Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Pasture based Dairyfarm Expansion....Think Water!

This week I have made some changes to the blog which I hope will make it more interesting to visit.
If you look down the right hand side of this blog page you will see a number of different sections. First is the Twitter updates listing recent entries I have made onto Twitter....you may not be a "tweeter" but these messages go out to a huge audience both in the UK & worldwide to a very mixed & often non farming audience. I think its important that we tell both consumers & Govt people what we are doing & regularly tell them what is good about grass fed milk & how environmentally careful we as pasture based dairy farmers really are every day of the year. Nor am I hesitant to tell ministers to sort problems like rampant ragwort on our motorways & roadsides which are a serious threat to dairy cows & dairyfarms.
Next I have added a number of other blogs from around the world that you might like to read & investigate.
Check out TOM'S FAVOURITE BLOGS (see on the righthand side of this page)
I hope you enjoy the extra reading material that is now on the Pasture to Profit Blog..

Stock Drinking Water is Very Important
Water is a crucial part of herd expansion & needs careful planning. You need to start with the existing water supply but often this is woefully inadequate. Too often water pipes are too small & nobody knows where the existing pipes are located.

Water & tracks go together. Water pipe lines are easier to install before subdivision fence lines or tracks are laid but it all needs to be part of the big plan. Get expert help to create a farm plan for the expanded herd size. I still think the number of paddocks is far more important than the actual size. I recommend 30 per farm.
Bertie Troy provides a very good mapping service for pasture based dairy farmers in the UK & Ireland http://www.grasstec.ie/

An important animal welfare issue for all dairyfarmers is that dairy cows have access to good quality drinking water at all times.http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/nrenti.nsf/LinkView/85DA1027B08FF286CA25750E0005C7A85B65FD3894DB84E6CA2574AC000CF430/$file/Dairy%20Industry%20Welfare%20Report.pdf

However this is also closely linked to profit & milk production as milking cows without adequate water drop in milk production immediately.
No farmer likes to see any livestock remotely short of water.
Components of a Farm Water Supply
There needs to be a Water Source (Bore or Spring),Intake (powered by pump or gravity), Storage (Tanks or Dam of adequate size), Reticulation (under ground pipes that are big enough for herd demand eg 400 cows minimum of 50mm) & Outlet (troughs....the least important component of the system).

The pump (head) & the pipe size are critical to good water flow. Even if a pressure unit is put onto an existing water supply there is only a certain amount of water that can flow thru any given pipe diameter.
A loop line is much superior to a main line system.....it affects the total cost & importantly water troughs can be placed either above or very close to the pipeline. This minimises the short piece of pipe (less than 1 metre) of smaller diameter leading to the trough valve. Use full flow valves that are built for purpose.
There are some legal requirements that chould be checked .....mainly related to non return valves & the protection of pipes.

In the UK dairyfarmers have in the past relied on "Town or Mains Water" for stock water requirements but on most pasture based dairyfarms this is either inadequate or too expensive (or both). The costs of drilling for bore water are normally recouped within 2 yrs thru the savings on mains water. Once you have control over the water supply you can set up pumps, reservoirs(Normally 1 day of farm requirements), looplines & water troughs.
It also allows you to install dosetron systems for minerals & bloat treatment.

Water Requirements for Dairyfarms

Daily drinking water requirements depend on the Dry Matter% of the feed, temperatures, animal production (milk litres or growth) & stage of lactation.

There are a number of ways to calculate water requirements.
First way is that with the air temperature between 15-20 degrees C.....cows need 30-40 litres/day for maintenance PLUS 3-4 litres/per litre of milk produced.

The second method is based on the "DM intake X 6" plus 1 litre water/litre of milk produced.
Often if the diet is substantially fresh pasture then 80-90% of the water intake is via the pasture eaten. But you still need to allow for the hot dry summer peak demand day where the cows dietary intake could be mostly silage & concs.
Peak water flow rates needed on a dairy farm should be worked out on a per cow basis.

Milking Parlour....allow 70 litres per cow per day.
Drinking water/troughs...70 litres/cow /day (in hot weather this can peak at 140 litres/day), available in a five hour period = 14 litres/cow/hour

So an example:-
400 cows drinking 14litre/hr= 5600litres/hr flow required
To get litres/minute divide this by 60: 5600/60=93litres/minute required.

Trough size

Trough size is important for access, rather than water storage. Paddocks for a herd of 400+ cows should perhaps have 2 water troughs.

Trough size should be half the one hour demand

So our 400 cow herd needs 5600litres/hr, so the water trough capacity in each paddock should be at least 2800 litres (2 x 1400(370gals)).

Plan water requirements ahead of future development.....too often the existing water supply was barely adequate......let alone sufficient for a future expanded herd size....Go BIG is Good with Water....Think Ahead!

Please document a plan for the farm water supply so you & everyone else will know where the pipes & taps/valves are on the farm map.

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