DARD Management Notes: Dairying

If you have exported slurry in 2015 submit your records to NIEA before 31st January 2016
If you have exported slurry in 2015 submit your records to NIEA before 31st January 2016

Slurry and manure import and export records: An important change to the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) which came into force in 2015 requires you to submit records of exports of all organic manures to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) by 31 January for the previous calendar year.

This means that records of all slurry exported during 2015 must be submitted to NIEA by 31 January 2016. If you do not submit your records on time, the information cannot be taken into account when calculating the livestock manure nitrogen loading on your farm.

Further information, a sample record sheet, details of how to submit organic manure export records, together with information on exporting manure to The Republic of Ireland, can be found in the ‘Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) 2015-2018 and Phosphorus Regulations Guidance’ booklet.

The publication is also available on the DARD website (https://www.dardni.gov.uk/publications/2015-2018-nitrates-action-programme-and-phosphorus-regulations-and-associated-documents) and the NIEA website (https://www.doeni.gov.uk/publications/nitrates-action-programme-2015-2018-and-phosphorus-regulations-guidance-booklet).

Changes to the N and P content of manures

Another change in the NAP, also effective from 1 January 2015, is the revision of some nutrient values. These include the nitrogen and phosphorus contents of cattle and pig slurry, as well as some types of farmyard and poultry manure. The nitrogen content of cattle slurry is now 2.6 kg per cubic metre. Previous figures were 3.0 kg nitrogen per cubic metre for dairy cattle slurry and 2.3 kg per cubic metre for beef cattle slurry.

As the N content of dairy cattle slurry is now less this means you need to export a higher volume of slurry to achieve a N loading under the limit of 170 kg N per hectare, assuming livestock numbers and land area are similar to previous years.

If you rely on manure exports to stay under the maximum livestock manure nitrogen loading limit of 170 kg per hectare, the advice is to recalculate the nitrogen loading for your farm and determine the quantity of slurry/manure that needs to be exported.

Getting the cow back in calf!

Breeding is well underway. All cows six weeks calved should have displayed a heat and are past their ‘voluntary waiting period’. Cows seen to have been in heat after this should be bred and a record of the service made on farm software. Assess your breeding efficiency by working out the submission rate for the last three weeks. That is, how many cows, that completed their ‘voluntary waiting period’ three weeks ago, are served? This answers the question, how many cows did I serve that were eligible to be served in the last 21 days - which should be all of them! If not, there is a problem with heat detection on the farm.

Tackling digital dermatitis

Routine foot bathing after four consecutive milkings each week is the most practical way to control digital dermatitis. Without regular foot bathing the incidence of digital dermatitis will increase weekly during the winter. Ideally use a double foot bath to wash and treat feet. The wash bath is needed to remove dung that reduces the effectiveness of the chemical in the treatment bath. If you do not have enough space to fit in two baths, hose wash the feet of cows before they leave the parlour. As cows need to take at least three strides through the treatment bath it should be 3 m long and filled to a depth of 10 cm.  

Typical January performance

How does your farm compare with the typical performance from the Co Armagh farms I work with:

Average daily milk yield 23.5 litres per cow Average daily concentrate fed 8 kilos per cow Average daily milk from forage 5.7 litres per cow Average daily concentrate feed rate 0.34 kilos per litre

Feed efficiency is critical; target concentrate feeding to those cows that need it most.

If you require information on any of these topics, contact your local CAFRE Dairying Development Adviser.