Monday, 28 June 2010

Wonderful French Hospitality on Breton Grass based Dairyfarms

"Pasture to Profit" grass based dairy farmers from England, Wales & Northern Ireland again visited Brittany in France & were treated to thought provoking farm visits, wonderful food with local ciders & wines, glorious sunshine & very good craic....banter & fun!
You would be amazed language barriers, doubts or previously held views collapse & vanish over a cold glass of Breton Cider. The Breton friendship & hospitality was wonderful as we met "like minded" farming families, walked the farms, struggled with translation, & laughed together over another cold cider.

The food was amazing!

Tough "Student work"......but someone has to do it!

For some it was exhausting!

Too much really!

I know..what happens on tour stays on tour....but I couldn't resist!
Key Messages from Brittany

Question.... When is your group going to visit Brittany this is a very important tour for every P2P group to make.

Question..... Why are wives not going to Brittany with these group tours???? You are missing out girls!

There is still life after tough NVZs (140kg N/ha organic N) & there is still grass growth in abundance without Nitrogen. Some of the clover swards were fantastic.

Although there are only 50 Organic dairy farms in Brittany (out of 12000) we saw a trend to organic conversion amongst the pasture based dairy farms we visited.

A good reminder from Travarez Research Centre that the average response to concentrates (from many trials) was less than 1 litre of Milk for each 1 kg Conc fed.

Extraordinary that French farmers still have a huge say in the farm research different from the UK sadly where UK farmers have lost the effective research centres, lost control of the projects & where DairyCo seems reluctant to commit to a research program?????

Family time is a serious priority for Breton dairy farmers.....Work Less Earn More!

If you don't have a clear precise Business do you know where you are going?

International study tours always reap changes in farm practices & in farmer thinking.....BIG TIME!

Sunshine & warmth but rapid drop off in grass growth

Brittany was seriously dry & pasture growth was falling rapidly. It was easy to be critical of increasing ryegrass seedhead development & stalky pastures.......that is until we returned to the see the exact same situation.
There is NO moisture reserve in the sub soil & now with a few warm days grass growth has all but stopped in many areas.
Grazing Rotations must be lengthened.....if need be by using supplements. The grazing rotation can be doubled over night if you stop grazing at nights & put the whole farm on a day round. There is little you can do if growth stops......but a long rotation ensures a quick recovery once the rain comes. Long grass can be used as a crop especially if supplement is used at night. The clover content on most farms will be sufficient to meet cow's dietary protein needs.
Get the youngstock off the milking pad. This group is much easier to supplement & besides the milkers are priority.
Make sure the cows have plenty of good quality water. Water consumption will often rise above 100 litres per cow per day on hot days.
Make changes now while there is still some growth.

So what is the pasture growth in your area?
Northern Ireland 2115kgs Av. Cover, 60kgDM Growth, 24 day rotation, 3kg Conc & some rain
Northern Ireland 2050, 15kg, 60 days, 4kgs Conc + silage pm
Stranraer 1950, 35kg, 23 days demand very high due to silage cuts
Dumfries 1986, 54kg, 18 days Some rain or Scotch Mist!
Cumbria 2150, 35kg, 35 days feeding 4kg conc
Cumbria 1935, 18kg, feeding 3kg conc rained last night but needs to be more
North Wales 2060, 59kg, 25 days Good response to N
North Wales 1930, 32kg, 20-26 days Feeding PK & Brewers Grain
South West Wales Organic 2194, 41 growth, 30 days, demand 43 2kg conc just rained (again!)
Shropshire 2230, 68kg, 35 days
Shropshire organic 2200, 53kg, 25 days 2kg conc
Cheshire Organic 25kg growth, 25kg demand (400grms Conc)
Staffordshire 2109, 15kg, 31 days 2kgs Conc & pre mowing silage grass
Staffordshire 1925, 13kg, 30 days 5kgs supplement & some minus growth
Staffordshire 1950, 10-15kg, 30 days, 4kgs plus silage
East Staffordshire 1980, 32kg, 28 days feeding 4kg Maize silage pm
Derbyshire 2209, 48kg, 20days demand 69 & 1kg Conc
Herefordshire 2100, 68kg, 25 days
Herefordshire 2300, 40kg, 27 days Demand 50
Gloucestershire 1977, 51kg, 23 days Demand 43
Somerset Organic 2100, 30kg, 40 days Grass only
Buckingshire Organic 1650, Zero growth, 35 days...12kgs DM Silage
Somerset 20kg, 30 days Demand 39 & 7kgs DM fed Very Dry
Dorset 2015, 25kg, 35 days Demand 31 & 4kgs Conc silage shortly
Dorset Dismal, 15kg Depressing, Long rotation.....about to dry off autumn cows
Dorset 2080, 20kg, 60days Silage & 3kgs blend
Somerset 2300, 30kg, 35 days & 3kg conc
East Sussex Organic 1900, 28kg, 28 days huge drop in growth
East Sussex 2084, 53kg, 28 days OAD & Chicory
Devon 2000, 40kg, 35 days feeding extra 600kg silage + 200kg Conc per day to herd
Cornwall 2150, 30kg, 40 days OAD & turnips soon
Cornwall 2050, 40kg, 28 days......rain or Cornish Mist today
Cornwall 2032, 49kg, 24 days no feeding
Ireland Limerick 2100, 55kgs, 23 days No feeding & using N...rain forecast

1 comment:

  1. A huge thank you to the 34 UK & Irish grass based dairyfarmers who willingly provide their pasture growth & grazing data. Thanks guys. Tom