William and Andrew McCollum manage the 300-cow herd of Ballycairn Holsteins and replacement heifers at their farm just outside Coleraine.
William initially founded the herd in the early 1970’s. The objective set for the business is that of delivering on performance and profitability with heifers being selected for high production potential of milk, fat and protein.
Breeding policy in the herd is now firmly focussed on a balance of improving health and fitness traits, together with good functional udders, legs and feet, alongside milk, fat and protein. The quality of the Ballycairn Herd and the excellent results achieved are testimony to the success of the breeding policy.
“We have always recognised the need to ensure that the cows have a sure footing, particularly in the collecting areas and at specific locations in the cubicle house,” Andrew commented.
“And with this in mind, we invested in Surefoot™ slats, manufactured by Moore Concrete back in 2014.
“And we are delighted with the results. Slippages are now at an absolute minimum. Thus means less injuries and cows that are more comfortable in their environment. This factor, alone, will help improve dry matter intakes, milk output and all aspects of fertility-related performance.”
Research has shown that the nature of the floor surface will affect the degree of sure-footedness that an animal feels when either standing or walking on slats. This challenge has always been recognised by Moore Concrete: hence the development of the company’s Surefoot™ slat design! The system represents the first branded slat range to be registered in the UK and Ireland.
“The slats are proving exceptionally popular with dairy and other livestock farmers throughout the UK,” Moore’s Jeff Haslett confirmed.
Jeff was a recent visitor to the farm. The new system has been independently trialled with the results confirming the wherewithal of the slats to offer a significantly enhanced slip resistant surface for livestock. This work was carried out by veterinarian Owen Atkinson, the man who heads up the Cheshire-based Dairy Veterinary Consultancy.
According to Jeff, Surefoot™ slats provide 50% more grip, when compared to standard slat surfaces.
He added: “The use of the new slat range will lead to a significant reduction in slip related injuries. In addition the Surefoot™ surface will provide cows with more confidence to exhibit their natural behaviours.
“As a result, feed intakes will increase and bulling behaviour will become more noticeable. In robotic scenarios the use of Surefoot™ slats will help encourage additional visits to the milking unit. That means more milk and higher profit margins per cow.”
For further information, telephone Moore Concrete on (028) 2565 2566.