Farm walk will profile latest thinking on dry cow management

left to right  Mark Johnston, Aaron Haffey,Michael Copeland
left to right Mark Johnston, Aaron Haffey,Michael Copeland

The Kilvergan Holstein herd of Stephen Haffey and Sons will host a farm walk on Wednesday, September 5th.

Hosted in association with Mason’s Animal Feeds, the event will focus on the best management and feeding strategies that can be followed to ensure that the needs of pre-calving cows are met in full.

A tour of the farm yard area will be included in the itinerary of the farm walk.

The event will also include presentations by veterinarian and nutritionist, Dr Neil Michael of Arm and Hammer Animal Nutrition, New Jersey, USA and the Mason’s advisory team, relating to the nutritional programmes followed on the farm and discuss the specific health-related challenges that can impact on pre calving cows.

Colin Purdy, from Mason’s Animal Feeds is delighted that Dr Neil Michael DMV, whose extensive background in the dairy industry, both as a veterinarian, dairy nutritionist and in Transition Health is visiting on the day.

Dr Neil Michael will profile the benefit of feeding Bio-Chlor Down Calver Nuts, manufactured by Mason’s Animal Feeds, as a way of ensuring that cows calve down without problems and are ready to produce milk in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Stephen Haffey and Sons milk 330 cows, averaging 10,000l.

This figure has increased over the past 12 months. His cows are calving from August through to May.

Stephen has been feeding Bio-Chlor nuts to his pre calvers for the past two years.

“The use of Bio-Chlor has significantly reduced transitional problems,” he confirmed.

“Cows calve down with excellent appetites. They are just ready to perform and reach peak milk yield earlier. Metabolic problems, which can be a real problem directly after calving, have also been significantly reduced.”

So how does Bio-Chlor work?

In crude terms, the dairy cow’s rumen is nothing more than a large fermentation vat containing billions of bacteria. It’s a very simple process: as bug numbers grow, the cow harvests those that are available to help meet her own nutritional needs, but it’s only in recent times that research has focussed on identifying the conditions in the rumen that best suit microbial growth.

“The theory is very simple,” explains Colin Purdy.

“By identifying the factors limiting bacterial growth in the rumen, it is feasible to improve the efficiency of milk production and feed conversion. In other words more output per unit of feed.”

The Down Calver Nut is fed at a rate of four kilos per day during the three weeks leading up to calving.

“It is offered with grass silage or, if available, 50% whole crop and 50% grass silage plus straw to appetite. Freshly calved cows and heifers reach peak yields much more quickly.

“These are sustained longer, resulting in greater overall lactation yield compared to those not receiving the Bio-Chlor close up pre calving nut.

“In addition to improved milk yields, overall herd health is significantly improved, with much fewer displaced abomasums, milk fevers and retained placentas, plus significantly improved fertility reported by those herdowners using the Bio-Chlor approach to dry cow management.”

Colin concluded: “There is no doubt that the modern dairy cow finds great difficulty, directly after calving, in achieving the intake of feed required to meet her nutritional needs from a milk production point of view.

However, there is now a strong body of evidence that the use of Bio-Chlor three weeks pre calving can help in getting around this problem and, significantly, improved conception rates, having reduced the negative energy imbalance in early lactation.”

The open day gets underway at 11.00am. The Haffey farm is located at 83 Kilvergan Road, Lurgan, BT66 6LJ. Refreshments will be available after the conclusion of the event. For further information, contact Colin Purdy on 079808 65059.