last remaining avenue open to the Conservatives was blocked by Mrs May in September 2017 when she gave a landmark speech saying the options of joining the European Economic Area or negotiating a simple free trade agreement were off the table. Those off-the-shelf, quicker to implement options were rejected in favour of a bespoke relationship, but Mrs May is now finding her own proposals given a skewering in Brussels. All of these political stumbling blocks make it more likely than ever that Mrs May will be left with little choice but to walk away from the talks. The odds of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit have never been shorter!

About the author rAbi Kay is chief reporter for Dairy Farmer’s sister publication Farmers Guardian

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:09

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17/08/2018 10:02 13/08/2018 15:45:55 05/04/2016 12:13:47




This month, Ian Potter continues his look at the strength of the growing anti-dairy groupings, and argues that we need to be more on our guard and ready to counter this seemingly growing threat.

Is the Red Tractor logo genuinely a mark of quality food?



***DF Sept p18 19 Potter.indd 2


s last month’s article proved hugely popular, I make no apologies for returning to the hot topics of farm assurance and the escalating coverage anti-dairy and livestock farming groups are now achieving. Regrettably, July saw Red Tractor make the front page in The Times with the headline ‘Farm animals tortured under Red Tractor label’, with the paper’s environment editor stating that Britain’s biggest farm approval scheme is failing to detect breaches of its animal welfare standards because only one-in-1000 farms it certifies receives an unannounced inspection. The article then revealed ‘shocking undercover footage depicting frightened pigs given repeated shocks with an electric prodder’, which had been taken by animal rights activists. The farm in question had passed no less than five pre-announced inspections in the past year. Having said that, one Scottish farmer wrote to me stating that his recent Red Tractor inspection was the most rigorous and comprehensive to date. This suggests the inspection standards are very inconsistent – a fact confirmed to me when I recently met a former assessor. Our dairy industry has an excellent story to tell, but Red Tractor, together with a few dairy farmers, are playing with fire and most readers questioned just how some of their neighbours passed their Red Tractor dairy inspection. Understandably, the question being asked in many quarters is whether the Red Tractor logo is genuinely a mark of quality food that consumers can trust. In my opinion, if Red Tractor fails to

immediately lift its standards and inspections, I will support others in the industry who are now comparing it to a sick dog which needs putting out of its misery. Reader responses included criticism over Red Tractor failing to inspect the physicals and conducting a paper exercise instead, and gratitude for me in writing the truth and ‘for addressing a huge issue many choose to ignore’. Numerous readers didn’t hold back, demanding some farmers exit the industry for the benefit of others. One claimed the use of blue alkathene pipe on cows’ backs was commonplace on one particular dairy farm and that evidence is on video footage. I hope it is mischief-making because an identical incident filmed in New Zealand resulted in outraged farmers hounding the transgressing farmer publicly, and condemning him as ‘a leech at the bottom of our industry who must be kicked out’. We talk about humanely treating our animals, but perhaps it is time we found better ways to support those who won’t change on how to exit. It’s an industry problem which needs an industry solution. But I remember being in several meetings where this was discussed, and action by industry bodies was promised and then nothing. Recently the USA’s Animal Agriculture Alliance let me have sight of its confidential report from this year’s 15th annual Animal Rights National Conference, which gave me a bird’seye view of how animal rights extremists plan to attack us. It was a four-day conference involving 175 speakers representing more than 100 vegan organisations. The speaker statements made

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 11:15


‘We have an excellent story to tell’

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

were predictable and alarming, including ‘there is no such thing as humane slaughter’, ‘dairy is not environmentally-friendly’, ‘all farming is factory farming irrespective of size, and it’s cruel’. Plus ‘you wouldn’t eat your pet dog so why eat other animals’, and ‘happy animals on farms do not exist’. One speaker joked about killing some vivisectors to stop them killing animals, to which the audience cheered as delegates were constantly encouraged to take extreme direct action. In summary, these groups continue to increase their aggressive tactics in a bid to remove dairy and meat products from consumers’ tables. They are not interested in enhancing animal welfare as their goal is to liberate all farm animals. I have to say these anti-dairy organisations appear to be very professionally run, with talks on how to put your money into cruelty-free investing, and a benefit auction offering ‘lovely premiums for donations’. There was even a handout on how to become an activist. They are convinced they are the only honest people telling the truth, and that vegans are the happiest people in the world. ‘One day veganism will be the social norm not an alternative’, was the mantra. Drone footage was shown exposing what they call the dairy industry’s ‘dark secrets’, with exploitation of motherhood through cows ‘crying’ over their calves only hours after giving birth, plus others which included de-horning, ear-tagging, castration, branding and tail twisting, to name but a few. At the end of the film the room was blacked out while they held a minute’s silence for the animals.

They used fear images with footage so sensational the audience was in tears. They had headsets they put on people placing them in a slaughterhouse to witness what animal suffering looks like, and even cross-referenced it to several verses from the Bible. It’s all heavy emotional, pseudo-religious stuff. Current and planned campaigns include ‘Get milk out’ and ‘The despicable dairy industry’, plus PETA launching an antidairy month campaign with plans for a ‘De-calf your coffee’ campaign by choosing almond, soy or coconut ‘milk’. The groups have programmes to train chefs in schools, colleges and hospitals to regularly cook plant-based recipes, and use celebrities to gain more traction and to promote the logo ‘kind to animals is cool’, as well as programmes for talks at school assemblies. One speaker even stated that he tells children that diseases such as cancer and diabetes can be prevented by going vegan. If that’s not enough, they also educated delegates in a session on how to influence politicians. There was a session involving a UK speaker claiming vegan activism in the UK is mainstream and trending online, and they trumpeted a catalogue of successes including Costco selling about six million vegan burgers a year, Haagen-Dazs selling vegan ice cream, KFC testing meat free meals, and a vegan figure skater who won an Olympic medal. It all concluded in the closing remark “ladies and gentleman, what we have is a vegan revolution – the future is vegan”. Make no mistake livestock agriculture is under a lot of pressure. We don’t need bad practice from a few to heap more of it on us.

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p18 19 Potter.indd 3


19 16/08/2018 11:16

BREEDING A new wave of young Holstein sires and the first ever ranking on Autumn Calving Index (£ACI) were among the features of the AHDB Dairy August genetic evaluations.

New entrant takes top spot in genomic table


Pine-Tree CW Legacy dam Endco Yoder L7933 9839.


What has changed this proof run? JThis proof run sees some minor changes to £PLI and £SCI and the introduction of a new Autumn Calving Index (£ACI). Here are the basics.

£PLI rRemains the main ranking index for herds which are not calving in a tight block. Changes include the addition of the new lameness advantage (LA) and calf survival (CS). Body condition score (BCS) also goes in, to help ensure BCS does not decline now maintenance (based on the cost of maintaining the cow and therefore favouring small cows) is included. Production also changes in £PLI, with more emphasis placed on fat compared to protein, reflecting market



signals, and a less severe penalty for extreme milk bulls.

£SCI Specifically for grazing-based herds calving in a tight block in spring, £SCI has been adjusted to place a greater emphasis on female fertility and milk quality and against milk volume.

£ACI rNewly introduced and specifically for herds calving in autumn in a 12-week block, £ACI is similar to £PLI but with more emphasis on milk quality and female fertility. rThe differences between the three indexes are shown in the graph to the right.

here is a brand new number one bull going straight to the top of the August young genomic sire evaluations from AHDB, in the shape of Pine-Tree CW Legacy. Its massive profitable lifetime index (£PLI) of £924 is more than £100 ahead of the leading bull’s £PLI last April, reflecting its exceptional genetics on many fronts, and, to a degree, the ability of the newly formulated £PLI (see panel below) to capture more of the impact genetics can have on farm profitability. A son of Frazzled out of a

Mogul dam, Legacy is one of the best udder health improvers (-5 mastitis, -32 somatic cell count), transmits excellent daughter lifespan index (+0.7 lactations), good daughter fertility index (+8.5), and scores well for the two newly introduced evaluations for calf survival and lameness advantage (+2.4 and +2.3 respectively). Body depth It combines this with high production, and positive fat and protein percentages. Legacy’s type profile shows good functional traits, but teat length is shorter and body depth shallower than

Relative genetic gain for traits

Source: AHDB

Milk yield Fat (kg) Protein (kg) Fat (%) Protein (%) Somatic cell count* Mastitis* Lifespan Calf survival Fertility index Lameness adv Feet and legs Udder Maintenance* Body condition score Low High £SCI £ACI £PLI Gain based on the average of all available Holstein bulls: July 2018. *Trait reversed for presentation purposes


***DF Sept p20 22 24 25 BREEDING.indd 2

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BREEDING breed average. Its type merit is 1.72. In second place is Denovo 7921 Atrium, also newly available and a son of ABS Achiever, which is ranked just outside the top 10 with a £PLI of £804. Atrium transmits high fat (+0.20%) as well as strong health and outstanding daughter fertility (+12.6). As the best bull for reducing feed costs in the top 20 (-11 maintenance), it wraps up many desirable traits in a £PLI of £897. With a type merit (TM) of 1.8, it has a linear profile which is not unlike the number one bull, also reducing stature. ABS Outback (£PLI £866), the equal first-ranking bull from April, has now been edged into third place despite increasing its £PLI. It transmits excellent lameness improvement (+3.1). VH Balisto Brook remains in fourth position at £849 with ex-

cellent milk components (+0.25% fat, +0.11% protein). Bred in Denmark, where there has been a long-term emphasis on udder health, it is little surprise to see it rank as the best in the top 20 for both SCC (-37) and mastitis (-6). Fifth place goes to ABS Crimson (£PLI £848), one of the highest fat and protein transmitters in the top 20 (combined at 79.3kg), also with solid health.

The availability of new genetics continues at a fast pace Marco Winters

Speed Places six to nine feature all newly available sires, highlighting the speed which genomics is identifying new genetics. Sixth-ranked Pine-Tree Durable (£PLI £843) is a Charley brother to the number one bull. With a lameness advantage of +3.7, it is the best bull in the top 20 for this trait. With a TM of 2.14, it is one of the higher top 20 type improvers.

In seventh place, Sandy-Valley Imax Batman (£PLI £842) is a high fat transmitter (+46.6kg and +0.18%), followed closely by the highest protein transmitter in the top 20, De-Su 14222 Kenobi (£PLI £831). Both bulls have more than two points for type. UK-bred Glamour Boghill Victor makes its debut in ninth place with a £PLI of £827. This Verona son comes out of a Supershot dam from the well-

known Cosmopolitan family. Rounding off the top 10 is the former number one £PLI sire, Mr Rubi-Agronaut, who transmits high milk solids, excellent udder health and the best daughter fertility in the top 10 at +14. It combines this with the highest type merit in the group of 3.21. Places 10 to 20 feature no less than six additional debutants. Of note are the highest transmitters in the top 20: ABS Achiever, which is top for fat weight and per cent; Welcome-Tel Bromley 3195, top for daughter lifespan and fertility; and Schoene-Kuh Altarobert, also equal top for Fertility Index. Marco Winters, AHDB Dairy, says: “The availability of new genetics continues at a fast paceand the newly revised £PLI captures even more of the qualities these bulls can transmit than ever before.”

Top 10 Holstein bulls with genomic indexes ranked on profitable lifetime index (£PLI) August 2018 Rank £PLI Bull name

Milk Fat Ptn Fat Ptn SCC Mast LS FI TM Sire x maternal Supplier kg kg kg % % grandsire GB/NI

1 2

924 897

Pine-Tree CW Legacy Denovo 7921 Atrium

953 724

44.7 32.6 0.08 0.02 -32 45.9 27.7 0.20 0.05 -23

-5 -4

0.7 8.5 1.72 Frazzled x Yoder 0.6 12.6 1.80 Achiever x Delta


3 4

866 849

ABS Outback VH Balisto Brook

807 501

37.0 30.2 0.06 0.05 -19 41.0 25.6 0.25 0.11 -37

-2 -6

0.7 12.6 1.98 Spectre x Mogul 0.7 8.5 1.30 Balisto x Denim


5 6

848 843

ABS Crimson Pine-Tree Durable

920 953

48.1 31.2 0.13 0.02 -20 34.5 33.9 -0.03 0.03 -15

-2 -2

0.6 10.1 1.65 Spectre x Rubicon 0.6 9.7 2.14 Charley x Yoder


7 8

842 831

Sandy-Valley Imax Batman 792 46.6 35.0 0.18 0.11 -14 De-Su 14222 Kenobi 1018 38.1 37.1 -0.02 0.05 -17

-1 -1

0.5 9.4 0.5 9.0


9 10

827 815

Glamour Boghill Victor 890 Mr Rubi-Agronaut 73287 410

-4 -4

0.6 10.1 1.54 Verona x Supershot 0.6 14.0 3.21 Rubicon x Shotglass

30.9 32.3 -0.05 0.04 -29 34.8 20.8 0.23 0.09 -31

2.11 Imax x Jedi 2.18 Jedi x Altaspring


AIS = AI Services; BUL =; CBL = Cogent Breeding; GEN = Genus ABS; SMX = Semex; UKS = UK Sire Services; WWS = World Wide Sires. £PLI = Profitable lifetime index; SCC = Somatic cell count index; Mast = Mastitis; LS = Lifespan index; FI = Fertility index; TM = Type merit.

Proven sires stable despite index change JAs young genomic Holstein sires increasingly steal the limelight in the genetic evaluations, the proven sires continue to remind us that once daughter performance contributes to the figures, bull proofs remain remarkably stable. In the August run, the four front runners remain little changed, with Mocon retaining its



lead. However, with a profitable lifetime index (£PLI) of £738, almost £200 less than the leading genomic sire, it is easy to see why more than 70% of semen sold in the UK is now from young sires. Efficient Transmitting excellent feed savings for maintenance (-20), while being a high milk volume bull

(predicted transmitting ability 857kg milk), demonstrates how smaller cows can make efficient milk producers. Its daughters are also long living (+0.7 lifespan). In second position is S-S-I Shamrock Mystic (£PLI £719), whose exceptional daughter fertility index (+19.4) will appeal to many producers, although semen supplies for this now de-

ceased bull are very limited. In contrast, there is plenty of availability for Larcrest Commend, who has exactly the same £PLI at £719. Commend has the best milk solids package of the top 10, at +0.29% fat and +0.19% protein, as well as good health and fertility across the board. Climbing into the top 10 are fourth-placed Cookiecutter


***DF Sept p20 22 24 25 BREEDING.indd 4

17/08/2018 11:41

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BREEDING Harper (£PLI £708), another bull transmitting high weights of fat and protein, and Weigeline Jacey Tabasco (£PLI £704), one of the highest milk yield bulls in the top 20 (+1039kg). New in the proven bull listings is S-S-I Headway Alltime (£PLI £701), which transmits excellent resistance to mastitis (-4). The final four places in the top 10 are all occupied by previous top 10 sires – View-Home Littlerock (£PLI £699), De-Su 11236 Balisto (£PLI £679), which has the best TB Advantage of the top PLI sires (+3.3), Co-op Robust Cabriolet (also £679), the best fat transmitter in the top 10 at 39.6kg, and GenI-Beq Lavaman (£PLI £675), which rates the best for lameness advantage (+5.3).

Top 10 daughter-proven Holstein bulls ranked on profitable lifetime index (£PLI) Rank £PLI Bull name 1 738 Mocon 2 719 S-S-I Shamrock Mystic 2 719 Larcrest Commend 4 708 Cookiecutter Harper 5 704 Weigeline Jacey Tabasco 6 701 S-S-I Headway Alltime 6 699 View-Home Littlerock 8 679 De-Su 11236 Balisto 8 679 Co-Op Robust Cabriolet 10 675 Gen-I-Beq Lavaman For key, see Genomic sires table on p22. Marco Winters, head of animal genetics with AHDB Dairy says: “As with all genetic ranking indexes, the £PLI is regularly reviewed to make sure it keeps pace with industry changes and

Mocca, a daughter of top daughter-proven Holstein Mocon.

