Rumen function drives cow performance

Chatting on the McClure farm earlier this week - Fergal McAdam, Alltech; Richard McClure and Andrew Morrison, United Feeds
Chatting on the McClure farm earlier this week - Fergal McAdam, Alltech; Richard McClure and Andrew Morrison, United Feeds

Despite the challenge of a poor enough first cut silage crop in 2014, Richard McClure, from Coleraine-based McClure Farms, is quick to confirm that all of the cows in the family’s 170-strong dairy herd are milking tremendously well at the present time.

“The annual herd production average is 8,200 litres per cow at 4% butterfat and 3.25% protein,” Richard said.

“Our cows calve between September and the end of March. Daily output at the present time is averaging 30.5 litres, a figure which I am extremely happy with.

“Looking ahead, our aim is to increase output per cow in tandem with milk solids.”

Richard recognises that he will require good professional advice if these targets are to be achieved. To this end, he works closely with his United Feeds’ technical sales adviser, Andrew Morrison. A recent visitor to the McClure farm, Andrew pointed out that the feeding regime for the cows is assessed regularly.

“Richard is currently feeding a TMR giving 25 litres of milk per day, which is topped up in parlour with nuts according to yield,” he said.

“But it’s not all about milk output. Care is taken to ensure that the health of the cows is catered for at all times and of course, this has a direct bearing on fertility.”

Richard McClure is mindful that the production of cud balls by the cows had previously been an important management issue on the farm.

“It was obvious that the animals’ rumens were not working properly and we asked the team at United Feeds to come up with a solution to the problem,” he said.

Andrew Morrison’s response was to review every aspect of the rations fed to the cows and, specifically, to recommend the inclusion of YEA-SACC ® in both the blend and the nuts offered to the stock.

“YEA-SACC, manufactured by Alltech ®, is a very effective form of yeast, which acts to normalise rumen function. This, in turn, drives performance by maximising milk input from every kilo of ration fed,” he explained.

Andrew also proposed the inclusion of United’s Herdcare mineral package in the blend used in the TMR, plus SEL-PLEX ® organic form of Selenium from Alltech.

“This approach ensures that all of the minerals are offered in the organic BIOPLEX ® form. This is the most bioactive form in which they can be fed to animals. These amendments to the ration formulation have worked. Cud balls are no longer an issue and the cows are performing extremely well at the present time.”

Alltech’s regional sales manager Fergal McAdam accompanied Andrew to the McClure farm.

“We have been working with United Feeds for a number of years, helping to deliver the nutritional solutions which meet the specific requirement of the company’s farmer customers,” he said.

“All of our products have been developed by working in tandem with producers, identifying their needs and responding accordingly. In addition we have carried out extensive, independent trials with all of our products across the various countries in which they are used.

“This, in turn, gives farmers the confidence they require as they strive to improve the performance of their stock.”