Dennis Minford and his son, James, milk just short of 200 cows on their farm at Nutts Corner in Co Antrim.
“The cows calve between late August and the end of March,” explained James.
“This allows us to maximise milk output from high quality grass silage, wholecrop and concentrates. We bring in 60 home-bred replacements each year.
“The milking group is currently averaging 34.5L. This is the best performance that we have ever achieved from the cows.”
To a large extent, the Minfords attribute this to the quality of the grass silage they made last year.
“The protein content is well up, as are all the other attributes of the forage,” said Dennis.
“Changing our fertiliser policy has had a lot to do with this. A year or so ago, we noticed that a number of the swards started to yellow quite significantly. Not having sown phosphate for quite a while made us think that this was the cause of the deficiency problem.
“However, soil analysis confirmed that we actually had a sulphur deficiency issue. It was for this reason that we started using Nutri Booster.
“The response was more than significant. Dry matter yields have risen significantly across the farm. And we are also getting the benefit of significant improvements in silage quality. Last year, our top field yielded 13t/ha on a dry matter basis.”
The Minfords are also using Nutri Booster on their grazing paddocks.
“We saw a marked improvement in sward palatability last year,” said James.
“The cows cleaned the paddocks consistently.”
Yara’s Chloe Kyle was a recent visitor to the Minford farm.
“Selenium is also present in its selenate readily available form. This trace element is a crucial driver of the cow’s immune system.”
The Minfords confirmed that cell milk count levels are currently well below where they would have been in previous years.
“We are attributing this to the impact of the additional selenium that is contained within Nutri Booster,” said James.
According to Chloe, the application of Nutri Booster throughout the growing season will lead to an improvement in the general health of the herd, improving fertility and reducing the number of cows treated for mastitis. She added:
“The fertiliser contains sodium selenate, not selenite, which is more easily taken up and, therefore, its inclusion in the product makes it an ideal method of fortifying grass to achieve daily intake requirements.”
A simulated grazing trial carried out at AFBI Loughgall, confirmed a yield increase of 1.1t of dry matter per hectare in favour of Nutri Booster over CAN
“This can be attributed to the additional sulphur in Nutri Booster and represents an increase of £334/ha in net margin for a dairy enterprise,” said Chloe.
She concluded: “Nutri Booster has been specially formulated for the Irish grassland farmer to include nitrogen, sulphur, selenium and sodium in every granule for even distribution across the spreader bout width so that every blade of grass gets the correct nutrient ratio.”