Milk kg 857 630 201 499 1039 632 668 584 659 332

Fat kg 26.1 25.0 31.5 33.0 25.3 27.4 24.9 31.8 39.6 19.0

cattle genetic developments. “This month, the new calf survival and lameness advantage have been added to its formula, as well as body condition score. Production “Minor changes to the production component of the index have also been built in and while the index continues to reward bulls which transmit high weights of fat and protein, those transmitting a higher weight of milk will be less severely penalised than in the previous £PLI formula.” As a result of this change, bulls such as Weigeline Jacey Tabasco and Seagull-Bay Supersire have now moved into the top 20 proven sire list for the first time.

Friesian front-runner for £SCI JFor the spring calving index, which has undergone a subtle reformulation this month, there is a British Friesian front-runner for the first time since the index’s launch. The number one £SCI bull is Catlane Caleb, whose outstanding daughter fertility helps earn it the leading position. However, although there is a continued domination of the £SCI list by the Jersey breed, a few more black-and-whites have entered the running, including



some from New Zealand which have previously been conspicuous by their absence. Marco Winters, head of animal genetics with AHDB Dairy says: “NZ bulls have benefited a little more from the new £SCI formula than those from some other countries, although we have also had a change in our eligibility criteria. In the past, many of these bulls have not met those criteria on the basis of their reliability, but we have now decided if a bull has a

progeny proof published in any participating country, it will be published on our lists too, irrespective of reliability.” Urging UK producers to use the UK’s own £SCI rather than any international indexes, he says: “These UK indexes have been specifically tailored for UK market conditions, including feed, forage and milk prices, and therefore should be the primary screening index to maximise profits when selecting potential service sires.”

Ptn kg 28.8 20.9 21.5 27.5 33.7 25.6 25.0 32.9 24.0 24.4

Fat Ptn SCC M % % -0.09 0.01 -22 0.00 0.01 -22 0.29 0.19 -18 0.16 0.14 -21 -0.18 0.00 -22 0.03 0.06 -29 -0.02 0.04 -19 0.10 0.17 -23 0.16 0.03 -8 0 0.07 0.17 -5 0

New index for


JThe new autumn calving index (£ACI) has now been added to that for spring block-calvers, creating another tool to help producers fine tune their breeding decisions. Only subtly different from profitable lifetime index (£PLI) and spring calving index (£SCI) (see panel below), it is no surprise some bulls do well in all three rankings. Availability S-S-I Shamrock Mystic is a case in point, leading the way with an £ACI of £649 but is disappointingly of only limited availability. Many of the other bulls are familiar proven sires which feature high on the £PLI list, including Larcrest Comment, Teemar Shamrock Alphabet, Mocon and Gen-I-Beq Lavaman. Top 10 autumn calving index


Rank £ACI Breed B 1 649 HOL S 2 630 HOL L 3 611 HOL T 4 607 HOL M 5 597 HOL G 6 595 HOL S 7 589 HOL R 8 588 HOL V 9 572 HOL V 9 572 HOL C


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BREEDING August 2018

CC Mast LS FI TM Sire 2 -3 0.7 7.6 0.87 Morgan 2 -3 0.7 19.4 0.92 Shamrock 8 -3 0.4 10.4 1.07 Balisto 1 -3 0.4 5.6 0.96 Balisto 2 -3 0.3 13.4 1.21 Jacey 9 -4 0.5 8.9 1.89 Headway 9 -2 0.4 12.3 0.75 Cashcoin 3 -3 0.5 -0.4 1.21 Bookem 0 0.3 1.9 1.80 Robust 0 0.3 16.1 0.66 ManOman




autumn block- calvers

Ala-Moo Mystic, a daughter of S-S-I Shamrock Mystic.

Like £SCI, the £ACI index is across breeds, so it will help producers with their sire selection, whether they are pure or cross-breeding. However, as

with the £SCI, the predicted transmitted abilities (PTAs) which make up the figure are not comparable with those used to calculate £PLI.

(£ACI) August 2018

Bull name S-S-I Shamrock Mystic Larcrest Commend Teemar Shamrock Alphabet Mocon Gen-I-Beq Lavaman S-S-I Mogul Multiply Rickland Pickford 765 View-home Littlerock VH Cole Clark Cookiecutter Harper


SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p20 22 24 25 BREEDING.indd 7


25 17/08/2018 12:09

VET’S VIEW Trace elements are essential to cow health, but there are inherent dangers in both under or over-providing them. Vet Tom Downes, from Lambert, Leonard and May, gives us a few pointers.

Keep an eye on your trace element levels


t has been a testing summer for most people. Over the last couple of months, cows have been fed anything and everything while grass has been in short supply. The main concern has been feeding cows as economically as possible while trying to preserve winter forage. Consequently, mineral status and trace elements have been far from top of the agenda. Autumn block calving herds will shortly have calving underway, so now is a good time to consider your herd’s mineral status. Ironically, this year some cows may be in a better position than they would have been had lush pasture been readily available all summer. Trace elements are dietary substances that are required by ruminants in very small amounts. Selenium, cobalt, iodine and copper are considered the most important

trace elements that affect cattle health and performance. Many of these trace elements are heavily involved in metabolic processes and pack a big punch, despite only low levels being required. Cows have the highest demand for trace elements in late pregnancy and early lactation, which is therefore the time when deficiencies often manifest themselves. This can result in significant problems. So let’s take a look at what each does. Iodine is required for thyroid hormones and is involved in several metabolic processes. Iodine deficiency causes enlarged thyroid glands (goitre), due to compensatory mechanisms invoked by a lack of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency often results in stillbirths or weak calves with poor suck reflexes and high neonatal mortality. Cobalt is a crucial trace element, as it is required by cattle principally

Tom Downes



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One of the most effective ways to manage trace element intakes in cattle is to feed a fully mineralised diet Tom Downes for the production of vitamin B12 and energy metabolism. Classically, cobalt deficiency is associated with ill thrift in growing cattle or sheep. Cobalt deficiency in dairy cows can impact on fertility and productivity. Copper forms an essential part of many enzymes used in the body. Copper deficiency causes reduced fertility in adult cattle, as well as poor growth and ill thrift in youngstock. Copper is often the first trace element people consider, particularly in relation to poor fertility. Deficiencies can occur due to a primary lack of dietary copper, but more commonly copper is ‘tied up’ or prevented from being available to the cow by high levels of antagonists, such as molybdenum, sulphur and iron. Cows that are at pasture and not receiving any supplement are most at risk of copper deficiency, while most high producing dairy cows will be copper supplemented, making deficiencies uncommon. However, excess copper is toxic and high levels of copper approaching toxicity is not an uncommon finding on some

dairy farms, due to over-supplementation. It is always advisable to check copper levels prior to increasing supplementation. Selenium acts with vitamin E and is important for immune function among other things. It is also required by the thyroid gland for the uptake and utilisation of iodine. For this reason, iodine and selenium deficiencies are often associated. Selenium deficiency can result in a whole host of issues, chiefly reduced immune function causing increased disease susceptibility, poor reproduction and reduced calf viability. Specifically, there is an association between increased prevalence of retained foetal membranes and selenium deficiency. It is important to remember that, as with copper, selenium can be toxic in high amounts, so supplementation must be carefully considered and, ideally, in the light of test results. One of the most effective ways to manage trace element intakes in cattle is to feed a fully mineralised diet all of the time, as with total mixed rations. Challenging Often, this is not practical or feasible on pasture-based, block calving systems. Consequently, managing mineral requirements at pasture can be challenging. Traditionally, many people have relied on mineral licks or water supplementation. However, while they are undoubtedly beneficial, uptake has been shown to be variable, which can leave some cows falling through the gaps. Alternatively, a good option is the use of slow-release ruminal

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:09


A good option is the use of slow-release ruminal boluses.

boluses, which have the advantage of providing consistent long-term supplementation and remove the risk of variable uptake. There are many boluses available on the market, but remember not all boluses are the same. You should always look critically at exactly what each bolus is going to deliver to your cows. This is best done by calculating a daily dose for each trace element,

ideally in milligrams. It is also important to consider the duration of activity, particularly when comparing costs. There are many dry cow boluses available that last several months and will help carry cows through the critical period from calving up to serving. For trace element supplementation, it is important to do this in consultation with your vet

and nutritionist, as over-supplementation is costly and can have detrimental effects. The use of diagnostic sampling to characterise trace element levels within your own herd allows you to make informed decisions about supplementation. For many trace elements, this can be easily done by blood sampling a small selection of cows from each management group. For copper and cobalt, due to

both being stored in the liver, it is advisable to use liver biopsy samples, as blood samples alone are often misleading. Liver biopsies can be easily and cheaply obtained from live cows with minimal risk of complications. It should also be possible to obtain liver samples from cull cows at slaughter, which can be used to help monitor herd mineral status. Considering the availability and variability of feed over the last two months, many cows may be at risk of trace element deficiencies, but this will be very dependent on what has been fed. Change of diet In particular, cows are going to face an abrupt change of diet once we get some rainfall, and this may compound any issues. Crucially, you will not know at what levels you are operating without testing, and relying on the idea that ‘it was okay last year’ may leave you exposed to risk.

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p26 27 Vet's view.indd 3


27 15/08/2018 14:12

A record-breaking celebration of farming


he farming community is renowned for its ability to rally together and show what it is really made of. And true to form, on Thursday, August 9, farmers united to take part in this year’s 24 Hours in Farming; a Farmers Guardian campaign aiming to highlight the work of the agricultural sector by posting across social media platforms throughout the entire day, using the hashtag #Farm24. Now in its fourth year, the event encourages people to join in in championing the nation’s food and produce, while taking a closer look at those who are at the core of the process. From 5am to 5am, dedicated FG

staff manned the hot desk in-between participating in farm-themed fancy dress, fun and games. From the heart of the FG office, we witnessed what was a record-breaking and inspiring 24 Hours in Farming, with more than 5,000 contributors and support from politicians, TV personalities and chefs alike. Never before have farmers consolidated in such a way to inform, educate and speak from the heart about their lifestyle. From large businesses to small family farms,

it was a day dedicated to letting people in agriculture have their say. On Twitter, the hashtag #Farm24 trended in the top four all day and received more than 114 million impressions; a staggering 12m more impressions than 2017.


Throughout the course of the day, we were inundated with tweets, pictures and videos from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, that can only be described as a fantastic celebration

This year’s statistics jImpressions: More than 114 million jReach: 19.3m

jContributors: 5,396 jMentions: 13,645

of one of the greatest and most historic professions on earth: farming. The campaign gained unbelievable traction, quickly attracting high-profile interest from outside of farming. Prime Minister Theresa May stepped forward to say thank you to those in agriculture, tweeting: “This government is committed to supporting the half a million people who work in agriculture across the UK – and I am proud to endorse this wonderful initiative by @FarmersGuardian to promote the great work of our farmers.” There was a raft of appreciation coming from Government members, including Farming Minister George Eustice, Shadow Defra Secretary Sue

Search for #Farm24 on social media 28



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16/08/2018 13:59

A word from the sponsor THANK you to everyone who took part in the biggest ever 24 Hours in Farming. Morrisons is very proud to continue supporting the initiative, which showcases the work done across the nation by UK farmers to feed our communities and families. The day was a great success on social media and in our stores and helped communicate the

Hayman and Secretary of State Michael Gove. Legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, and well-known farmer’s daughter and BBC radio DJ Sara Cox also took to Twitter to thank the UK’s farmers, giving the campaign more momentum than ever, allowing us to reach out to those vital wider audiences. With a huge focus on food and the journey from farm to plate, this year’s #Farm24 provided consumers across the country with an opportunity to gain an insight into food production. And to promote the message further, some of the biggest names in food got behind the campaign to highlight how farming affects each and every one of us, with popular

baker Candice Brown, previous winner of The Great British Bake Off, tweeting: “Today I’m saying thanks to every single British farmer for the delicious food and drink they produce as part of #Farm24.”


The initiative, sponsored by Morrisons, was no doubt our most successful yet, proving that, as a force, farming can use its combined voice to help bridge the gap between the public and what they are eating. FG editor Ben Briggs said: “August 9 proved to be another wonderful celebration of the best of British agriculture and the #Farm24 hashtag dominated social media streams throughout the entire day.

“To achieve more than 114m social media impressions on the 24 Hours in Farming day itself, 12m more than last year, was an incredible feat and shows the huge popularity of the #Farm24 initiative. “There is no-one better to tell British farming’s story to the wider world than farmers themselves, and they once again stepped up to the plate with huge creativity and enthusiasm.” The hype and passion surrounding the day was incredibly catching and, although the event outshone all those

importance of British farming to Morrisons customers. We look forward to growing the profile of British farming and we hope you will all join us in 2019 to make #Farm24 even bigger. Andrew Thornber, Morrisons Market Street and manufacturing trading director.

previous, it is important to remember that as we celebrate just one day, the industry continues to work tirelessly around the clock throughout the year. Hopefully this event will shine some positive light on the relentless commitment and dedication our farmers have to producing the nation’s food, and those who supported them during 24 Hours in Farming might just continue to be advocates of the industry outside of the event too. SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p28 29 24Hrs (signed off).indd 3


29 16/08/2018 13:59


Meet your Dairy Innovator of the Year Award finalists

Meet the Dairy Innovator finalists who are making their mark in their farm businesses and beyond. RICHARD BOSTOCK, JAMES DOHERTY AND TOM LOMAS Perfection Collection, Shropshire

WILL BARBER Halcyon Genetics, Lancashire

WITH a keen interest in numbers, Will and his family are operating a micro-herd, specialising in advanced Holstein progeny and genetics. In 2015, the family partnered with Cogent Breeding to begin reproduction. Through this coalition, the family has developed strong relationships with a number of other AI companies which are interested in their third season of progeny, which are all estimated to break the £PLI 700 barrier in May of next year. After three years of operation, Will and his family are continually forecasting whether specific matings and sire selection will produce the best possible progeny by running genomic figures through heritability calculators and onto the PLI formula, which enables more reliable figures.

An IVF programme began in August this year and, by harvesting oocytes earlier than traditional embryo transfer, Will is able to shorten the gap between generations to just 15/17 months, compared to 23/26. The family aims to be at the forefront of British genetics and create bulls and females which will become trait leaders.

JAMES, 26, Richard, 28, and Tom, 27, all share a passion and appreciation for pedigree cattle. Having worked with, shown and judged, every major breed in the UK, they have travelled the world as members of Holstein Young Breeders and were inspired to create an exciting and dynamic platform to showcase world-class dairy genetics to the global market. The trio secured 90 lots of world-class genetics from countries including Germany and the USA. The first Perfection Collection Sale saw more than 800 pedigree breeders at Shrewsbury Auction Centre. Cows were shown against lights, music and fog machines, creating a unique experience. The team assembled some of the best cattle technicians who clipped, prepared and washed the

Left to right: James Doherty, Richard Bostock and Tom Lomas animals. Their budget was based on an estimation of 2800gns/lot and clearance of 80% on 100 lots, but averaged 4600gns with a 90% clearance of 91 lots. Top price was 21,500gns for Tynealley Rubi a Bambi, the highest price at public auction for a dairy cow in the UK for three years, and the highest this year in Europe. A second sale is being planned.

