Dairy Focus

Derek Merrylees began working with Advanced Nutrition three years ago. His work in dairy nutrition has had a huge impact on his clients across Scotland. We focus on the results of his work with Peter & Susan Morris and family at Greengatehouse Farm as milk production has increased from an average of 9,700 litres to over 10,000 litres in little over a year, with the high yield group now achieving an average of 43 litres per cow per day. These improvements have gained the business an additional £115 per cow per year.

Dairy Focus

Derek Merrylees

Prior to working with Advanced Nutrition, Derek spent over seven years working with some of the largest and highest yielding dairy herds in Scotland. Following a two year feeding program with BOCM Pauls, he began working with dairy businesses helping to make them more profitable. Derek is FACTS qualified and an expert on fertility and grassland programs.

In 2015 he joined the team at Advanced Nutrition. “What attracted me to the company was their whole farm approach, joining health and nutrition to improve all round performance of the herd. You can’t just fix parts of the business you have to look at all aspects.” Indeed Derek’s answer if things aren’t working on farm - “I rip up the sheet, start afresh, look at the environment and listen to what the cows are telling me. At that point I can work out what the bottlenecks are and set some KPIs to acheive an increase in daily lifetime yields within the herd.”

This approach has helped a number of his clients, against a backdrop of sustained low milk prices. Derek’s skill lies in finding the right nutritional products to benefit the herd, all of which can be sourced from a range of suppliers, to keep cows healthy and ultimately producing more milk. One client that’s really seeing the benefits is the Morris family.

PJN & SM Morris, Greengatehouse Farm, Lockerbie

Herd: 160 milking Holstein cows

Diet: Grass silage, bespoke blend, parlour nuts and Advanced Fusion

System: The high yielding cows are housed year round. To reduce production cost, the low yielders were grazed from spring to late summer this year

Contract: Arla

Derek began working with Peter and Susan Morris and their daughters, Joanna and Janet in May 2015. They needed help to increase milk production, as the cows just weren’t milking as well as they should and therefore not fulfilling their potential. Across the herd the cows were averaging 30 litres per cow per day.

Following a full farm assessment, Derek visited the Morris family on a weekly basis for the first couple of months and is currently visiting once every fortnight.

Providing the correct nutritional balance to this herd was key to the improvements on farm. The diet was adjusted, monitored and re-adjusted to produce results. Derek formulated a high energy TMR to compliment the grass silage and a highly palatable and rumen friendly nut called Advanced Robot 18 which they feed through the parlour.

Milk yield increased as a result of the whole diet being improved.

Advanced Fusion

Early on, Peter was clear that despite wanting to reduce production costs, he was not willing to reduce the quality of the feed to the cows. Derek suggested he tried incorporating the fats and minerals that were already part of the ration into one bespoke blend called Advanced Fusion. The product saved the Morris family 9p/cow/day in just the costs of the feed, that’s approximately £400 a month. As a pre-blend it also saved on time and was easy to feed.

“Advanced Fusion has just simplified things for us. We buy one product, there’s no need to mix lots of products together and we now only have to pop out once for deliveries at breakfast time instead of twice!” Peter Morris

Milk from forage

Derek is also working with the farm to push more milk from forage. Milk from forage has increased by 1201 litres and the farm is on target to achieve 3000 litres from forage by May 2017.

This was achieved by reducing the amount of concentrate but maintaining the energy level in the diet by increasing the supply of high quality home-grown forage steadily. Silage samples are regularly taken to determine any changes to DM content, energy and mineral levels allowing Derek to formulate the ACM accordingly.

Advanced Robot 18 Nuts

Advanced Robot Nuts, (formulation by ARN, designed to be fed through a robot system), have been fed in the parlour since May of last year. This high energy, high fibre nut was chosen as it’s designed not to limit forage intake outside of the parlour and because it doesn’t crumble readily it reduces any potential wastage.

Since working with Derek on improving the whole diet, the farm has seen:-

  • An increase in milk sold by 401 litres.
  • An increase of milk from forage of 1201 litres to date
  • An increase in profit of over £115 per cow in the year

Looking ahead

The past year, has certainly thrown up some challenges on farm. It’s been essential to provide high quality nutrition but at an affordable price. It’s all about choosing the right products for the farm, continually monitoring their effects, improving and adjusting the diet.

“Derek has helped us to take the business forward and increase milk yield. He’s passionate about his work and most importantly if there’s ever an issue on farm he’s onto it, to make sure the production system keeps working.” Mr Morris

If you'd like to see if Advanced Nutrition could help maximise your herd's potential, please contact us on 07787 444377.


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