CAFRE’S Dairying Development Advisers have hosted a feed, fertility and finance training event to help local farmers to maximize their margins during the current dairy crisis.
During the event at Thomson and Hugh Harbison’s farm in Aghadowey, presentations by Alan Agnew, Zara Morrison and David Mackey highlighted the importance of feed efficiency to help maintain margins and provided farmers with information on financial planning.
This was one of a number of recent events being hosted in light of the current crisis within the dairy industry.
Thomson and Hugh Harbison maintain a tight calving pattern in the herd of 150 cows and replacements.
The herd calves from September to early December with 100 cows and heifers regularly calved in the month of September.
The tight calving pattern enables the herd to be managed as one group. The herd is currently averaging 31 litres on a simple flat rate feeding system.
Two different 1st cut silage are being mixed to achieve the desired Dry Matter Intake and these are being fed along with straw and concentrates.
The cost of the concentrate ration is only 5.9ppl thereby maintaining excellent margin over concentrates.
Fertility management is fundamental within the Harbison herd.
AI is used on all cows and heifers commencing on the 3rd December each year with heats being recorded from 3rd November.
For the first four weeks of AI British Friesian and New Zealand Friesian straws are used on the cows and Holstein on the heifers. After four weeks Aberdeen Angus is used.
All AI is completed eight hours after cows being seen on heat.
Anything that hasn’t shown in heat within three weeks is treated by the vet.
After six weeks cows are PD’d and this takes place on a weekly basis. All AI is ceased by the middle of March and barren cows are culled.
Conception rate last year was heifers 85%, cows 57% to first service.
Dry cows are also managed as one group with most calving at grass.
Three weeks before calving they are fed dry cow nuts and big bale silage at night. The baled silage is produced specifically for the dry cows.
It is left to grow longer and only nitrogen fertiliser is applied, no slurry. They are fed at night to encourage day time calving.
Financial matters were at the fore of the discussion and farmers were encouraged to complete a cash flow forecast to help indicate where income may not cover costs.
This will provide an indication of finance requirements over the next 12 months. A Cash flow template is available on www.dardni.gov.uk/online-services under CAFRE Business Tools.
For further information contact your local Dairying Development Adviser.