The Ulster Grassland Society (UGS) recently hosted a very successful visit to the Newry farm of the Malcomson family (Kenny, Sheila and Geoffrey).
Their Ringclare Holstein herd is currently averaging 8,300 litres at 3.90% butterfat and 3.25% protein. The farm is also home to the renowned Ringclare flock of pedigree Charollais sheep.
“One of the key facets of the dairying enterprise is the tremendous levels of performance achieved from forage,” said UGS president David Johnston, who attended the event.
“The latest benchmarking figures confirm that the herd is currently averaging 4,100 litres of milk from grazed grass and silage with 1.9t of concentrates fed per cow.”
Geoffrey Malcomson explained that the production of quality forage, both as grazed grass and silage, is the core driver for the business as a whole.
“We are on pretty free draining ground, which allows us to graze the cows from the beginning of April through to the end of September in even the wettest of years. Three cuts of silage are taken annually. Every effort is made to ensure that the cutting dates coincide with the swards’ optimal stages of growth.
“We re-seed between 10 and 15% of the grassland area annually. Soil testing is regularly carried out for accurate application of fertilisers with lime applied, as necessary.”
The Ringclare herd is split into autumn (75%) and spring calving groups.
AI is used extensively to produce heifer replacements. The current herd calving interval is 366 days.