JONNY AND DULCIE CRICKMORE Fen Farm Dairy, Suffolk A SWITCH to Montbeliarde cows has prompted the supply of raw milk sales from Fen Farm and the creation of award-winning cheese and butter. Baron Bigod claims to be the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK and is being supplied across the UK, Europe and Asia, and through online sales. Fourth-generation farmers Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore, who farm alongside their family, introduced

a raw milk vending machine in 2011 to add value to the core product. The cows were initially bought-in from the French Alps in 2012 and, today, half the 300-head are pure-bred, with the aim to be 100% in the future. Producing high quality milk from home-grown forage, cows average 8000 litres at 3.5% protein and almost 4% butterfat, and are carriers of kappa-casein BB and the A2 gene. A number of key investments include a new cow shed, calf

W h

Th su

In housing, maize clamp, a feed shed and parlour extension. A new cheese factory is currently being built to facilitate

increased production, as the business joins a retail box scheme after recognising potential in the food delivery market.


For more information, visit



***DF Sept p30 31 BFAs.indd 2



SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:05


AMBITIOUS team Karen and Tom Halton have high hopes for their dairy and are determined to be in the top 1% of profitable dairy farms in the country. To that end, they are working hard to achieve and maintain excellent cow health, welfare standards and fertility. They milk their 530 three-waycross cows across 226 hectares three times-a-day to deliver an average annual yield of more than 10,000 litres/cow. A further 300 heifers, residing at their second unit, are waiting to enter the herd. The Halton’s supply County Milk, split between three contracts, and have a successful on-site vending


machine where they sell raw milk, cheese produced with their own milk, and eggs from their own flock of rescued battery hens. With a keen interest in benchmarking best practice, they are involved with AHDB’s Strategic Dairy Farm initiative to help understand the farm’s overall performance indicators. The couple also run five social media groups on cow management and knowledge is transferred around the team. Investing in what works and not afraid to challenge and change what does not, staff welfare and training is taken seriously, as they feel this contributes hugely to a successful business.

Jonjo Roberts (left) and Matt Venables. MATT was farming three dairy units with his family when he first met Jonjo, who was working as a chartered surveyor in Cheshire. Jonjo wanted to return to his agricultural roots and become a milk producer and realised they shared a mutual determination to establish two dairy farm businesses. Jonjo had the backing of the family’s 593-acre half-owned half-rented Mynachdy Farm, near Cemaes Bay, while Matt had a lot of dairy experience. Their business works as a 50:50 joint investment, having secured backing and negotiated a milk contract with Arla. With no dairy facilities at Mynachdy, the grazing area was reseeded, a network of tracks laid

and a 46:92 herringbone parlour and collecting yard added. Soon after, 640 NZ Friesian cross Jersey heifers arrived, 50% sourced from Ireland and the rest from Matt’s herds. Operating a NZ-style springcalving system, they have taken on a second venture when a tenanted farm became available. The 617acre unit mirrored the same journey of Mynachdy, except their own calves and home-bred heifers are used to increase numbers. Thanks to a milder climate, a 70-point Waikato unit without a roof was installed, which reduced total investment to about £450,000. Average yield stands at 5000 litres/head, with butterfat at 4.6% and protein at 3.9%.

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17/08/2018 13:05

DUTCH FARMING Dutch organic producer Bartele Holtrop tries to keep his system as simple as possible – and has his milking parlour out in the field with the cows. Chris McCullough reports. The Jersey cows line up in the mobile milking unit.

Jersey herd milked out in grazing fields


ilking cows in a field twice-aday may seem unconventional, but that is exactly what Dutch young farmer Bartele Holtrop does in his mobile milking unit. Bart likes to graze his 100 Jersey cows as long as possible during the year at his Boer Bart organic farm near Rotstergaast, south of Leeuwarden, in the Netherlands. Instead of wasting time bringing cows into a fixed parlour twice-a-day, Bart keeps the milking unit in the field with the cows. The herd produces an average yield of 4400kg per cow per year at 5.2% butterfat and 4.1% protein, which all goes to the local cheese factory to be made into Bart’s own brand of cheese. Bart insists his cows are healthier kept outdoors and are milked in just over an hour each time in the mobile unit, which can milk 15 cows at a time. Bart, 31, and his wife Rianne,



***DF Sept p32 34 Dutch.indd 2

I have about 40 species of grass, flower and clover in my grazing fields which the cows turn into superb organic milk Bartele Holtrop 31, started their organic farm back in 2014 and it extends to 40 hectares for grass production and a further 19 hectares of natural wetlands. He grazes cows on a fresh paddock for a maximum of 12 hours at a stocking rate of 2.7 cows per hectare during spring and 1.5 cows per hectare during summer on 29day rotations.

Bart says: “When we started the dairy herd I knew the system I wanted to follow, grazing cows for as long as possible and milking them at pasture. “I had actually drawn up plans to build my own mobile milking unit, but then we found this machine for sale from another farmer so we purchased that instead.

“I feed as little as possible of a sunflower mix to cows in the parlour, usually about 0.5kg per day during spring and 2-4kg during summer and winter periods.” Bart milks his cows outdoors, usually from about February to October, then takes the mobile milking unit indoors where he sets it up for the winter. While out in the fields, cows are milked by Bart or his Syrian employee Omran Ayoub. Milk is collected during each milking into a tractor-drawn mobile tanker, then picked up every three days by the processor. “Either Omran or I milk the cows at 4am, then again at 5pm. “With one of us in the parlour each milking, it takes one hour to milk 100 cows plus another hour to wash up and move the unit to fresh ground. “Cows are simply collected behind the parlour using a temporary coral made from an electric fence, and the mobile unit only uses about 10 litres of diesel each milking, so it

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DUTCH FARMING The Jersey herd in the electric fence collecting yard waiting to go in for milking.

really is an efficient system,” adds Bart. He also tries to keep three calves on one stepmother for about three months after calving. “The system works well in the early stages as I want them calving at grass and staying in the fields to weaning stage, but the calves are pretty nervous when we do wean them. “I have about 40 different species of grass, flower and clover in my grazing fields which the cows turn into superb organic milk. “I want to graze the cows for as long as possible to save on winter feeding costs. “However, I do need to buy in some feed for winter. Right now at pasture I am forced to feed some winter silage to cows as there is little grass coverage due to the drought. I am also feeding lucerne and sunflower seeds as an extra buffer too. “Like many other Dutch farmers, I also sold some cows



***DF Sept p32 34 Dutch.indd 4

to reduce my overall feed requirements.” Bart’s farm turns over about €100,000 (£90,000) per year boosted by the €380 (£342) per ha he receives from the EU as a subsidy. Bart says: “It’s possible to make a living from 40ha and still enjoy quality family time with my wife and children. After paying off the tax man and bank loans we should have enough to live on.”

Milk is transferred into the mobile collection tank (above) and (below) the cows walk carefully down the exit ramp.

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:12

TREATING WITH METACAM CONTINUES TO DELIVER Adding Metacam to standard antibiotic therapy for mastitis is associated with a greater first-service conception rate and a higher probability of pregnancy by 120 days post-calving compared with cows receiving antibiotic therapy alone1. That’s not all you can expect... Metacam can be used in cases of acute mastitis*, acute respiratory infections*, diarrhoea in young calves and non-lactating cattle,^ and pain relief following dehorning/disbudding in calves. Expectations of Metacam treatment are changing. Are yours?

Ask your vet about treating with Metacam

* With appropriate antibiotic therapy. ^ In calves over one week of age and in combination with oral rehydration therapy. Reference 1. McDougall et al (2016) Addition of meloxicam to the treatment of clinical mastitis improves subsequent reproductive performance. J Dairy Sci 99(3): 2026-2042. Metacam 20 mg/ml solution for injection for cattle, pigs and horses and Metacam 40 mg/ml solution for injection for cattle, and horses contain meloxicam. UK: POM-V IE: POM. Further information available in the SPC or from Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd, Animal Health, RG12 8YS, UK. UK Tel: 01344 746960 (sales) or 01344 746957 (technical). Email: Metacam is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, Ingelheim, Germany. Š2018 Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: Aug 2018. AHD11300. Use Medicines Responsibly.

DF_09_P35.indd 1 Metacam Cattle_farmer A4 Aug 2018 V2.indd 1

17/08/2018 15:11 09:25 13/08/2018

USA In early June, Somerset dairy vet Sally Wilson accompanied a small group of UK dairy farmers to Wisconsin to see three top dairies there. Here she gives us her personal take on what she discovered.

Top US dairy tries out milking four times-a-day


amous US vet and dairy owner Gordie Jones was the first to show us around his purpose-built Central Sands Dairy. Jordan Matthews, manager of the family farm, Rosy Lane Holsteins in Watertown, was next to show us their excellent dairy. Our final visit was to the inspiring Wagner Farms, where owner Hank Wagner spent a lot of time discussing all aspects of his immaculately run dairy. All farms championed calf health, cow health and the enthusiastic, well-trained staff behind their success. Let’s look at the calf rearing aspect first. The calves at Gordie

Jones’ now go away to be reared but he was at pains to say good calf rearing is often about the individual. Mr Jones said: “They are required to have empathy and patience with these calves in order to be successful.” Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with both characteristics. Colostrum Colostrum management is similar across all farms. When the colostrum is taken from the cow it is cooled immediately and pasteurised, and the quality is checked before being fed to the calf. The aim at Mr Wagner’s unit is to get four litres of good

All calves are housed in pairs in hutches.



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I would never move back to milk replacer now. You cannot replicate whole milk in the powder Hank Wagner quality colostrum into the calf within one hour and ideally within 30 minutes. Mr Wagner is a great believer

Hank Wagner’s livestock house was designed to optimise ventilation.

in feeding calves pasteurised, whole milk three times daily, eventually getting them up to four litres at each feed. The calves are weighed at birth, at weaning, and again when leaving to go to the heifer-rearing unit. Calves gaining 0.8kg by weaning are considered to be at the lower end and will be culled. Although genetics is a big part of developing his herd to what it is today, Mr Wagner does not believe there is as much value in genomics as people like to think. After years of monitoring his calves, Mr Wagner has come to the conclusion animals with low growth rates as calves do not milk well in adulthood. Those animals which can grow well when young can also convert feed to milk when in the milking herd. “We therefore decided these calves needed to be gaining at least 1kg per day to stay in the herd. It isn’t uncommon to see up to 1.3kg of weight gain per day.” All the whole milk is pasteurised before being fed to the calves. Most of the milk comes from fresh cows but Mr Wagner will happily take milk out the tank if necessary to continue to get the better growth rates. He said: “I would never move back to milk replacer now. You cannot replicate whole milk in the powder. They grow so well – they are really healthy and very few treatments are required.”

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:13


Mr Wagner’s daughter rears the calves and, looking at how well-grown they are, she certainly possesses the empathy and patience to which Mr Jones referred. Starting at two litres, fed three times daily, they aim to go up by a litre per week. Weaning starts at around seven weeks old, with the aim of being fully weaned by nine weeks if all goes well. All calves are housed in hutches with two calves to a hutch. “This encourages feeding competition,” said Mr Wagner . Calves have only been in pairs for a year but Mr Wagner said he had already seen a difference over and above the obvious benefits of three times-a-day feeding. Stress Calves are given hay when they are first weaned. Then they are slowly transitioned to a total mixed ration at about four months old. When they are eating up to 12lb of calf starter they move into groups of eight, then moving to 16 per group and finally 21 per group. The aim here is to gradually expose them to bigger groups so they are ready to cope when arriving with the heifer rearer with the minimal amount of stress. All three of these farms strongly believe production follows excellent, not just acceptable, cow health. Healthy cows start in the dry period. Both Mr Wagner and Central Sands feed Mr Jones’ championed ‘Goldilocks diet’ during the transition period. This is a lowenergy, high-fibre diet which, when fed correctly, leads to cows calving in with little to no metabolic problems. “It really does work,” said Mr Jones. “It is so simple. Not too much, not too little, but just right.” Mr Wagner firmly believes the high

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37 17/08/2018 13:13

USA A special low-energy, highfibre diet is mixed and fed during the transition period.

fibre, low energy transition diet marked the beginning of his success where his cows now average 49 litres production each day, despite not having access to BST since December 2017. Both, however, warned it absolutely had to be constructed, mixed and presented meticulously to the cows to make sure they ate the ration properly and could not sort it, while also maintaining excellent rumen fill in the lead up to calving. This meant that when they calved and went go onto a milking ration full of goodies, they would eat, eat and eat some more. “Intake is the key,” said Mr Jones. “Steaming up transition cows with high levels of energy will not only reduce rumen fill in the lead up to calving, but it will also suppress appetite in the fresh cow which predisposes them to metabolic problems such as retained cleansings, metritis and left displaced abomasums.” When asked about dry cow therapy, all the farms were aware of increased pressure to reduce blanket antibiotic use. However, the concept of selective dry cow therapy did not



***DF Sept p36 37 38 40 41 USA.indd 4

seem to have taken off in the US yet. This was an area where all farms were keen to learn about the UK experience. When the cow is ready to calve, Mr Matthews, long-time manager of Rosy Lane, is adamant she should be treated with respect and care. “I try to liken a calving cow to a human situation. If a cowman’s wife or girlfriend were having a baby, it wouldn’t be born in two minutes. It takes time and care, ensuring the woman’s comfort is top priority. Why should it be acceptable to jump in with a calving aid in the first 30 minutes when a cow is calving?” Cleansing rate Mr Matthews looked at this in some detail a few years ago and, since radically reducing the rate at which calvings were assisted, is 100% convinced this has helped to reduce his retained cleansing rate to less than 1%. “We aim at assisting one out of 100 calvings. Since we made this decision, our retained cleansing rate has dropped dramatically,” he said. Mr Wagner has a similar attitude. The Wagner policy is to

If your cows aren’t getting in calf, it is not about what hormones you are using Gordie Jones constantly look at what they do and then try to do things better than they were, before moving on to get bigger. He now calves his cows in an individual calving pen before immediately removing the calf so it can receive colostrum and neonatal calf care. There is then a strict protocol which is followed to the letter to ensure the cow is checked for twins, given fresh food, water, a calcium bolus, and made generally comfortable. When it comes to fertility, all farms carry out some form of synchronisation. It was stressed, however, that synchronisation was not used as a sticking plaster to fix fertility issues.

