On-farm co-operation brings success

Farmer John Lyons, centre, discussing the latest pregnancy scan on his farm at Armagh with James Compston, Genus RMS and Conor Loughran, Genus ABS. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Farmer John Lyons, centre, discussing the latest pregnancy scan on his farm at Armagh with James Compston, Genus RMS and Conor Loughran, Genus ABS. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

A change in dairy farming policy two years ago has brought physical and financial rewards for the Lyons farm partnership at Brookleigh, Armagh.

In 2016 John Lyons and his uncle, Tom, were using stock bulls and working very hard to increase yield and pregnancy rate. Their Genus ABS representative, Conor Loughran suggested that they should introduce Genus’ Reproductive Management System (RMS). This would not only eliminate the cost, management and safety aspects of stock bulls but would also mean an increase in pregnancy rate. With RMS a Genus ABS technician would call every day to carry out heat detection and to AI cows as necessary.

Looking over a batch of 11 month old Classic and Pello maiden heifers on John Lyons farm at Armagh. From left: Stuart McNulty, farm worker; John Lyons; Conor Loughran, Genus ABS; Simon Logan, Genus ABS and Jemma McHugh, Thompsons. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Looking over a batch of 11 month old Classic and Pello maiden heifers on John Lyons farm at Armagh. From left: Stuart McNulty, farm worker; John Lyons; Conor Loughran, Genus ABS; Simon Logan, Genus ABS and Jemma McHugh, Thompsons. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

John commented: “We did agree to this with some trepidation. First of all there was the cost of the RMS service and the worry that the pregnancy rate might not improve – after all, this technician was only calling once a day whereas the stock bulls were in constant attendance. However we were not making the progress that we needed so we decided to give it a try.”

Two years later John and his uncle have a very different view of the service. Yields have increased by 1,500 litres per cow, the improvement in conception rate has meant that heifers are served at 13 months and are calving down at two years old.

The Lyons herd is now using beef bulls on the lower performing section of the herd and will be in a position to sell high quality beef calves plus dairy calves that are not needed for replacements. The overall result is a pregnancy rate of 19%; a conception rate of 38% and a 379 day calving interval.

John went on to point out that an aspect of the service that he had not envisaged when it was introduced on the farm is the detailed records and their analysis.

He said: “These records not only allow us to keep track of all the financial and management details of the enterprise but help us in planning and anticipating any difficulties that might arise. It allows everyone involved with the enterprise – Genus ABS, nutritionist, veterinary input etc to be much more pro-active with advice as we have detailed statistics whereby they can make decisions, and quantify and analyse advice. This co-operation is really beneficial from a financial and management point of view.”

John added: “In addition to the excellent advice and service we have received from Genus ABS we would also like to mention the expert nutritional advice we have received from Jemma McHugh from John Thompson and Sons regarding the dairy and calf rearing enterprises.”

Any farmer who would like to have further information about the RMS system, should contact their Genus representative or phone the office on 02838 331451.