Optimising Milk from Forage
Optimising milk from forage is the way to go for new…
Advanced Nutrition are looking forward to the Ayrshire Conference held tomorrow, May 14th, at the Davidson Family Farm.
We've been working with Keith Davidson and his family in Ayr since 2013. Situated on the rolling hills of Castle Douglas, the Davidson family milk 175 pedigree Ayrshire cows all year round with a herd size of 200.
The cows are at grass for at least six months of the year and the herd currently produce an average of 8500 litres of milk with 4.5% butterfat and 3.3% protein. This quality milk also goes into making the famous Glen Urr Ice Cream - another successful Davidson family business. We hear there’ll be some ice cream at the conference to tantalise the taste buds!
The family are pleased to host the Ayrshire Society visit, not least because Keith is Ayrshire Society Chairman but because he and his family have a real passion for Ayrshire cows - reflected in his award winning, prestigious Halmyre Herd. Keith most notably won the National Ayrshire Championship in 2018 with Mayflower 240 an 8th calver. She also won Reserve Ayrshire Cow at AgriScot in 2016. Floralynn 144, another in the herd, won Interbreed Dairy Champion 2012 at the Royal Highland Show and Louise 193 picked up the Ayrshire Champion at Ayr, Dumfries and Highland in 2008. The herd also won the Murchland Trophy in 2010.
When we started working with the Davidsons our brief was to improve herd margins, along with the continued improvement of herd health and to increase milk from home grown forage.
To improve herd health, we focused on cow comfort, changing the cubicles' sizes to accommodate the cows well enough.
Keith commented, “Lying times have vastly increased with cubicles being the right size for the cows.”
We also looked at the ventilation in the shed, opening up the sides of the shed to increase airflow through it.
“With the improved airflow the shed is much fresher and cleaner with a better environment for cows and us to work in,” Keith Davidson.
To increase milk from forage we focused on the farm’s re-seeding policy and this included changing from 2 to 3 cuts per year. This has made a big difference as the Davidsons are now able to feed more of their own forage, reducing the need for concentrates therefore lowering farm input costs.
“Making the most of home-grown forage is vital for the herd to keep improving,” Keith Davidson.
The quality of the forage has also improved, with the proof in the pudding resulting in a win for the Davidsons gaining the National Scottish Title for Silage in 2019.
Moving forward over the next year our main focus is to reduce the current calving age of heifers and to keep driving milk from forage. These are exciting times for everyone involved at Halmyre with an interesting future to come!
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