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Making the most of forage improves herd margins by over £111.00 per cow

Sector News Sector News13-9-2019

James is the fifth generation farming at Tredinney Farm, near Penzance where he runs a herd of 320 cows made up of equal proportions of Jersey, Guernsey and Holstein cows. 

Over the last 12 months, milk sold has averaged 8000 litres/cow.  James is currently Chairman of the English Guernsey Cattle Society and has a keen interest in improving the genetics of the herd.

Louise Woolacott & James Warren
Louise Woolacott & James Warren

The Challenge & Current Conditions

Last summer the challenge set to Matt Jenkin and Louise Woolacott from ForFarmers, was to increase both herd margin and milk from forage.

Maize silage is a key part of the diet and is fed all year round.  On average, 115 acres are grown for the farm on both owned and rented ground. 

The farm is not in the most favourable maize growing area being five miles from Land’s End but manage to get respectable yields at 15-16tFW/acre and importantly need a high quality feed to help produce the high quality milk to meet their contract. 

James looks for early maturing varieties, as he does not want a late maturing crop.  Then it is all about forage quality and he targets to produce a crop at around 35% dry matter and 35% starch.

The system is partial TMR with the outside feed based on M+16 litres and topped up with feed in the parlour.  Last year milk from forage was 2560 litres per cow and the aim was to improve this. 

High quality silage

With very open winters and early spring, a big challenge is to keep the partial TMR stable to allow high forage intakes.  Matt and Louise identified that the maize silage could be heating in these open conditions.  If the TMR could remain cool and stablise it, it could improve feed intakes and milk from forage.

James has always used an additive, but Louise recommended changing to Sil-All Maize All. Sil-all 4x4 FVA for the grass silages and Sil-all Maize FVA for the all maize silage.  Both contain a propionic acid producing a bacterial strain that reduces yeast and mould activity. It was noticeable that the silages were keeping cooler, helping keep the silage more stable.

Afbeelding: Silage

Results

James says the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  “Milk from forage has gone up by 460 litres per cow while margin over purchased feed is up by £111 per cow.”

“Better forage efficiency has meant we have been able to reduce the concentrate feed rate from 0.33kg/l to 0.31kg/l.

“Silage has remained cool during feed out, meaning less waste.  We only feed our dry cows every other day, as the mix has remained cool all the time.

 

For further information on forage, please contact your local ForFarmers Forage Specialist or call us on: 0330 678 1200