When asked about fertility problems, Mr Jones said: “If your cows aren’t getting in calf, it is not about what hormones you are using. It is about what they are eating, how comfortable they are and how happy they are moving through the parlour.” Viewing With a 70-point rotary, Mr Jones’ Jerseys certainly look contented when watched from his favourite viewing point for cows, the centre of the rotary. With heads lolling and cuds being chewed, cow cannot wait to get onto the rotary – there was certainly a relaxed feeling of contentedness in these cows. And with a pregnancy rate consistently greater than 30%, they are definitely doing something right. Mr Wagner and his vet are fans of the double ovsynch protocol, with all cows being served at 65 days post calving to a double ovsynch. After this initial service, the cows were watched for natural returns. Anything found to be open was then put back on ovsynch if considered to be worth a second service. The main idea here was to get the fewest days between

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16/08/2018 14:11:49

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USA The milking routine should be precise, repeatable and systematic Jordan Matthews The shed has a 90cm (3ft) fan spaced every three metres (10ft).

breedings if it did not succeed in getting pregnant the first time. Conception rate has been as high as 50% on first lactation cows and about 42% on second and higher lactation cows. Mr Wagner said: “We aim for a pregnancy rate of 30%. When we hit this target, we all go out to a good steakhouse to celebrate and to give the staff a reward for their hard work.” However, consistency is their main sticking point. “We have recently fallen back to 28%, which we are all frustrated about after we thought we had cracked it,” he said. When it comes to cow comfort, all three farms bed on deep sand. “I believe in keeping life simple. We like to minimise the amount of sand used but still keep the cows comfortable,” said Mr Wagner. To do this, he has tyres in all his cubicles. He believes this cuts down on sand use as well as ensuring the sand levels will never get below the curb, thereby reducing urine pooling in stalls. Mr Wagner warned, though, how important it was care was taken over tyre placement. They have to be installed correctly and should be anywhere from an inch below the curb to level with the curb. “Depending on the type of tyre you are using, you will need to



***DF Sept p36 37 38 40 41 USA.indd 5

hand fill the inside of all the tyres to pack the sand in there to make sure there is no give in the tyre when the cow lies down. This means you literally have to get down on your hands and knees to pack those tyres out by hand.” With the value of sand and labour saved, Mr Wagner said he believed the extra cow comfort made it an exercise well worth carrying out. Comfort When discussing cow comfort, ventilation was very high up the list in these US herds. Although obvious heat stress is not generally a problem in the UK for long periods of time, oxygen supply and air exchanges should not be ignored in older sheds. Mr Wagner said: “Following our concept of ‘Faster, easier, better, smarter’, we tried a lot of different fans with different spacings and different angles, and we checked how cows responded. We found the right system needed a 3ft fan every 10 feet. We need air where the cows are. It is very common to go into a shed where the feed passage is well ventilated and airy, but the area where the cows are is not.” As well as being important for removing stale air, fans also help improve oxygen levels, a benefit which is often not con-

sidered. In the older-style facilities, Mr Wagner suggests that using ventilation to improve air quality should be considered as a way to improve the environment without necessarily needing to rebuild your shed, with the ultimate aim of four air exchanges per hour. While Rosy Lane is on twicea-day milking, Central Sands is on three times daily, but Wagner Farms has recently gone to milking the whole herd four times each day to try to hold on to their peaks of nearly 50 litres daily after the loss of BST. Although this is a recently introduced idea, but Mr Wagner is hopeful it is the way forward for them. It has allowed one more person to be added to the labour pool, allowing a better and more flexible rota. Mr Wagner discussed how difficult it was to acquire good labour, just like in UK. He said the best positive gained from moving to four times daily milking had been a reduction in somatic cell counts, dropping to 80,000 from 120,000. It is still early days, but it would be interesting to catch up with Mr Wagner in 12 months’ time to see how things are going then. Even when discussing the four times daily milking routine, Mr Wagner never moves away

from the idea cow comfort must come first. He said: “We milk in such a way we make sure no group is away more than one hour, allowing the cows to have access to food and bed for 20 hours a day.” Without doubt, attitude to staff management was very different on these three farms from that on most UK dairies. The approach, however, was very similar between these farms. Incentive It revolved around structure, protocols and organisation. Staff were valued, training was given and incentives offered. However, all three dairies struggled with turnover of milking staff. Mr Matthews said: “There are definitely easier and more pleasant ways to earn a living than by milking cows. So I need to make it as pleasant as I can for my guys so they want to come to work in the morning. They are invested in this place – a little bit of it is theirs. They rely on it to put food on the table for their kids, so there needs to be a culture of fairness along with accountability and loyalty. “The milking routine should be precise, repeatable and systematic. No decision-making should be required for the milkers.” The word ‘protocol’ seemed to come up regularly. Given a clear, structured protocol where everyone knew what was

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:13


Gordie Jones’ Jerseys consistently achieve a 30% pregnancy rate.

expected of them, people were happier in their work. Mr Jones adds: “Do things which are easy. The simpler things are, the easier it is to stick to the protocol, and the better

the morale of the staff.” Mr Matthews uses a blip with fresh cows as an example. He said: “We should look back together at our protocol to find out what went wrong. We aim

for a staff culture of accountability. It isn’t just the manager/ owner who should be looking out for problems.” On leaving each of these farms, it was clear many of

their concepts were not new, but they were carried out with pride and precision, highlighting how important it was to get the basics right to achieve top-level success.


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Genomic testing of females allows John Sprackman to better understand individual animal merits and make more informed selection decisions.

Maximising herd potential Combining the use of sexed semen with genomic testing of females will help Gloucestershire farmer John Sprackman maximise the potential of his herd as he moves to a robotic milking system.

We got 32 Holstein heifers in one month. That was unreal. That was more than we had in a year with conventional [semen]

John Sprackman 42



y getting an early indication of genetic merit through genomic testing heifer calves, John Sprackman’s aim is to rank possible replacements based on the herd’s specific breeding criteria, and retain those that best meet requirements. Those that are less suitable, but still of high quality, will then be sold to create a valuable additional income stream. Mr Sprackman has long been convinced of the merits of using sexed semen, having initially started using it in 2003. After struggling to produce enough replacements using conventional semen, sexed proved a revelation. He says: “We got 32 Holstein heifers in one month. That was unreal. That was more than we had in a year with conventional.” Since then, he has used sexed semen on cows and heifers from his 200-cow pedigree Larchcover Holstein-Friesian herd at Pound House Farm, Bristol. This enables the business to sell about 100 cows and heifers a year. Up until three months ago, the farm was using

SexedULTRA 2M, but has since moved to SexedULTRA 4M, which includes double the amount of semen per straw to promote conception rates similar to conventional. Both cows and heifers are artificially inseminated to sexed semen twice. If necessary, cows will then be AI’d to British Blue, and heifers to Aberdeen Angus.

Conception rates

Heifers are achieving conception rates of 70% to first service, and the whole herd is averaging about 40%. While it is still too early to see any difference between 2M and 4M, it is hoped conception levels will be raised further in cows. Mr Sprackman believes that automated heat detection collars on cows and heifers, good feeding strategy and close attention to semen handling at AI is essential when looking to achieve good conception rates. The ability to successfully breed so many heifers means Mr Sprackman has a steady demand from other farmers for quality


***DF Sept p42 43 Cogent (signed off).indd 2

15/08/2018 14:13


GENOMIC TESTING AT POUND HOUSE FARM A TOTAL of 39 of the 60 heifers that were genetically tested are now in the herd, with genomic proofs just received from 160 additional animals. Results from both tests have highlighted the genetic worth of the herd:

l The first 39 heifers had an average Genomic Profitable Lifetime Index

(£GPLI) of £175, Milk Index of +169 litres and a +1.3 Fertility Index l The second set of 160 had an average £GPLI of £241, Milk Index of +255 litres and +1.2 Fertility Index

John Powrie of Duffield’s Animal Feeds has cross referenced the genomic proof of the first 39 heifers with performance and noticed strong correlation. For example: l The top 10 heifers ranked on peak milk had an average milk Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA) of +310 litres; in the herd these animals averaged 39.12 litres/day l The bottom 10 heifers ranked on peak milk had an average PTA of +125 litres; in the herd these animals averaged 27.56 litres/day

Will Sprackman (left) and John Powrie.


Combining genomic testing with the use of sexed semen on your best heifers can lead to nearly a fivefold increase in genetic progress every generation, compared to serving all heifers to conventional semen.

replacements. Although selling milk remains the priority, he says heifer sales provide a worthwhile additional income. He says: “I cannot afford to rear a HolsteinFriesian bull calf. A Holstein-Friesian heifer is three times the value of a bull calf and sexed semen does not cost three times as much. “Farmers ask ‘how can you afford to use sexed semen?’ I say, how can you afford not to.” Having so many heifers available to him means that 72% of the milking herd is currently made up of first and second lactation animals. The herd average is currently 9,884 litres per cow per year. Until recently, replacements were selected based on parent averages and

(Top picture) John (left) and Steven Sprackman.

by eye, but 12 months ago Mr Sprackman decided to genomic test a sample of females to see whether the strategy could help him understand individual animal merits and make more informed selection. About 60 in-calf heifers were initially tested using Cogent’s genomic testing service (see ‘Cogent’s Precision DNA genomic testing service’ panel below). Cattle specialist John Powrie, of Duffield’s Animal Feeds, then ran through the results with Cogent’s Martin Ley to establish correlations between genomic proofs and how animals performed in their first lactation. The results proved so accurate (see ‘Genomic testing at Pound House Farm’ panel), that Mr Sprackman has since tested 160 heifers. The results are just being analysed, but will be used as part of a replacement selection strategy.

COGENT’S PRECISION DNA GENOMIC TESTING SERVICE l Genomic testing enables an animal’s genetic potential to be predicted from a young age by comparing its DNA to a ‘key’, which is representative of the national bovine population for a specific breed l An ear tissue sample is taken and the DNA is then broken down by Genetic Visions in the US l This information is sent to AHDB Dairy, which formulates the genomic evaluations in the UK; and this takes about eight weeks l The farmer then receives an individual animal’s genomic proof, which looks similar to a bull proof

Mr Sprackman says having access to genomic information is helpful, as genomic data identifies the best performing animals before they calve. This also ensures only the best are retained, whereas in the past some of these may have been unknowingly sold. Mr Powrie believes genomic testing will enable the business to make more informed selection. This will allow the farm to select the most suitable replacement animals for the herd and retain them for longer, rather than using them to voluntarily replace third lactation plus animals at peak production.

Boosting yields

Ultimately, Mr Powrie says this should help boost yields once the herd moves onto a robotic milking system later in the year. He says: “Cows are averaging 12,000 litres, so we know the herd could achieve these levels of production. But Mr Sprackman’s herd average is reduced by first and second lactation animals. “Now, rather than putting all heifers into the herd, genomics can separate the gene pool.” Mr Powrie says this strategy, combined with moving from twice-a-day milking to robotic milking, could mean a herd average of 14,000 litres per cow per year is achievable.

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SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p42 43 Cogent (signed off).indd 3


43 15/08/2018 14:13

MACHINERY A Dutch dairy farmer, whose cows have just learned how to graze again after being indoors, is using a novel method to measure his grass yields. Chris McCullough reports.

Mowing kit takes readings of grass


iet Jan Thibaudier, 31, discovered the pasture reading technology in Australia and adapted it to fit onto the mower that sits on the front of his tractor. The technology is able to measure the height of the grass when cutting, as well as the yield and, with this information, Piet can draw up a field map that highlights the areas of the field requiring fertiliser the most, therefore preventing over use and saving money. Piet now milks 185 cross-bred cows on 100 hectares near Lemmer in partnership with father Luut and mother Coby. The herd averages 8700kg per cow per year at 4.5% butterfat and

3.65% protein, but the goal is to increase this average to 10,000kg with 5% butterfat and 4% protein. Years ago, when Piet’s father ran the farm, the cows were switched from a pasture-based system to being kept indoors, and were fed daily on a zero grazing ration. Bonus However, with buyer Friesland Campina starting to offer a bonus of 1.5 euro cents per litre (1.3ppl) for milk produced from grazing cows, on top of the 34 euro cents price (30ppl), there was an incentive to change. When an earlier opportunity also arose for Piet to take over a neighbouring herd of 45 cows and

Piet Jan Thibaudier with some of his cows.



***DF Sept P44 Mower.indd 2

The mower Piet has adapted to carry the yield reading device.

a further 25ha of land, he jumped at the chance, albeit with the understanding that changes to his feeding system were essential. Piet says: “A neighbour was quitting dairying and asked me if I wanted to take on his herd and land. I wanted to expand at that time and was able to take over. “That brought my cow numbers up to more than 180 and I was running a 20% replacement rate for followers. So with the bonus from Friesland Campina, I decided to let the cows out. “However, my cows had not been out to the fields in 10 years

and had never learned how to graze. It was remarkable to see the 45 cows from the neighbour’s herd educate my cows on how to eat grass in a field again. “Our cows are milked twice-a-day and graze six hours a day. I want to increase that to 12 hours/day with 150 days of grazing in the season.” As a result of allowing the herd to graze outdoors, Piet’s fodder costs fell by two euro cents per litre (1.8ppl), but he knew the farm required a better grassland management plan. With this in mind, and with his passion for innovation, Piet surfed the web for technology that could help monitor his grass growth, and discovered the pasture reader in Australia. Piet adopted the technology from Australia with Arjan Hulsman to suit his own farming system by mounting the sensors and readers on to his mower on the front of his tractor. He says: “Before grass is cut, sensors measure the height and yield of the sward as the mower passes over it. “This information tells me which are the weakest parts of the pasture and which areas I need to fertilise the most.”

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UK DAIRY DAY SEPT 12 With UK Dairy Day incorporating the National Ayrshire Show, the Williams family will be showing attempt to promote the breed and, hopefully, add more silverware to their other show successes.


he Williams family has grown accustomed to collecting silverware for their pedigree herd of Ayrshires, but although the showring is a valuable showcase for promoting their stock and genetics, their emphasis is firmly on providing commercial milk producers with a functional animal. Philip Williams, the immediate past president of the Ayrshire Cattle Society, says: “Our breeding aim has always been to create a profitable and functional cow with a bit of extra style.” The family farm at Home Farm, Leweston, on a 51-hectare unit near Haverfordwest which Philip and Sharon bought in 1991, and now manage with their son Stuart. Five years later, they increased their holding by 35ha after purchasing another

Top Ayrshires to strut their stuff in the showring farm, and now rent a further 28ha to run their youngstock. The herd comprises 180 milkers and 120 followers, with the cows grouped according to yield. In winter, the herd’s diet is a basic ration of grass silage and a cereal-based blend, topped up in the parlour according to yield. Milk is sold to Glanbia Cheese. The high yielders are also fed

UK Dairy Day details rDate: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 rVenue: International Centre, Telford rPostcode: TF3 4JH



***DF Sept P46 47 Ayshires.indd 2

rTickets: Free rParking: Free, validate ticket at event rTime: 8am to 5.30pm

this ration in evenings in summer and graze during the day, while the lows are on a grass diet only throughout the summer. In 1984, the family’s small herd of Holstein-Friesians was graded up and, in 1999, Willhome Ayrshires was founded. Philip says: “Stuart was interested in showing and we didn’t have the extreme Holstein cow to compete in the showring, so we opted for a different breed that suited our system. “Initially, we purchased many families from the Knutsford and Parcgwyn herds and, more recently, the entire Pam Ayrs herd. Over the years, we have tried to purchase individuals from families that take our fancy.”

The number of Ayrshires increased and currently account for half the stock on-farm. As numbers have expanded, quality has never slipped with successive wins at local and national shows, not only within the breed but across the dairy section. Philip says: “It’s great to win your section and when numbers are reasonably small it means so much more to stand at the top of the dairy line.” The Williams family are renowned for their show successes and for the publicity they give the Ayrshire breed, as very often there will be a large line-up of immaculately turned-out Willhome cows and heifers at these events.

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 12:59

so De

wing ses.

SEPT 12 UK DAIRY DAY some top class animals in an Debbie James reports.

Lining up in the showring.

Crowds at the indoor stands at last year’s event.

In 2013, the herd won the National Society’s Haresfoot Vase after accumulating points from all national shows, and the herd has since been runner-up on two occasions. A major accolade was achieved in 2017 when the family won the dairy pairs at the Royal Welsh Show with two homebred cows. But it is not only in the showring that the family has had success. They have also bred three bulls which have entered bull studs for semen collection, and they are proving very successful at Cattle Services Ayr. Families From their current herd mix, they restrict sires to a limited number of families to build up uniformity in the herd. Philip says: “Sires we hold in high regard and will appear in many sire stacks are Cuthill Towers Autumn Gold, McCornick Nelson and Legace Ristourn.” Current sires in the flask include Willhome Challenger, Hunnington Famous, Hilltown Oblique and Cuthill Towers Majestic, and these go alongside their own stock bull Willhome Pams Horizon. Philip says: “We are always excited to see our youngstock join the milking herd, especially with a large number sired by Cuthill Towers Barney Rubble Ex95. “His first crop of daughters have calved well and all his stock certainly have a characteristic stamp.”


