Holstein NI held its 20th annual general meeting recently at Moira. The event was supported by long-term sponsor Dairy Herd Management.
Outgoing chairman Jason Booth extended a warm welcome and said he was delighted to see a good turnout of members.
A minutes silence was observed in memory of club members who had passed away in recent months.
Jason Booth gave a resume of Holstein NI’s numerous activities, including shows and sales, throughout the year. Highlights of 2018 were the open day at the Irwin family’s Redhouse Herd which raised in excess of £20,000 for three local charities; herds competition and stockjudging event held at the McLean family’s Priestland Herd; HYB Calf Show; and the club’s annual dinner in Cookstown.
He also congratulated the McCormick family from Bangor on winning the All-Britain Junior Heifer Award with Hilltara Atwood Maude 10. The McLean family’s Priestland 6135 Atwood Ambrosia was reserve All-Britain Senior Heifer.
The election of office bearers was conducted by Gary Watson from Dairy Herd Management.
He said: “We are pleased to continue our sponsorship of the AGM. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the club on another successful and busy year.”
Co Down farmer Charlie Weir from the Burnhill Herd in Waringstown was elected chairman; while Iain McLean from the Priestland Herd, Bushmills, was elected as vice-chairman. John Martin was unanimously returned as secretary and treasurer for another term.
Newly elected committee members who will serve a three-year term include: Malcolm McLean, Relough Herd, Donaghmore; Alan Irwin, Redhouse Herd, Benburb; James Stewart, Ballinaskeagh Herd, Banbridge; David Perry, Killane Herd, Ahoghill; and Jonny Matthews, Lisnasure Herd, Banbridge.
The NI Holstein Young Breeders’ Club also staged its AGM at the Moira venue. Andrew Patton and Leiza Montgomery were re-elected as joint co-ordinators of the NI Holstein Young Breeders’ Club.
Jess Hall was elected as treasurer, while Heather Martin from Newtownards was re-elected a secretary.
Addressing the AGM, Dale Farm’s producer services manager Gary Watson outlined the importance of reducing antibiotics in the dairy herd.
He said: “We need to address the issue of antimicrobial resistance. While there is a need for antibiotics, farmers must be proactive and refrain from over use.”
He highlighted the benefits of monthly milk recording which gives an accurate picture of each individual cow, and the Milk Sure Training course which is delivered by vets and recommended by the Red Tractor scheme. He also stressed the importance of herd health, as diseases such as Johnes, BVD, IBR and Lepto also have a negative impact on milk production.
“Farmers should adopt a ‘whole farm approach’ involving herd health, cleanliness and genetics.
“RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) is focused on reducing the use of intra mammary antibiotics in dry and lactating cows, and promoting the increased use of teat sealants at drying off.
“One of the key approaches is Selective Dry Cow Therapy – managing cows individually, rather than using a blanket approach across the herd. Farmers should consult vets and implement parameters suitable for their farm situation. Hygiene is also critical at drying off.”
Gary concluded: “Milk recording is an essential tool, and selective dry cow therapy represents significant cost savings per cow. It is important to protect healthy bacteria in the udder, and by reducing antibiotic usage farmers can improve the effectiveness of necessary medical intervention.”
Guest speaker for the AGM was CAFRE adviser Alan Hopps who has recently returned from a three-day NIRDP Farm Innovation Visit to the Netherlands. Alan reported that the Netherlands has 1.67 million cows and produces 13,879 million litres of milk annually.
“Cow numbers have dropped 7% from 2016, mainly due to phosphate regulations. The average herd size is 95 cows, and the average yield is 8,706kgs at 4.36% fat and 3.57% protein, with milk selling for 32.26p per litre.
“Land in Holland is sold per square metre, which equates to around £26,000 per acre; while wages are 25 euro per hour, or 200 euro per day.”
Alan continued: ”Colostrum is Liquid Gold when it comes to calf rearing. Farmers in Holland have adopted an accelerated growth program which advocates four litres of colostrum in the first feed, followed by 2 litres in the second feed. Colostrum with a Brix score +20 is recommended.
“The gut is more absorbent at an early age, and quality colostrum provides improved immunity.”
The Dutch system also advocates feeding more milk replacer daily to accelerate calf growth, up to 16 litres of acidified whole milk per day. The aim is to achieve one kilo of DLWG from birth to weaning, with a target of 120kgs calves at 90 days of age.
“The ‘accelerated’ system adds a significant cost to calf rearing, but trials have shown that heifers have earlier conception, produce up to 700 litres more milk in the first lactation, and have more lactations.”
Alan’s presentation also outlined the importance of hygiene, and his photographs highlighted that outdoor hutches were prominent on the farms visited in the Tilburg region. He also pointed out that calves are fed a high DM ration of milled straw and concentrates.
“It’s like a TMR for calves. Silage isn’t fed to heifers under four-months of age.”
Concluding Alan Hopps said: “On observation the Dutch heifers were well grown and well fleshed. Rearing replacement heifers shouldn’t be seen as a cost, it’s an investment in the future of a dairy herd.”
Charlie Weir said he was delighted to be appointed as the club’s new chairman.
He thanked Dairy Herd Management for its continued sponsorship of the AGM, and presented a token of appreciation to guest speaker Alan Hopps.
Breed champion exhibitors at provincial shows in 2018 included: Balmoral Show, Megan Syndicate, Glaslough; Ballymena, Ballymoney, Clogher, Enniskillen, and Limavady, McLean family, Priestland Herd, Bushmills; Lurgan and Armagh, Philip and Simon Haffey, Glasson Herd, Portadown; Antrim, David and Alan Wallace, Abercorn Herd, Antrim; Saintfield, Clandeboye Herd, Bangor; Newry, Andrew Magowan, Bannwater Herd, Rathfriland; Omagh, Ronald McLean and Sons, Donaghmore and Castlewellan, David Simpson, Damm Herd, Lisburn. Iain McLean was the recipient of the club award which recognises outstanding contribution and commitment.