Aiming to breed and feed better

Basil Bailey, left, of Thompsons with  the Jamieson family, Blair, Gillian and five year old Jordi on their farm outside Broughshane, Co Antrim  close to Slemish Mt.
Basil Bailey, left, of Thompsons with the Jamieson family, Blair, Gillian and five year old Jordi on their farm outside Broughshane, Co Antrim close to Slemish Mt.

Back in 1999 an uncle of Blair Jamieson asked did he fancy taking over the dairy enterprise on their family farm near Broughshane, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland. If not the herd would be dispersed.

“Uncle George was aiming to take life a wee mite easier and though happily busy in the construction industry I jumped at the opportunity,” Blair explained.

Twenty years later Blair has a highly productive herd of 65 high performance Holsteins milked through an eight point swing over parlour to supply Dale Farm, the largest farmer owned processor in the UK.

“The aim was never to have a massive herd, possibly with massive borrowings. The aim from the start has been continuous improvement of each and every cow in the herd. Medium sized cows of good type that hold their flesh. Milkers with good feet that produce quality milk at maximum profit to us.

“To me heifers coming into the herd hopefully are better than the cows they replace. Until four years ago we used a bull as well as AI, but fitting pedometers allowed us to switch entirely to AI, thus gaining access to the most suitable bull for every individual cow with straws sourced from Genus or AI Services.”

Blair added that breeding the best was only one leg of the drive to a better bottom line. Feeding meant making the best of silage and working closely with Basil Bailey and team at Thompsons Feeding Innovation.

Keeping a close eye on the soil profile to ensure lime and fertiliser was applied as and when needed was, as ever, the basis of good farm management. Similar emphasis being placed on reseeding.

“All our first cut silage made in May is fed to the milking herd with second cut kept for dry cows and young stock. To maximise quality Ecosyl from Volac has been used this past decade with great success. Those two days working at silage literally can seal our success for the year to come. Cutting early, avoiding contamination, sealing fast and using the additive most proven in independent trials is key to milking profitably.”

In this past 12 months the 65 strong herd has supplied 667,913 litres to Dale Farm with a further 10,000 litres fed to wee calves. Butterfat is around 4.4% with protein 3.31% and 30 to 35 heifers join the herd each year. Any surplus milkers find a ready market through the local mart.

Compound feed is offered to yield through out of parlour feeders with flat rate feeding in parlour, Blair making use of the latest computer technology.

The herd is housed every night during grazing with the attention to detail by the Jamieson family obvious in the quality of livestock and the tidiness of their farm below Slemish Mountain.

Keeping things looking their best is a family trait. His wife Gillian keeps the ladies of Broughshane in the pink of condition at her beauty saloon, Exclusive Beauty, on main street!

Looking ahead Blair sees Ecosyl as a key part of the plan to maximise performance.

“Over 200 independent trials and our own experience over 10 years show that Ecosyl is the reliable, simple to apply additive.

“It gives rapid pH fall, super efficient fermentation with a stable silo face, cuts losses and produces higher nutritive value silage.

“Silage that has higher digestibility, improved palatability and hence intake thus boosting profitable cow performance.”

For further details of Ecosyl contact NI distributors Thompsons Feeding Innovation tel; (028) 9035 1321 or browse