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Preparing for tight ammonia limits


ne of the talks at the UK Dairy Day seminars will examine the whole area of farm emissions, and why we need to start thinking about them now. Forward planning at a farm level

is crucial if UK agriculture is to meet impending ammonia reduction targets, according to Tom Gill from Promar. Farming is responsible for 88% of total emissions of ammonia, a powerful pollutant which combines with other pollutants in the

UK Dairy Day: Timetable of seminars Time Zone Presentation 10am 1 Improving youngstock health/welfare Katherine Baxter-Smith, MSD Animal Health 10.20am 2 Genomics and traceability Holstein UK and NBDC 10.40am 1 Drying off: a crucial part of the dairy cow lactation cycle Sioned Timothy, Boehringer Ingelheim 11am 2 Maximising profit per pregnancy Mark Roach, Cogent 11.20am 1 Forward planning key to meeting impending ammonia regulations Tom Gill, Promar 11.40am 2 The impact of calf rearing on future productivity of a cow Bianca Theeruth, Cargill 12 noon 1 Feeding cows this winter with low forage availability Adam Clay, NWF Agriculture 12.20pm 2 Why are we throwing money down the drain in antibiotics for calves? Matt Yarnall, Boehringer Ingelheim 12.40pm 1 Taking responsibility for TB – whose job is it anyway? Sarah Tomlinson, TB Advisory Service 1pm 2 Industry panel Q&A 2pm 1 Focusing on feed management in times of uncertainty Ian Leach, Alltech and Keenan 2.20pm 2 More milk, less time: Maximising parlour throughput Tom Greenham, Advance Milking 2.40pm 1 Farm labour post-Brexit Wyn Morgan, Harper Adams 3pm 2 A new approach to protein formulation in dairy rations – could it benefit your business? Iwan Vaughan, Wynnstay 3.20pm 1 Johne’s – mapping out the future XL Vets 3.40pm 2 Grant funding Presenter pending



***DF Sept p48 Seminars.indd 2

atmosphere to create very small particles which can be harmful to people when inhaled. Farmers do not fully realise or understand their actions are impacting on human health as much as the wider environment, suggests Mr Gill. UK farmers now have 10 years to address this issue and they must plan for change now, urges Mr Gill. He says: “It is a challenging time, but take control now. Work with the right people to get the right information to understand what is happening on-farm.” Farmers will be required to invest in the infrastructure and equipment necessary to reduce emissions.

Genetics and housing, items such as slurry storage and outdoor loafing areas, and methods of applying nutrients, both mineral fertilisers as well as organic matter, are where change is needed, says Mr Gill. There are opportunities for farmers to reduce ammonia emissions by using low emission slurry application methods, such as shallow injection or band spreading, fitting their manure stores with covers and adopting precision livestock feeding to avoid excess protein in diets. Mr Gill says: “It is not about big or small. It is about all businesses. This applies to every sector of agriculture, but dairy must do its fair share.”

Work with the right people to get the right information to understand what is happening Tom Gill

More efficient milking Regularly monitoring milking routines and implementing changes where required can speed up milking times, improve udder health and result in more milk in the tank, a study has shown. Vet Tom Greenham, of Advance Milking, has gathered 12 months of data on milking routines to work out how parlour throughput can be maximised. He says: “People do not really have much of an idea of what makes milking inefficient, and what measures they can take to become efficient, but there are some really easy wins to be had. “If cows can spend less time in the parlour, they have more time

eating and lying down. If staff spend less time milking, it frees up labour time.” But efficiency solutions will vary from system to system. Different Mr Greenham says: “Changes that will create milking routine efficiencies on an extensive spring block-calving system will be different to those for an intensive all-yearround calving system. “It might involve changes to machine settings to make sure you are taking milk from the cow in the most efficient way possible, and making sure it is milking as gently as possible.”

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UK DAIRY DAY SEPT 12 With maize harvest looking to be at least two weeks earlier in many parts of the country, Brian Copestake, LG UK sales manager, says it is important to grasp the opportunities.

Making the most of this year’s early maize harvest


armers need to first focus on harvesting their maize in optimum conditions and then to exploit any opportunities to sow crops to produce some additional forage. That is the opinion of Brian Copestake, who believes many growers may actually be harvesting as much as four weeks earlier due to a combination of the season and the swing to growing earlier maturing varieties this year that are typically two weeks ahead of later maturing varieties, irrespective of the season. He says: “It is a fallacy that maize needs to be dead before harvesting. The target range for an optimum crop is 32-35% dry matter. At dry matter levels higher than this, palatability and intakes can be reduced, digestibility will be compromised and the crop may prove difficult to consolidate, increasing the risk of aerobic spoilage. Crops will dry down at 2% per week, so it is



***DF Sept P50 Early harvest.indd 2

important to start measuring dry matter and assessing maturity sooner rather than later. “Look to harvest when no juice emerges as the stem is twisted, and when the leaves level with the cob are just beginning to turn brown. The grains at the top of the cob should be like soft cheese, the ones at the bottom should be like hard cheese and the ones in the middle should be soft enough to leave the imprint of a thumbnail on. Our Maize Manager app contains all the information needed to assess crops for harvest. “As well as regularly walking and assessing the crop, it is vital to talk to your contractor so that they are aware of likely harvesting dates. By reacting to the season, you will be able to ensure the best quality forage.” Mr Copestake says a big benefit of an early harvest this year will be the opportunity to get on to stubbles more quickly, which

will bring environmental advantages, coupled with a chance to take action to improve forage stocks for winter. He says with soil temperatures likely to remain high, it is possible that crops established soon after maize has been harvested could be growing until early November, allowing a number of alternatives to be considered. He suggests one option would be to break up

Brian Copestake

the surface and to broadcast a mixture of rape and stubble turnips. Assuming 10-12 weeks of growth, it should be possible to produce around 3 tonnes of DM/hectare to be grazed from November onwards. Mr Copestake says grazing youngstock or possibly far off dry cows would reduce their requirement for silage, making more available for the milking herd. If 10ha of rape and stubble turnips were grown, this would give 30,000kg DM, enough to feed 50-head of youngstock for 120 days at 5kg DM/day. If these cattle would normally consume an equivalent amount of DM of silage, this would save 100t of 30% DM silage. An alternative would be to grow a catch crop of Italian ryegrass which could either be grazed or zero-grazed in spring, allowing an earlier start to the grazing season. Or it could be taken for bales in autumn and an early first cut.

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:08

SEPT 12 UK DAIRY DAY Udder hygiene

Five key steps can improve calf health.

Meeting calf rearing goals


espite saying they are relatively happy with their youngstock rearing practices, nearly half of UK dairy farmers still feel their herd replacements do not get the attention they deserve. That is according to a recent national youngstock survey carried out by MSD Animal Health in spring. The survey’s co-ordinator Robert Simpson says: “With 41% of dairy farmer respondents saying their heifers calve down at more than the recommended 24 months of age, there is certainly much to be gained by improving management practices in this crucial area.” MSD Animal Health will use the opportunity at UK Dairy Day to showcase the range of value-added youngstock services available from local vet practices. Mr Simpson says: “Calf rearing is a complex process to get absolutely right, but is definitely rewarding if a number of simple husbandry guidelines and proven health protocols are implemented to suit any particular youngstock

production system. If you are a dairy farmer concerned about calf health, or simply think your youngstock management could be improved, you can now ask your vet for a detailed, score-based audit of your rearing system. “Thanks to our interactive checklist, your vet can now work closely with you to address youngstock rearing concerns and to draw up a workable action plan to improve calf health.” ■ MSD Animal Health will have copies of the checklist available at UK Dairy Day and will highlight the five steps to better calf health. Go to Hall 1, stand H155.

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51 15/08/2018 16:15

UK DAIRY DAY SEPT 12 Tips on maximising forage for the coming winter will be a key part of Grainseed’s UK Dairy Day stand. Wilson Hendry

Westerwolds could help plug autumn forage gap


fter such a difficult year for producing forage, dairy farmers need to carefully weigh up their options for maximising feed resources for the coming winter, says Wilson Hendry of forage specialist Grainseed. Visitors to the company’s stand at UK Dairy Day will be able to discuss options for reducing the shortfall as much as possible and minimising their bought-in feed bills, he explains. For producers whose maize simply stopped growing as a result of lack of water and were forced to cut the crop prematurely, sowing Westerwolds ryegrass could produce harvestable grass before the winter. He says: “Sowing Westerwolds towards the end of August could produce enough bulk to take a cut in late autumn and provide a much needed early bite, or a further cut the following spring. “Modern Westerwolds varieties are very quick-growing



***DF Sept P52 Westerwolds.indd 2

and relatively hardy, and could provide vital grazing through the winter period too, if managed properly. It does all depend on whether we get rain in the early autumn or if there is sufficient moisture in the soil for germination from late summer onwards. “It might also be worth looking at stubble turnip and forage rape in this scenario, too.” Maturity Those growers who were able to let their maize reach maturity, albeit probably harvesting it earlier than normal, should consider drilling an Italian ryegrass or hybrid ryegrass ley straight away after the crop has been taken, advises Mr Hendry. “You probably won’t be able to get a cut in before winter, but you will be able to take a good early cut from the end of April to midMay, with a fresh yield potential of between eight and 10 tonnes per acre. “Ideally, a mix of predominantly Italian and hybrid

ryegrasses, such as Horizon Seeds’ Clampfiller, would be the best choice in giving a good balance of yield and quality.” Finally, he says, if your maize matured at roughly the same time as normal, your options will be more limited for reseeding afterwards, but depending on where you are in the country, rye might be worth considering. “That could provide some grazing during February and March, and you can also treat it as a grass ley and take an early silage cut in April.” Whatever you decide, he says, you should pay particular attention to how you manage the clamping of your maize this year. “If your harvested maize has higher dry matter, you should consider chopping it slightly shorter than normal for better clamp stability. If it is drier, chopping it shorter to say 1014mm, will aid conservation and allow for better compaction. “It is also worth looking at using an oxygen-scavenging

additive, such as Silosolve FC in this situation, as this will help start the ensiling process much more quickly. “A product such as Silostop Max, which is an 80-micron, extra tough, all-in-one oxygen barrier film, is the most effective way to seal your clamp and the resulting reduction in wastage will ensure it pays for itself pretty quickly.” Location The problems people are facing depend on the area of the country they are farming in, but there are some general rules all milk producers should follow to make the best out of a bad lot, Wilson Hendry says. “It takes a bit of a different mindset from normal, but there are opportunities to reduce the damage of the year, and to do that you’ll need to make full use of the next few weeks.” ■ More information can be obtained from the Grainseed stand H235 at Dairy Day.

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:09



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UK DAIRY DAY SEPT 12 James Evans’ enduring passion for Jersey cattle began as a four-year-old, parading his family’s best cow around the showring in his native Pembrokeshire. Debbie James finds out more. Barrie (left) and James with Saxown Colton Heidi 19.

Lifelong Jersey passion seen in showing success


ith an early passion for the breed and interest in showing, it was perhaps inevitable that by the age of 11 James had his own cattle and, fast forward to 2018, the now 38-year-old’s commitment to the breed is unwavering. He regards the island of Jersey, where he spent many childhood holidays, as his second home. He spent his university sandwich year on the island working with John Le Feuvre’s Elite herd. He says: “I visit Jersey at least twice-a-year and feel privileged to help some breeders show their cattle there.” James will be competing with his own cattle at this autumn’s UK Dairy Day in Telford.



The herd was established in 1979 under the Mydrim herd prefix and, after it was dispersed in 1987, James took over the prefix. He says: “Even at school I had a passion for Jersey cattle and knew it was something in which I wanted to succeed.” He was committed to the Jersey breed even though his friends were favouring Holsteins and Friesians. James’ father Barrie says: “He used to get stick for having Jerseys because everyone else had black-and-whites, but there are now a lot of those Holstein herds that also have Jerseys.” The Future Dreams prefix was established as a joint venture with Barrie in 2001. The pair had invested in embryos flushed

from a global legend of the Jersey breed, Huronia Centurion Veronica Excellent 97. James says: “It was quite something for us to get hold of those embryos. To this day, my mother doesn’t know how much we paid for them. But they were worth every penny.’’ Heifer The embryos resulted in Future Dreams Signature Volcano Excellent 94, a bull used in artificial insemination across the UK, and a heifer, Future Dreams Signature Veronica, who went on to be classified as EX94 and who has since produced six heifers. James works full-time for Mole Valley Farmers as an animal nutritionist and spends the rest of his time with his Jersey herd

at Broadway Farm, Llawhaden. The herd numbers 28 cows and followers and has an average classification of 92.25. Cows are housed at night and fed a ration incorporating big bale silage and good quality hay, sugar beet, lucerne and a blend. Concentrates up to a maximum of 8kg are fed in the abreast parlour. The herd is vaccinated against rotavirus and coronavirus and, three weeks before calving, they get a bolus to prevent ketosis. Cows are routinely given a rehydration drink and a calcium bolus post-calving. The aim is to calve heifers at two years old. Calves receive colostrum for the first four days and are then reared on whole milk for 12 weeks. After weaning their diet is


***DF Sept 54 55 Jerseys JAMES EVANS .indd 2

17/08/2018 13:15

SEPT 12 UK DAIRY DAY equal quantities of hay and straw together with calf rearing nuts. At 12 months, 1.5kg of lucerne is added to the ration. From a commercial perspective, James says the Jersey pushes all the right buttons. “They have longevity, an excellent temperament, are great to work with and have excellent yields considering the size of the animal. They have become very popular in recent years, with milk price favouring quality over quantity.” The herd produces an average yield of 8140 litres at 5.59% butterfat and 3.95% protein. From James’ perspective, a cow needs a multitude of traits. “She must have plenty of power, dairy strength, a good set of legs and feet, a really well attached mammary and breed character.” Cows in the herd were flushed for embryos eight years ago and this has been repeated this year. Signatures Veronica, a 10-yearold, produced five embryos

Future Dreams Tequila Veronica.

sired by Rock Ella Impression. She will now be on a continuous flushing programme. James says: “She has had eight calves: three heifers classified as Excellent, one as Very Good and a son classified as Very Good. Last year she had a very promising daughter.” A financial highlight was selling her granddaughter at Carlisle last December for 7500gns after she won the Jersey competition at the All Britain Calf Show.

It is a competition James has won at many times – winning on three occasions, being awarded a reserve twice and getting an honourable mention, all within six years. On a personal level, a high point for James was winning the 2010 National Calf Show in Stoneleigh with Mydrim Remakes Tara 2, who is an EX94 and has also bred All Britain winners. A more recent highlight was judging at the Great Yorkshire Show last year

and he will never forget judging at The Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Summer Country Fair in June. James is a life member of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau, a full member and former director of the society, and also a full judging member for the society. But he loves nothing more than showing his cattle. “I show because it is a chance to catch up with like-minded people and it is also a shop window for our business,” says James. Among the animals James will exhibit will be Saxown Colton Heidi 19, a heifer who clinched the Jersey heifer championship and reserve inter-breed championship at the Royal Welsh Show, and who is jointly owned with Frank Poskitt. James always tries to stay one step ahead. He says: “My outlook on life in everything I do is to always do my best, never to settle for second best.”

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SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept 54 55 Jerseys JAMES EVANS .indd 3


55 17/08/2018 09:12

UK DAIRY DAY SEPT 12 Forage experts Germinal will be advising dairy farmers to maximise the metabolisable energy potential of any late establishment opportunities to minimise the longer-term impact of the drought.

