We share some highlights from this year’s UK Dairy Day, held at Telford International Centre on September 11th 2019. Now in its sixth year, the one-day event attracted more than 9,000 visitors. It’s organised by Holstein UK, with support from a wealth of other businesses and organisations within the dairy sector. Rachael Porter writes.
Excellent silage-making year
The coming winter looks set to be a good one for UK dairy producers, with better quality silage and increased stocks pointing towards reduced feed costs and improved production from forage.
That was the message from Trouw Nutrition GB’s Liz Homer (right) at UK Dairy Day, who shared the results of 4,500 first-cut grass samples, 1,000 second cuts, and more than 500 wholecrop samples analysed so far this year.
“Good weather and the adoption of multi-cut systems by many producers mean that silage stocks are typically higher and the quality is looking good,” she said. “Together these should allow higher forage intakes, improve rumen performance, and the potential to reduce purchased feed costs per litre.
“The high quality seen in the early first cuts has continued into later cuts. Grass silage is drier, on the whole, with good energy and protein contents. And wholecrop has a higher starch content, but slightly depressed energy levels overall.”
Dr Homer added that while silages are analysing better (see Table 1), there is a range in the results: “This means that it is essential that producers get clamps analysed regularly. The priority must be to understand how the forages will feed and to balance them appropriately.”
Dr Homer said that there should be the opportunity to drive forage intakes, with each additional 1kg of forage dry matter fed allowing a reduction of 0.8kgDM from concentrates. “This will help to increase margins.”
To maximise intakes she stresses the need to avoid the TMR or clamps heating, to mix the diet correctly, to push feed up regularly, and to optimise total ration dry matter at between 45 per cent and 50 per cent.
“Producers could be on the brink of a more profitable winter, but the imperative will be to maximise the value in the clamp by balancing diets carefully, targeting higher forage dry matter intakes and having faith in the forage and not over-supplementing diets.”
Cut feed waste to drive profit margins
Producers can now benefit from a pioneering advice service that aims to increase profit margins by a minimum of 1.2ppl through reducing feed waste and optimising input utilisation.
Launched at UK Dairy Day, Alltech Navigate aims to support the dairy industry on the journey to higher business resilience.
The advice service, which is free to access, involves a simple three-step process; assess, analyse, action.
“A two-hour on-farm assessment looks, at detail, into the four key areas where feed waste can occur,” said the company’s Ian Leach. These areas include; in the field, during storage, at feed-out, and inside the cow.
“Data collected during the assessment is then analysed using the programming tool in order to produce percentage losses, and monetary values, to illustrate the financial pinch-points,” he added.
“Finally, a concise report, containing actionable recommendations is generated to help farmers make well-informed strategic decisions on what steps, and potential investment, is required to help reduce feed waste and optimise input utilisation.”
Results from the latest Alltech feed waste reduction and utilisation on-farm pilot study, which looked specifically at higher-efficiency UK dairy herds, highlighted that feed waste could be costing as much as £216 per cow, per year.
“However, the reality is that this figure could be much higher depending on the system in place. For example, results from our first pilot study, which assessed a broad spectrum of dairy farms, revealed that the average waste value per cow sat at £522.44 per annum,” he said.
“Based on a 200-cow herd, this could lead to financial losses of up to £105,000 during a 12-month period. So tackling feed waste offers a huge opportunity to boost the bottom line.
“And while it is a challenging area, there are practical steps that can be taken.”
Show ring results highlights
Interbreed Grand Championship
Champion: (Holstein) Newbirks Jazz 1584, owned by R & E Butterfield
Reserve Champion: (Ayrshire) Allstar Triclo Joybell, owned by E T Tomlinson & Son
Honourable Mention: (Brown Swiss) Kedar Rhapsody, owned by T Lochhead & Sons
Holstein Grand Championship
Champion: Newbirks Jazz 1584, owned by R & E Butterfield
Reserve Champion: Evening Stanleycup Jennifer, owned by Evening Hill Farm Ltd
Honourable Mention: Whinchat Stanleycup Farrah, owned by Evening Hill Farm Ltd