Thursday, 17 June 2010

Future lies in Milk, Surplus Heifers & Energy Sales

Most UK dairy farmers probably believe that what remains of Dairy R & D is primarily for the benefit of farmers. But is this still true?? Probably NOT!

There are a number of issues....Lack of Research commitment by the likes of DairyCo, reduced Government spending, dairy farmer apathy towards research & lastly Governments increasingly wanting & directing Research facilities to do work that will frame Government policy especially in regard to climate change. Production research is NOT a priority any longer despite a looming World shortage of Food. Some projects might have a spin off benefit to this the best we as farmers can expect in the future.....maybe!

It depends on how much of a fight pasture based dairy farmers are prepared to put research important to you? If so you had better do something about it NOW!
Governments need information on how to reduce CO2 emissions....dairy farmers maybe a target for Govt but they should be a resource to reduce are we going to win the argument?

I recently visited Hillsborough Research centre in Northern Ireland with Gwennoline from France.....great day organised by Drs Conrad Ferris & Alister Carson....thank you guys.

Heifer Rearing

Steve Morrison described the extensive calf & heifer work being done at Hillsborough. If anyone is having problems with calves Steve & his colleagues have produced an excellent booklet called "Rearing Your 2010 Herd" which covers all things heifer.

One research fact that I thought was really interesting was that approx 80% of all calves sent for post mortems showed clear signs of a lack of colostrum. A calf requires 10% of it's birth liveweight in colostrum fed in the 1st 6 hours.

With our tight calving patterns & larger herds we should be ALL tubing every calf at birth as a matter of routine. This is a guarantee that every calf gets sufficient colostrum within the first hours of life.

If you are feeding milk powder to calves we need to aim for 500gms per day daily intake to hit the weaning targets of 100kgs LWT.

Grazing High Yielding Cows on Pasture
Andrew Dale is conducting grazing trials with high yielding Holsteins (40 litres per cow per day). The trial involves three pasture residue levels 1600kgs DM/ha (4cm), 1900 (5cm) & 2200kgs DM/ha (6cm). Can high yielding cows graze tight?

We will follow this trial with interest. GrassCheck is monitoring grass growth at 6 sites.

Renewable Energy on Farms
Hillsborough has a Renewable Energy Centre.
There are a number of interesting possible outcomes from the research at the REC. Firstly & perhaps surprisingly it is likely to be pasture based farms in Ireland which convert to Energy growing crops like Willows.....Why? The returns from energy crops like Willows are likely to be considerably more than the current or future beef farmers will switch.

Secondly, one of the strongest arguments for farmers getting involved in Energy Production is that it means "local ownership" it wind turbines or anaerobic digestion energy will be owned locally & returns will bolster local economies.

A range of timber products are put thru a furnace to reduce heating costs at Hillsborough.

Anaerobic Digestion was clearly described to me as being very similiar to the functionality of the this context it is finally very easy to understand. Methane is a by product of rumen digestion & anaerobic digestion.

Pasture Growth Rates on UK Dairy Farms
Northern Ireland Av. Pasture Cover 2153, 71kgs DM/ha/day, 21 day grazing rotation
Northern Ireland 2070, 67kg, 26 days
Northern Ireland 2200, 48kg, (61 demand) 21 days
Northern Ireland 2091, 22 days
Dumfries 2180, 83kg, 20 days
Cumbria 2400, 58kg, 20 days very dry
Cumbria 2143, 48kg, 28 days very dry
Cheshire Organic 2000, 50kg, 28 days
Staffordshire 2197, 56kg (platemeter), 80kg (calculated), demand 72, 20 days
Derbyshire 2396, 77kg, 20 days
Shropshire 2200, 67kg, 21 days
Herefordshire 2250, 66kg, 25 days
Herefordshire 2051, 77kg, 23days
Gloucestershire 2050, 50kg, 18 days
West Wales 2160, 120kg, 20 days
West Wales Organic 2205, 60kgs, demand 41kgs, 25 days
Somerset Organic 2300, 60kg, 30 days
Sussex 2158, 50kg, 30 days dry
Dorset 2202, 45kg, 35 days
Hampshire 2500, 108kgs, 26 days
Devon 2050, 76kg, 25 days
Devon 2654, 167kg, 28 days (power of dirty water)
Cornwall 2300, 70kg, 24 days
Cornwall 2300, 90kg, 25 days
Cornwall 2180, 102kg, 19 days
Ireland (Limerick) Av. Pasture Cover 2300, Growth 75kg, Grazing Rotation length 19 days
Good rains except Cumbria.....very good response to rain but still dry in many areas. Water shortage warnings in some areas.
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