Autumn drilling key to restoring forage stocks


ccording to Germinal GB’s Ben Wixey, there is more to be gained by prioritising D-value and planning for a two or three-year recovery than drilling short-term crops that provide bulk of lower quality. He says: “We do anticipate a relatively early maize harvest for some and soils staying warmer for longer after the heatwave, so there will be better prospects than usual to drill new grass leys. Shortfall “For those facing a forage shortfall, there will be a temptation to opt for the biggest yielding crop possible, but growing tonnage at the expense of quality is a missed opportunity. “We’ll be talking farmers through their late drilling options and helping them to work out their potential returns in terms of energy per hectare over several years rather than

Soils are expected to stay warmer for longer, extending the period when new leys can be established this autumn.

simply tonnes of dry matter over the next 12 months. “For most dairy farmers looking to rebalance forage supplies, hybrid ryegrass will now be their best option. “Hybrids combine the quick growth and high yield characteristics of Italian ryegrass with the quality and durability of perennial ryegrass. They will

Sowing short-term leys for tonnage without sustained quality will be a missed opportunity Ben Wixey 56


***DF Sept p56 Germinal.indd 2

offer season-long quality, still producing high D-values into third and fourth cuts, and will crucially remain productive into a third harvest year. “The sustained production potential of hybrid ryegrasses will be, in most cases, a better solution than straight Italian ryegrass or Westerwolds. While these options will undoubtedly produce a lot of grass over one or two cuts, the quality will fall away dramatically later in the season as the plants turn stemmy and put up seed heads. They will certainly not have the third-year production of hybrid ryegrasses.” Reseeding Autumn reseeding should also consider the role of perennial ryegrasses in rebuilding forage stocks over the longer term, as they offer the best quality and the greatest longevity, adds Mr Wixey, but whatever the strategy it will be essential to select

varieties that perform well on the latest Recommended Grass and Clover List. “The independently compiled Recommended List should be the starting point whenever deciding on a new ley. “The current list for England and Wales has 16 hybrid ryegrasses that have been trialled and tested and proven to perform, and there is a wealth of information within the list to help determine choices. “The two biggest determinants will be dry matter yields and D-value, as these are what contribute to the total metabolisable energy/ha potential. D-value can vary by as much as five percentage points between the best and the worst performing on the list, so it is well worth looking at the detail if you want to maximise the energy performance of your leys,” he says. Factors such as spring and autumn growth may also be important, as will soil structure, pH levels and P and K indices. 

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:10


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57 17/08/2018 11:58

DAIRY SHOW OCT 3 Staff recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges on UK dairy farms today and will be one of the seminars at this year’s Dairy Show. Debbie James reports.

Retaining farm staff will need change in mindset Dairy Show details rDate: Wednesday, October 3 rVenue: Bath & West Showground, BA4 6QN rAdvance tickets: £15


s UK dairy farms grow in scale, ever more responsibility is being delegated to staff, but attracting and retaining good employees is not easy. The cost of replacing a staff member can add up to £30,000, taking into account loss of knowledge, existing employee time to cover work in the staffing gap, and recruiting and training a replacement, according to Paul Harris. Mr Harris, of Real Success, will be the keynote speaker at the Dairy Show seminars. For some farms, he says, this cost could be the equivalent of 1ppl on the cost of production. He adds: “If a farmer lost 30 cows out of their herd without any payment or compensation, they would be very unhappy. But that could be the equivalent cost to their business of the mistakes that come with poor staff recruitment and retention.” Farmers who engage with

rExhibitor: £15 rStudent: £13 rOn gate: £17 rTime: 8.30am to 5pm

staff, he says, are more likely to retain them. Giving employees clear roles and responsibilities, and sharing business vision, goals and key performance indicators with them is key. As a business grows, a dairy farmer must spend more time managing a team. Farm workers are often highly-skilled and experienced, but training and development opportunities can be highly motivational. Training With appropriate training, employees can be empowered to do a better job. Mr Harris says: “It is a cliche, but farmers tell me that they worry if they train staff then they leave. The investment is wasted. I put it to them: but what if you don’t train them and they stay?” Farm business owners, he says, should adopt the correct training mentality. “Some farmers will think they have ticked the necessary boxes by putting a staff member

Tips to keep staff rTreat staff with respect rInvest in training rLearning how to engage with staff can pay off rStaff sometimes value time off over a cash bonus



***DF Sept P58 Staff.indd 2

Paul Harris

Farms with established protocols will be attractive to applicants.

through artificial insemination and foot-trimming courses, but they need to offer them opportunities beyond that, getting them involved in discussion groups and chances to learn more off the farm.” Meetings and appraisals are important, formal or informal, with clear communication, either one-to-one or in groups. Having an organised farm with established protocols will be attractive to new recruits. He says: “Think about their first impression of the farm. Higher standards tend to attract higher quality candidates.” Dynamics can change when a new employee joins a business, but ensuring they spend time working with all staff makes

integration easier and quicker. A competitive pay structure is important, but Mr Harris does not believe staff leave a farm purely because of poor pay. “They often leave because of apathy by the business owner, through a simple lack of care and attention.” All staff need to feel important, he says, but ways will vary. “For some, it may be about a bonus, for others it could be time off. One of the biggest groups affected by staff working long hours is their families, so on a block calving system you may want to give them extra time off. Gestures do not have to be big – little things regularly and often are good. Sometimes a simple thank you is sufficient.’’

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:11


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59 17/08/2018 11:54

DAIRY SHOW OCT 3 The combination of a prize-winning herd of Jerseys and an innovative approach to business is proving a formidable combination on a Bawtry farm.

Tom Dickinson with some of his Jersey heifers.

Award-winning Jerseys are key to farm target


ersey producer Tom Dickinson is only 33 years old, yet he is already planning for his retirement. He says: “That’s when I will measure the success of this business. I don’t want to get to 65 with nothing. If I have achieved what I want to achieve, I will be able to walk away.” Little more than a few minutes spent on Manor Farm, Scaftworth, near Bawtry, on the border of Notts and Yorks, leaves the visitor in no doubt whatsoever he will achieve his ambition. He will do so by keeping a tight grip on the commercial success of the business he runs with his parents, John and Susan, and grasping every opportunity as it comes his way.



***DF Sept p60 62 Dickinson.indd 2

At the core of the business is the family’s herd of Jerseys, a herd which has its origins in the cattle brought down from Thurlstone, just north of Sheffield, when Tom’s parents moved to their new farm tenancy in 1990. Since that time, Tom has become progressively more involved, culminating in joining the business as a partner on completing his degree in agriculture with business at Writtle University College in 2008. His time at Writtle has stood him in good stead. For today, everything is viewed through a business lens, ranging from the type of cattle he breeds for the dairy to the way he sells the farm’s potatoes to Walkers Crisps, its beetroot to Baxters

The King William pub.

and even some of his own herd’s pasteurised milk through a vending machine at the local King William pub. The family’s 270 Jerseys bear the Thurlstone prefix and are the workhorses at Manor Farm, churning out 6396 litres at 5.5% fat and 3.99% protein (305 days), according to CIS figures.

Tom says: “My target is to get to 10% milk solids – that’s the dream. We are not far off, but it will be hardest to raise the protein. “When we started supplying Longley Farm, our goal was to produce more butterfat, but eventually they had herds producing 7% and their system couldn’t cope. “Since then, fat started to lose popularity and, for the last eight years, protein has been worth twice as much as fat so we are now incentivised to lift protein to more than 4%.” To help him reach this goal, he has turned to the Danish Jersey, a breed which was first introduced to the formerly black-and-white herd in 2001. He says: “We sold 80 black-

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 11:21


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61 17/08/2018 09:35

DAIRY SHOW OCT 3 and-whites and restocked with Jerseys, and started to realise that the Jerseys did the basics better and were easier to manage. “We weren’t just paid more for the Jerseys’ milk, but they had better fertility, feet and legs, were better at grazing and coping with heat stress, and they were easier calving.” So, in 2006 the Dickinsons switched their whole herd to Jersey, sourcing 160 in-calf heifers, again from Denmark. “To be honest, Denmark was probably the only place that could have supplied this number of cattle which would calve between August and January,” Tom says, referring to the autumn block of the split herd, which calves in two three-month periods in spring and autumn. Breeder Tom says: “Dad set us off in the right direction and I have tried to carry it on. He is more of a breeder than me. I am more about performance.” Herd manager Richard Saxby, formerly from the Gold Cup-winning Ribblesdale herd of Jerseys, keeps him on the straight and narrow and Tom says: “Richard is a better stockman and cattle manager than me. “I look after the things that look after the milk contract including fat, protein and BB kappa-casein, and Richard looks after the type of cow we breed. “He makes sure the cows are functional and have good fertility and keeps a close eye on traits such as udder quality and feet. “The breeding information

Tom’s Jerseys come in for milking.

we get from VikingGenetics is far better than anything else we have ever had before,” Tom says, referring in particular to genetic indexes such as hoof health and udder health. “To be honest, I am not happy using the data from some other countries and I think they have quite different breeding objectives anyway. “I feel the Americans, for instance, are aiming for a brown version of the black-and-white cow. It’s all about breeding milky show cattle as opposed to functional, long-life, productive cattle which meet the requirements of our milk contract.” The success of the Thurlstone herd is measured not only in the milking parlour, but through vets’ bills and reports from the milk buyer. Tom says: “The dairy is telling us the cheese yield is going up and up,” alluding to the high overall protein and the BB kappa-casein which is increasing in the herd. “We don’t genotype yet, so we

don’t know what proportion of the herd is now BB kappa-casein, but we are choosing bulls which transmit this gene,” he says, citing VJ Hitman, VJ Quintana and VJ Zlager among their number. As for the vet, he says there has been little need to call one, with mastitis running at 20 cases per 100 cows per year, lameness not in evidence and a few cases of milk fever dealt with through a change in the dry cow ration. Pregnancy Fertility is unproblematic, with a 389-day calving interval and fewer than two services per pregnancy, using DIY artificial insemination and almost all sexed semen. Tom says: “They will get up to three chances with sexed, then they’ll be put to a beef bull – the Hereford sweeper or, more recently, they’ll be inseminated to Angus at the request of a local beef finisher supplying a premium outlet.” Antibiotic usage has been

monitored on behalf of the milk buyer who likes to keep it under surveillance among their suppliers. “We found we were far under the target,” says Tom. Successes at Manor Farm not only include the Lily Hill Cup for best Jersey herd in the Gold Cup competition in 2017, but also the Yorkshire Taste Award for best beverage and best liquid milk at the Yorkshire Show. “The Danish Jersey has played a big part in all of this,” says Tom. “She gives us the milk our buyer wants – and the health and fertility we want on-farm.” So how does he think she will help him fare when he reaches retirement at 65? Tom says: “I don’t intend to finish at 65. I just want the option to finish. The Danish Jersey is proving to have all the attributes we need to successfully run the business and is part of the process of getting me there.” ■ VikingGenetics will be on its stand to help with inquiries.

Jersey cross Hereford calves at Tom Dickinson’s farm.



***DF Sept p60 62 Dickinson.indd 4

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 11:21



Smoothing price volatility JYou are cordially invited

to join us for what we believe is a cracking line up of speakers who will tell us about their different ways of reducing the highs and lows of milk prices: New mandatory contract declaration – from next spring buyers will have a mandatory obligation to specify a price for an agreed duration, such as three months or more. How will this work? Michael Oakes, NFU Dairy Board chairman, explains all. Futures – how they work and what they will mean to the producer as leading companies such






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Insurance – a new scheme is being launched in November whereby you can insure against price falls. Too good to be true? Richard Counsell, managing director of insurance platform ‘Stable’

tells us about this new concept linked to Lloyds of London. ■ Join us at the Dairy Farmer/ Farmers Guardian stand at 11am – stand No162 near Edmund Rack building.

as Muller look set to increasingly offer this option. AHDB senior dairy analyst Patty Clayton tells us whether they will become a ‘must offering’ by all buyers in due course.





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63 17/08/2018 11:06

DAIRY SHOW OCT 3 Visitors to this year’s show will be able to learn about the latest thinking on the strategic use of maize varieties to minimise risk in forage production.

Mix of maize varieties can help take out risk


ith the cold and late spring followed by the summer drought, Grainseed will be taking a look at how to minimise the effects of such conditions on future maize production. The company’s Lucy SmithReeve says if you look over the last 10 years, maize has definitely been a more reliable forage than ensiled grass, with the consequence that the UK maize area is growing year-on-year within the dairy sector.

Option She says: “Modern ‘Bred for Britain’ ultra early varieties have been behind much of this growth, by making maize a viable and reliable option in a growing number of areas that were previously thought too low in heat units for the crop. “But many growers have realised the high-production potential of these varieties makes them perfect for using in warmer regions, where their high yields can be expressed to the full.” This has led the way to many maize producers thinking about how they can use a mix of varieties to underpin their production. So regardless of what the weather throws at them, they will have a sound base of production to rely on, she adds. “The challenge is to select a range of complementary varieties, so if one suffers due to unfavourable conditions the others will counteract the loss.”



***DF Sept P64 Maize Mix.indd 2

Start by using heat units and choose a strong variety maybe with a lower heat unit threshold than your average heat units suggest, but always making sure it is suited to the soil you have, advises Ms Smith-Reeve. “That way, you have a banker that you know will deliver in most circumstances. This should form 40-60% of your acreage. “If you’re in a good area, you can then add a variety that can make full use of the average available heat units, knowing you will have a good supply of energy from your primary crop.” If you are in the East, or an area with less than average rainfall, you should then add a drought-tolerant variety, she advises, adding: “If you’re in a marginal area, once you have established your primary crop choice you should then look to a slightly earlier variety as a secondary, or even consider growing a portion of your maize under plastic. “Plastic still has a lot to offer, and the gains in starch content and benefits of an earlier harvest will usually offset the additional cost of the film.” In practice, if you are in a marginal area with fairly heavy soil, then a group 11 variety, such as Picker, will do well in terms of delivering starch contents up to 35% with good energy yields. If you are on a difficult site, it is probably the one to think of first, she says. “You could then add Ardent if some of the other fields have slightly lighter soil, but still limited heat units, and if some

Lucy Smith-Reeve says maize has become an ever more viable option.

of these lighter soils were also on south-facing fields, you could consider the variety Lovely, which would add a bit more yield without compromising the starch content. “If you’re on good soils with over 1250 heat units, you can start to choose group 8 varieties, such as Bonnie, Bodyguard and Ballade, that will deliver higher yields as well as 30% starch content.

“In this situation, you could also add an earlier variety to complement these and provide higher starch content. In this way, if the heat units don’t live up to expectations, you’ve still got a good, high-yielding earlier variety to help make up the shortfall,” she says. n More information can be obtained from the Grainseed stand at the event.

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:11

OCT 3 DAIRY SHOW Mole Valley Farmers will be launching its new, own-brand, fresh cow rehydration drink at the Dairy Show. Vet Nick Barradale, of Molecare Vets, gives us the detail.

Liquid intake vital to calved cow well-being


aximising water intakes and restoring ‘hydration status’ should be high on the list of priorities when looking to boost dry matter intakes and get a cow firing on all cylinders post-calving. All farmers will recognise that a cow’s feed consumption drops substantially at and around calving, putting her at risk of extreme negative energy balance (NEB). Unless managed, this has the potential to put her on a slippery slope to developing metabolic and post-calving problems like milk fever, ketosis and retained foetal membranes. Vet Nick Barradale says water intakes also drop at the same time as appetites, which compounds the issue. He explains: “In the last 24 hours before calving, a cow will have very small and irregular

A cow goes into calving dehydrated and with low dry matter intakes Nick Barradale

drinking bouts, so she goes into calving dehydrated and with low dry matter intakes.” Water intakes are directly linked to feed intakes, so getting a cow to drink as much as possible post-calving is an essential component in preventing extreme NEB. Rumen capacity This should be combined with minimising the drop in dry matter intakes pre-calving by feeding high volumes of a low energy ration to build rumen capacity. Mr Barradale stresses that getting sufficient volume of water into a cow is essential for the ‘fluidity’ of the rumen and feed intakes. However, so too are the salt levels in what a cow drinks, and cows require such things as sodium and potassium to restore ‘hydration status’. Consequently, providing cattle with a specialist rehydra-

Nick Barradale

tion drink, such as Molecare Recover, will help cows ‘bounce back’ from reduced dry matter intakes. Drinks should include available calcium to prevent milk fever and aid muscle function. This is vital considering calcium requirements increase fivefold at calving. They should also have glucose

as a readily available energy source, plus vitamins and minerals, and Beta Carotene to help promote fertility status. Mr Barradale emphasises the importance of liquid uptake. He says: “You need to put the drink in front of a cow within half-an-hour to an hour of calving, or it is wasted. If you put it within reach, she will drink it every time.” n Visit the Mole Valley stand on Avenue B to find out more.

Start to plan your winter budget to stay in control

Mark Seager

JPreliminary figures from Old Mill’s Dairy Income Survey, which will be officially released at the Dairy Show, paint a strong picture to March 2018, but there is concern over the figures since then. The cost of forage and straw will have a big impact, says Mark Seager, rural services accountant at Old Mill. Producers are already culling harder than usual, resulting in lower cull cow prices. Some may sell store cattle or youngstock to focus on their dairy cows.

While milk production has dropped 1.2% (0.4 million litres per day) below the same time last year, the effect is likely to be even more significant next year. Milk prices are already increasing, albeit more slowly than expected. Control The best action ahead of this winter is to budget proactively, know your costs and focus on the factors within your control. “Request an overdraft now if you think you will need it, and budget for winter to manage

cashflow. Think about reducing numbers if you will not have the cash for forage or concentrates.” For farmers in a long-term healthy financial position with little need to invest in machinery, one option is to restructure into a limited company. “Corporation tax is decreasing, so becoming incorporated is a way to keep tax to a minimum and maximise profits for reinvestment.” n Old Mill will unveil its Dairy Income Survey at the Dairy Show. For information contact Mark Seager on 01749 335 037.

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept P65 Rehydration.indd 3


65 15/08/2018 16:12

DAIRY SHOW OCT 3 While yields will generally increase with more frequent milking, the extra output has got to be large


Move to three times-a-day m


he ongoing pressures to produce more income from limited assets has persuaded one dairy farming family to move to milking their 200-cow herd three times-a-day. But tenant farmers Guy and Jane Lewis, and their daughter Josephine, are already busy enough both on and off their Wiltshire holding. Guy works off the farm for local machinery dealer Lister Wilder, while Jane travels every week to South Wales to change over the family’s self-catering Maes-y-berllan unit which sleeps 12, as well as managing the farm day-to-day with Josephine. But to continue to improve the business profitability, consideration was given in 2015 to increasing milking to three times-a-day. The 25% increase in milk yield achieved (from 9600 to 12,000 litres/cow) has generated a Original 2x performance 2x milking Cows in-milk 200 Yield/day (litres) 27 Total sales/day 5,400 BF 4.00 Protein % 3.30 Milk price (ppl) 25.00 Milk sales/day (£) 1,350 Additional costs per milking (£) Labour 30 Liners 0.10 Water 0.10 Electricity 0.10 Marginal litres (pence) Feed 10 Quota 0.00

further 470,000 litres of milk and net margin of £172.20/day. All the milk is sold on contract to Cadbury Mondelez, and the extra revenue generated was more than sufficient to meet the additional costs. Labour With help and advice from their dairy consultant Mike Bray of

Kite, the major issues were addressed – principally how to meet the necessary labour demand arising from the change. Rather than looking to find additional full-time labour, the business developed a pool of available part-time labour which could be drawn on to undertake additional tasks without putting too much pressure on any one individual.

against current 3x 3x milking Response rate Cows in-milk Yield/day Milk output Additional litres per day BF % Protein % Milk price (ppl) Milk sales/day (£) Additional milk income day (£) Additional costs/day (£) Additional cost/litre (p) Additional quota per 30-day month Margins Net margin/day (£) Net margin/month (£)

This approach has proved to be very successful and the business now employs 12 part-time workers from the local area who are all familiar with the herd and its routines. Managing shifts does require careful planning, but Jane and Josephine are able to arrange this to ensure the staff get as many shifts as they want. The introduction of a 14/28

5% 200 28 5,670 270 4.00 3.30 25.00 1,418 67.50 57.30 21.22 8,100

15% 200 31 6,210 810 4.00 3.30 25.00 1,553 202.50 111.30 13.74 24,300

25% 200 34 6,750 1,350 4.00 3.30 25.00 1,688 337.50 165.30 12.24 40,500

10.20 306

91.20 2,736

172.20 5,166 Source: Kite Consulting



***DF Sept P66 67 3x milking.indd 2

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 16:13


OCT 3 DAIRY SHOW enough to cover the additional costs and justify the greater staffing organisation required.

y milking paying dividends Left to right: Jane, Guy and Josephine Lewis now milk three times-a-day.

swing over DeLaval parlour has increased the milking capacity beyond the 200 cows being

milked, and the business has increased the number of cubicles by 80 with a new shed. Funding for this has been secured with help from Paul Pickford, of Woolley and Wallis Finance, who placed this business with the AMC. Following a detailed review of the budgets, prepared by Mike, it was agreed the business could afford to repay the loan in full, but it was agreed a three-year interest only period at the outset, followed by nine years of repayments, would give the new system time to bed in before the capital commitments had to be met. While the agreed fixed rate deal is marginally more expensive than currently

available from variable rate loans, the partners felt the certainty of a fixed rate enabled them to plan future repayments from projected profits and afforded additional protection from future increases in the cost of borrowing. Replacements The business will source the additional cows necessary to fill the new building from within the herd as they have always reared their own replacements, and when the planning process for the new building was instigated additional heifers were kept back to ensure sufficient replacements would be available.

Since the business is in a highrisk TB area, the move to housing the cows all-year-round was both a logical step to meet the need of three times-a-day milking, and to improve biosecurity. An additional 80 cows will require in the region of 420 tonnes DM of fodder. The storage space for this additional silage is already available and the range of forage crops used ensures best use is made of it.

More information JWoolley and Wallis Finance will be available to answer financing questions at its Dairy Show stand.

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept P66 67 3x milking.indd 3


67 15/08/2018 16:13


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J We make no apology for allowing Arla Foods to bask in the headlines again this month, after the company followed its June and July milk price increases with a further lift to its on-account conventional milk price of one euro cent per kg for Aug’18. Not wishing to prejudice any milk buyer, but the last two Arla price increases are in contrast to the cooler dairy commodity markets experienced since June. This has caused much eyebrow raising by other milk buyers, ultimately forcing many to raise milk prices to levels greater than existing returns can furnish, and therefore this will send sales teams out into the market to hunt price increases from customers.

Challenge This is no bad thing and it is what should always be on the agenda, but it will certainly present a large challenge at a time when markets have successfully pushed back commodity prices from spring, which did not deliver the tight milk supplies that were predicted. The company reports the increase has been possible mainly due to the continued dry conditions which are having an impact on European milk production. That said, not all Arla’s price increase will have come from market returns, as recent business cost savings will no doubt

have played a part. Certainly dairy companies can use the dry weather and the potential threat to production as a lever on customers to increase prices. Admittedly, while commodity prices were starting to rise through August, the increases will need to continue and consolidate. Improving the chances of this happening would be for markets to see milk production pulling back, certainly greater than by the normal seasonal decline. Should this prove not to be the case and milk volumes remain robust, sustainability of milk price levels moving forward (assuming dairy companies are unsuccessful in raising prices to customers) will, at some point, start to become more questionable. Arla’s September euro cent increase when applied to our manufacturing standard litre* equates to a 0.88ppl uplift to 31.38ppl. This is now the company’s fourth price increase since Apr’18 and puts our manufacturing standard litre 0.38ppl above the company’s Jan’18 price, and 0.92ppl below the price paid for Dec’17. Our liquid standard* increases 0.85ppl to 30.16ppl, taking our liquid price for UK Arla Farmers Tesco to 31.58ppl, with Morrisons up to 31.14ppl and those on the retailer’s grazing premium up to 31.37ppl.

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 14:34

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

News in brief...

Dairy Crest offers 0.5ppl supplement J Because of dry weather, Dairy Crest has put in place a supplementary payment of 0.5ppl from September 1 to help its Davidstow farmers. The company reports that it is acutely aware of the challenges being faced by its farmers this summer and is pleased it can support them during this difficult period. However, following the 1.75ppl increase in the August milk price, the company believes the current market conditions do not warrant a further uplift in the milk price at this time, and will therefore hold its milk price for September.

Reviewed The supplement payment, which has been agreed with Dairy Crest Direct, will be reviewed moving forward on a monthly basis and, before it is included, our manufacturing standard litre for Sept’18

remains unchanged at 30.4ppl, with our liquid standard at 29.82ppl. Presumably, when or if the market releases new money, the company will at that stage roll the supplement into the milk price. If milk production is not greatly affected by the dry weather moving forward and rebuffs any potential increase, the company will have to decide whether to continue dipping into its own pocket to keep the supplement going. Some will argue producers do not care how the money is paid, as long as it is paid. We have to commend the company’s transparency and honesty over the issue. After all, we suspect many milk buyers are having to do exactly the same behind the scenes, disguising it in the milk price until increased returns from customers can be secured.

Muller’s benchmark

JHaving held its milk price unchanged for Aug’18, Muller has confirmed an increase of 1.5ppl from Sept’18. The

increase takes the liquid standard litre up to 29.5ppl – pretty much the benchmark to which others must aspire.

* Our Liquid standard litre is 4%b/f & 3.3% protein and our Manufacturing 4.2%b/f & 3.4% protein. In both cases with Bactoscans of 30,000/ml & SCCs of 200,000/ ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC (max vehicle accessibility) 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..

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p68 69 70 Milk.indd 3


69 16/08/2018 13:07

MILK PRICES Apr’18 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

May’18 4.0/3.3 Before Seas’lty

12mth Ave Jun’17 May’18

Diff May’18 v Apr’18

Latest Confirmed Milk Price

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

(i) 31.60 31.54 31.54 27.81 28.34 27.61 29.52 28.50 27.37 29.27 27.89 28.87 27.50 26.39 26.50 26.00 26.00 26.28 26.20 26.50 26.75 28.12 28.00 26.00 26.00 27.84 26.77

(ii) 31.60 30.92 30.84 27.81 28.34 27.61 29.84 27.50 27.37 29.59 27.89 27.99 27.50 26.39 26.50 26.00 26.00 26.28 26.20 26.00 26.75 28.12 28.00 26.00 26.00 27.72 26.67

(iii) 31.44 30.98 30.45 30.01 29.61 29.60 29.52 29.48 29.41 29.27 28.97 28.65 28.65 28.59 28.55 28.50 28.50 28.42 28.33 28.23 28.21 28.06 27.94 27.90 27.30 28.98 28.51

(i) v (ii) N/C -0.62 -0.70 N/C N/C N/C 0.32 -1.00 N/C 0.32 N/C -0.88 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.50 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.14 -0.11

(iv) 31.60 N/C N/C 31.58 N/C 31.37 30.17 30.00 31.14 29.92 N/C 28.88 29.00 30.16 29.50 29.50 29.50 28.79 29.00 29.50 29.50 28.48 28.36 28.95 28.00 29.66 29.28

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

28.38 28.87 28.62 29.00 27.43 29.03 28.01 27.70 27.00 27.25 27.43 26.88 25.32 27.76 27.71

28.38 28.87 28.62 28.00 27.43 27.53 28.01 27.70 27.00 27.25 27.43 26.88 25.32 27.57 27.50

30.28 30.23 30.09 29.90 29.74 29.61 29.61 29.60 29.13 29.10 29.03 28.96 27.96 29.48 29.41

N/C N/C N/C -1.00 N/C -1.50 N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C N/C -0.19 -0.21

30.45 30.68 30.18 30.40 31.38 30.53 30.61 29.95 30.30 29.50 30.03 28.95 29.19 30.17 30.14

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

28.60 25.17 20.94

33.12 29.46 19.91

31.98 28.38

4.52 4.29 -1.03

Latest milk prices from

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, balancing and A&B price schemes. Excludes annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement. Liquid price for milk containing 4% b/f and 3.3% protein. Manufacturing price for milk containing 4.2%/b/f and 3.4% prot. (i) Apr’18 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (ii) May’18 prices before seasonality or B pricing. (iii) Table ranked on simple rolling 12mth average of monthly prices from Jun’17 to May’18 before seasonality or B pricing. (i) v (ii) The difference May’18 prices compared with Apr’18. UK Arla Farmers price includes forecast 13th payment +0.83ppkg (+0.847ppl) for May’18 based on our liquid standard litre. UK Arla Farmers price includes forecast 13th payment +0.83ppkg (+0.847ppl) for May’18 based on our manufacturing standard litre. First Milk Haverfordwest Tesco Cheese Group includes 2ppl retailer premium averaging as 1.5ppl after taking the group seasonal milk profile into account. Fresh Milk Company price before Morrisons monthly cheese supplement +0.042ppl for May’18 (+0.043ppl for Apr’18). Müller Milk Group – Direct price quoted before Retail Supplements May +0.22ppl (Apr’18 +0.212ppl). ∞ Price includes 12mth rolling profile payment fixed at 1.15ppl. ‡ Price includes 12mth average rolling profile fixed at 0.57ppl. *UK Milk Futures Equivalent (UKMFE) net to producer includes 5% processor margin and allowing 2ppl ex-farm haulage + milk testing. **Average delivered spot milk price net to producer allows an average 2.5ppl covering haulage from farm to customer + milk testing/admin and margin. (iv) Latest confirmed milk price (before seasonality or B pricing) at the time of going to press. N/C in this context means no change made aware since May’18. UK Arla Farmers 0.85ppl increase from Aug’18 includes forecast 13th payment +0.83ppkg (+0.847ppl) based on liquid std litre. UK Arla Farmers 0.88ppl increase from Aug’18 includes forecast 13th payment +0.873ppkg (+0.89ppl) based on manufacturing std litre. Müller Milk Group Direct price quoted before Retail Supplements. Fresh Milk Company price increase of 1ppl (based on 4%b/f) from Aug’18 is 1ppl above the minimum guaranteed price to the end of Sept’18. Dairy Crest – Davidstow introduced 0.5ppl dry weather supplement from Sept’18. All prices (excluding First Milk Haverfordwest Tesco at 1.50ppl) are before monthly retail supplements. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:



***DF Sept p68 69 70 Milk.indd 4

SEPTEMBER 2018 16/08/2018 13:08



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SEPTEMBER 2018 DF_09_P71.indd 3


Innovative Solutions & Dairy Service


71 17/08/2018 11:20


NEW products

This month, we feature updates to the Horizon operating system, take a look at McCormick’s new three-tractor range and examine Kuhn’s latest stubble cultivators.

Updates to Horizon operating system

Argo Tractors has kept the roof panel slim and the height of the tractors as low as possible.

JTopcon Agriculture has added auto-steer functions ‘Auto Turn’ and ‘Steer to Boundary’ in version 4.02 of its Horizon operating system for the Topcon X25 and X35 guidance and implement control consoles. It enables tractors, sprayers and combines fitted with a Topcon auto-steer system to make fully automated turns at headlands using alternating, infill and single direction patterns. The ‘Steer to Boundary’ function automatically steers the vehicle along a pre-recorded boundary, using the implement’s width settings to ensure complete coverage. Beneficial when working on recently drilled land where there might not be any visual references, it can also reduce driver fatigue. Both systems have the potential to reduce soil compaction on headlands as they maintain precise repeatable wheel placement for each operation. ‘Steer to Boundary’ is a standard feature within Horizon 4.02, while ‘Auto Turn’ is available as a one-off cost of £875. The software upgrade also enables Topcon’s XTEND function, which allows operators to use their smartphone or tablet as a wireless extension of their console, to be used on the X25 (XTEND is already available on the X35). n Details on 01480 496 367, or

New models added to McCormick range



***DF Sept p72 73 New Products.indd 2


new three-model mid-range line of McCormick tractors with 110hp to 126hp outputs are a step up from McCormick X50 and X5 and competitor tractors of similar size and power. The X6.55’s compact Deutz four-cylinder engine developing 126hp has already proved itself as a reliable, high-torque and fuelefficient engine in McCormick X4 tractors with 90-107hp outputs. The 3.6-litre engine is now tuned

for 110hp, 119hp and 126hp, with exhaust gas after-treatment equipment installed to meet the latest ‘green’ emissions rules. A smooth-acting power shuttle can be adjusted for field headland turns and repetitive loader work. The regular transmission has 36 forward speeds, including three powershift steps for fingertip shifts under load, and creep gears can be added for ultra-slow speeds. A simple 12x12 transmission with optional creep is also available. With a six-tonne rear linkage and

optional 2.25t front linkage and pto, the new X6.5 trio can run front or rear-mounted equipment, or both at the same time. Manufacturer Argo Tractors has kept the roof panel slim and the overall height of the tractor as low as possible without impacting on headroom. Cab suspension, an air suspension seat and a high-spec sound system with Bluetooth wireless connection are all available. n Details on 01302 757 550, or

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:16


2148 Ly


Boost to parlour hygiene durability. They can be retro-fitted into any parlour, mounted onto the pit wall or stall. Nozzles can be used on liners with a 20-23mm mouthpiece. Vaccar Variflo jetter trays each cost £99 plus VAT, and are currently available half-price when purchased with Vaccar Soffi milking clusters. ■ Details on 01948 667 676, or

JVaccar Variflo jetter trays enable the quick and easy connection of clusters for washing post-milking. Designed to be sited below the milking platform, they allow the operator a clear view of the four jetter nozzles so teat cups can be easily positioned prior to washing. Each unit has a variable flow non-return valve, which helps provide a balanced washing along the length of the parlour, and is especially useful in jar parlours. Flow rates of up to eight litres per minute can be achieved. Jetter trays are manufactured from impact-resistant modern plastics for optimum hygiene and


Kuhn stubble cultivators JTwo mounted versions of Kuhn Farm Machinery’s Optimer stubble cultivator can be used with lower power tractors. A compact design, the Optimer XL 300 three-metre version is suitable for 105-165hp tractors, while the Optimer XL 400 4m requires 140-220hp. Both new Optimer XL 100-series machines feature two rows of independent discs followed by a roller

bar, which can be equipped with a variety of Kuhn press wheels. Large diameter (620mm) notched discs of 6mm thick steel are capable of working at depths of 50-150mm, and the depth can be adjusted manually or hydraulically as an option. This enables high volumes of trash and crop residue to be dealt with easily and efficiently. ■ Details on 01952 239 300, or

New products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. Please send details and pictures to Hannah Park at, or call 01772 799 450.


Take the capability of your tractor into new territory with Lynx. Our accessories can equip any make or model for virtually any challenge.


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More ways to add more productivity

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WORKSHOP tips with Mike Donovan This month, Mike Donovan explains how we can make our own feeding troughs.

Home-made folding feed troughs


alk to Co Monaghan farmer Sean Prunty about his mobile feed trough and you realise it is even better ding than it looks. ers senget m r a f on e The design rI realyt tips, so pleaikse@ works so well he gre it h, at m in touc, or vis has made two s a e k u id . farm of them, one for farmide feeding meal to 20 in-calf heifers and the other does 25 calves aged six to 12 months old. As well as feeding, the The 25ft-long troughs have proved a low cost idea and are easily moved with the fitted drawbar. troughs make it easy to move was made in 2014 from steel attitude decided to play rough cattle. Hitch up and the cattle lift the barrels off the ground which was around the place. and tip the trough over. So now follow. They do this much betand stops cattle getting their Most is 1.5in angle and some they’re bolted in and the bull ter than when he had standard feet in. The rear end frame has troughs which had to be moved 2in box sections. The angle has gone for burgers. an axle fitted with 8in rim imwith a trailer. holds the barrel halves in place, plement tyres, and at the other Safety The initial four-section one or it did until a young bull with there is a drawbar. Sean has a 65-cow registered The green barrels on the Holstein herd with a 9000 litre fold-up extensions have similar average. The farm is all grass frames which are hinged at the and he breeds from artificial top. The drawbar is covered insemination without a bull on when the trough is folded out the place. This is as much for and the wheels are in the middle. safety’s sake, especially with two young children at home. About Mike With this feeder he can travel to the field with the bags of feed r Mike is a machinery and move the troughs all in one columnist offering tips on operation using his ATV. Howbuilding or modifying farm equipment. Sign up for ever, the closed length is 12ft his free newsletter at 6ins, and this means swinging out to get through gateways. Folded for moving, but it may mean swinging out at gateways. The steel frame has legs which



***DF Sept p74 Donovan.indd 2


SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:18

Win a game-changing investment to transform your business Entries for the new-look Agri-Innovation Den competition are now open, with a new headline sponsor and venue part of the changes for 2018.

Why you should enter ● Multi-million-pound investment fund and an opportunity to transform your business ● Guaranteed media package worth £6,000 to all finalists ● Expert business advice ● Increased awareness of your business and brands ● Straightforward application process


● Opportunity to make invaluable business contacts

gri-Innovation Den is the perfect platform for fledgling businesses ripe for investment and looking to accelerate growth. Launched by Farmers Guardian’s parent company AgriBriefing in 2015, the competition invites agricultural entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to our panel of industry judges and potential investors. Six overall finalists will each win a unique agri-marketing and business advice package worth more than £6,000, plus a chance

to access a multi-million-pound funding pot. FG editor Ben Briggs says: “The speed of technological advancement is changing the face of agriculture and giving rise to a new generation of agri-tech businesses and entrepreneurs. “Agri-Innovation Den recognises the potential these businesses have to help drive the industry forward and strives to help them reach their potential.” For the first time, the competition is being sponsored by BASF, and the company’s head of customer strategy Ben Miles

Competition timeline September 14: Entries close October 15: Telephone interviews for shortlist October 26: Finalists announced November 15-16: Finalists invited to Farm491 for two-day business bootcamp December 4: Pitch day to our panel of five industry experts and investors

says the business is delighted to be on-board. Mr Miles says: “For our business, innovation is at the core of everything we do. “Whether it is developing novel crop protection solutions to help meet farmers’ challenges, or developing digital agriculture solutions which help farmers target inputs more effectively, it is really critical innovation continues to drive agriculture. “What we hope to see in the 2018 competition is lots of innovation which will help drive sustainable agricultural productivity.”

AgriBriefing is also thrilled to announce agri-innovation centre Farm491 will be supporting the competition and will be hosting the judging day on December 4 at its brand new purpose-built premises in Cirencester. Farm491 programme manager Dr Ali Hadavizadeh says: “Farm491 is super excited to be co-hosting the competition. It really complements our main activities, which are to engage with agri-tech start-ups and try to get them investor ready, while putting them on a safe footing to make them sustainable, strong businesses for the future.”

For more information, visit **DF Aug IBC AgDen (signed off).indd 3

17/08/2018 10:12


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77 16/08/2018 08:52




It makes you think about all those water pipe leaks This month, Roger Evans tell us about how thankful he was to get mains water connected to his farm originally, but is now casually wondering what could have caused the many leaks he has suffered since.



***DF Sept p78 79 Evans.indd 2


t wasn’t until we moved in here, all those years ago, that we found out just how precarious our water supplies were. There were three sources of water here. Topping the list for cleanliness was a large well in the garden. This was by far the best water to drink and the only one I was ever likely to get a pass for if I was going into milk production. It had very limited output and it struggled to pass the tests imposed by the Ministry, so I helped it along a bit by putting a bucket of hypochlorite in the well one night. I don’t feel any guilt about this as I can smell chlorine in our mains water today. The next supply came about a mile down a galvanised pipe from a spring in a wood. Basically, this was an open tank that held about 20 gallons. This fed three cottages along its way to a large underground tank in the yard, where it was supposed to feed cattle troughs in winter (people who lived in cottages came in the same social groups as cattle in the past). This long pipe was blocked on a regular basis by leaves and dead frogs. The third source of water was rainwater. All the rainwater was collected and fed into this large underground tank as well. This collection of rainwater is very trendy today. They call it water harvesting and will give you grants to collect it. I keep telling you there is nothing new in life.

I previously used the word ‘precarious’ to describe all this, and none of it worked very well. Most summers we had churns of water in the kitchen and bathroom, and in the dairy to wash the milk pipeline out. We carried water from a river to wash our parlour out in our slurry tanker, which we also used to top up the underground tank in a dry spell in winter. Our first slurry tanker (which I still have) carried more water than ever it did the other stuff. Mains water All that is why the day we went on to mains water is such an important day in my farming career, and I remember saying I would never mind paying the water bill. And I didn’t mind. Well, I didn’t mind for several years, not until we had our first leak. Mains water leaks have two problems, and they are linked. They can be very expensive and they can be very difficult to find. In fact you don’t always know you have a leak until the big bill turns up. Our first serious leak was under the concrete in the milking parlour, but we couldn’t find it for weeks until eventually the water came out by our kitchen door, which was 30 yards away. The water bill was about £10,000. The water supplier helped out with half of that, but it would only help just the once. I worry about water leaks as they can literally be money down the drain. I can’t help thinking

SEPTEMBER 2018 15/08/2018 14:19


We can’t find any damp patches, but our water bills have gone sky high

that with all this technology, it should be possible to have some sort of digital read out available every day. It would be so much easier to monitor than having to peer down a manhole at a meter. All this leads me to the pub – it usually does. I find myself sitting next to a man who worked all his life for a water authority. Water, or the lack of it, is a major topic at present. If it’s still a major topic by the time you read this, then heaven help us. I tell him that I have seen a feature on the TV news where officials were out looking for leaks on major pipelines using a sophisticated listening device. I ask him how it works. I’m interested because we think we may have a leak at present. We can’t find any damp patches, but our water bills have gone sky high. It’s very difficult to tell with the cows drinking so much at present since the stream was fenced off to stop the cows eroding the banks (not that there is a stream there, it went dry long ago).

Anyhow, the man tells me that these devices identify subtle changes in the noise the water makes as it travels down say a 10-inch pipe, and if they can identify a change then they have probably identified a leak. “Of course we had a much better way in the past. We just increased the pressure on a suspect main until it blew, saved a lot of digging.” I have to think about this for a moment and then the implications cascade. “But if you increased the pressure on your main in order to blow it, isn’t it also possible that you caused leaks in the pipes of your farmer customers?” “Yes, but if a customer happened to have a leak at the same time, we would pay for the water they lost.” Time for some more thinking. “But how would the customer know you had increased the pressure and thus caused their leak? It might take weeks for the leak to be apparent or a month before a big bill turned up?” “They wouldn’t,” he smiled.

SEPTEMBER 2018 ***DF Sept p78 79 Evans.indd 3


79 15/08/2018 14:19

FINANCE Without clearly defined and written intentions, farm succession can embroil siblings in a bitter dispute which can tear the family apart. Iain McVicar, of Albert Goodman, recounts one recent case.

‘One day this will all be yours’

Lucy claimed that she had been promised the farm when her father could not farm any more


t appears there is a fashion trend to legal cases. There was a legal case in 2016, dubbed ‘the cowshed Cinderella’ where Eirian Davies won compensation after being promised the farm. Since this well publicised case, there have been many similar cases going to court. One which I was involved with this year was Habberfield versus Habberfield, and with the case now decided, all the following facts are in the public domain. The background to this case was that Lucy Habberfield, one of four children of Frank and Jane Habberfield, claimed that she was entitled to the whole or part of the dairy farm. Lucy’s claim was on the basis that she had devoted her working life to the farm because her late father assured her that she would eventually take it over when he retired. Lucy had left school in 1983 age 16 and had gone home to work on the farm. A dairy herd was re-established on the holding because Lucy was interested in this enterprise. Lucy then worked on the farm full-time from 1983 until 2013 when she fell out with another family member. When Lucy’s father died in 2014 the farm passed to her mother.

Expert opinion rThe claimant must have suffered some form of detriment or harm as a consequence of relying on the promise.



***DF Sept p80 Finance.indd 2

Lucy did not inherit anything. Lucy claimed she had been promised the farm when her father could not farm any more, and went to court to prove her claim. For a claim such as Lucy’s to succeed, there must be three conditions which are satisfied, as follows: That one party made a promise to the other. That the promise was relied upon. That the individual acted to their own detriment. Firstly, there must have been a promise made to Lucy. In this instance the judge found statements were made to Lucy by her father where he promised the farming business would be Lucy’s one day. He also found that the promise of the farming business did not specifically mention the farmland, but that in his view the intention was that they both went together. Therefore, the farmland was part of the promise. Secondly, Lucy must have relied on the promise. Lucy worked on the farm for 30 years, and believed the promise. She took it seriously and worked hard on the farm for many years, so relying on the promise. Finally, the claimant must have suffered some form of detriment or harm as a consequence of relying on the promise. It was at this point that I became involved. The role of an expert witness is to provide opinions and analysis which will help the court reach its decision. I was appointed a joint expert by Lucy and her mother Jane, with the aim of providing expert evidence. In this case, the main method of determining whether Lucy acted to her own loss was decided by examining the level of drawings that Lucy received from the business. This was compared to the wages that Lucy

1 2 3

would have been paid at open market value. If Lucy’s actual earnings were lower than the open market wage, then Lucy had suffered a loss. My role was to calculate the pay that Lucy would have received from 1983 until 2013. This was a long process as it covered a period of 30 years. It included spending time getting acquainted with the old Agricultural Wages Orders, then making judgements with regard to the type of work undertaken and the wages that would be paid for that work. The judge concluded that Lucy suffered a total loss of £220,000 and also worked long hours with few holidays. Therefore, she did act to her own detriment. Due to this the judge found in favour of Lucy. He then decided that suitable recompense was that Lucy be paid a sum of £1.17 million, which was the value of the dairy farm (excluding the farmhouse). These cases all make for sad reading as families are ripped apart by the dispute, probably long before lawyers become involved. However, some lessons can be learned. If you are going to promise something, such as a business or share of a business, to a family member, do not do this casually. If you mean to pass across something as significant as the farming business, or a share of it, this should be well considered, and preferably done in writing. The process of writing these things down can clarify thinking and is a sensible practice. Dealing with many farms, it is rare to see family members paid a normal wage. Therefore, in these cases it seems relatively easy to prove detriment. Should family workers be paid a proper farmworkers wage? As with all family businesses, communication and fairness are a big part of avoiding disputes.

SEPTEMBER 2018 17/08/2018 13:12

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AS PREDICTED Mucosal surfaces provide the largest interface between the body and the environment and are a primary route of entry for infectious agents1. Now you can release the full power of mucosal immunity in young calves with this easy-to-use intranasal vaccine. Bovalto Respi Intranasal can be used in all calves from 10 days of age – regardless of breed or production system.

1. Griebel (2009) Expert Rev. Vaccines 8(1): 1-3 Bovalto Respi Intranasal, nasal spray, lyophilisate and solvent for suspension contains Bovine parainfluenza 3 virus (PI3V), modified live virus, strain Bio 23/A 105.0 – 107.5 TCID50 and Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), modified live virus, strain Bio 24/A 104.0 – 106.0 TCID50. UK: POM-V IE: POM (E). Further information available in the SPC or from Merial Animal Health Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. UK Tel: 01344 746960 (sales) or 01344 746957 (technical), IE Tel: 01 291 3985 (all queries). Bovalto and the steerhead logo are registered trademarks of Merial. ©2018 Merial Animal Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group of Companies. Date of preparation: Aug 2018. AHD11263. Use Medicines Responsibly.






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