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High-yielding dairy herd reaps benefits of compact TMR consistency

Dumfries farm K & M Jamieson uses an adapted compact TMR ration for its Holstein herd and has seen benefits to mix consistency, time and fuel savings since upgrading to a 28m3 BvL V-Mix diet feeder last summer.

Callum Jamieson says one of the biggest benefits in upgrading to the 28m3 machine is the saving in time. It also allows them to feed an extra 150 cows without needing to do another mix. 

With 750 cows yielding on average 12,000 litres, high-quality home-grown forage forms the core of the TMR ration fed to K & M Jamieson’s well known Holstein herd, based at Woodhead Farm near Annan in Dumfries.

In order to ensure greater consistency through the mix, a couple of years ago the Jamieson’s started using an adapted Compact TMR ration for the herd, fed using a BvL V-Mix diet feeder. Although they are split between two farms, the milking herd, which is all-year housed and milked three times a day, are all managed and fed as one herd.

Originating from Denmark, Compact TMR involves the soaking and pre-mixing of the dry components of the mix in water overnight, after which the rest of the mix is added. This has the benefit that it makes it impossible for the dry components of the ration to be separated out. As a result, every cow is fed a more consistent ration which can result in a significant improvement in yield and quality.

To keep things simple, the Jamieson’s just make a single ration mix for the milking herd, and a second for the dry cows. The milking herd mix is based on 33kg of high D-Value grass silage from four cuts taken on a 35-day cycle, along with 2kg of whole crop from 60ha of the 101ha of cereals grown on the farm.

The adapted Compact element of the mix is made up of 4.5kg of distillers draff, 6.5kg of blend, 4.5kg soda treated wheat, 1.5kg rolled barley plus minerals and fats, which are then mixed with 9kg of water.

Because they need to do two mixes due to the size of the milking herd, using a rear discharge door on the V-Mix feeder, the adapted Compact element of the mix is then discharged onto the floor to soak overnight, before reloading the following day with the silage element of the mix.

Decision to upgrade

Having seen the benefits of using this ration within their TMR mix, when it came to replacing their old 17m3 BvL diet feeder with a new 28m3 machine last summer, the Jamieson’s opted to provide greater protection for the body and augers by having these faced with stainless steel.

Used behind a 140hp tractor, the V-Mix has also been specified with a Powershift reduction gearbox that reduces the load on the drive train and allows the mixer to be easily started and brought up to full mixing speed even when fully loaded. In addition to a rear discharge door, they also opted for discharge doors on either side of the V-Mix for feeding down either side of the feed passages, all fitted with rams so they can flick silage off and away.

“Mix consistency from the V-Mix diet feeders has always been good, but the new machine really does mix well and its noticeable how even the mix is right the way up and down the shed, especially as we only need to mix for about five minutes,” states Callum Jamieson.

“One of the biggest benefits of changing from a 17m3 feeder up to 28m3 V-Mix is the saving in time, plus it allows us to feed an extra 150 cows without needing to do another mix. We now only need to do four mixes a day taking about 2.5 hours compared to six mixes previously, so saving a couple of hours.”

Callum adds that in addition to a time saving, there is also a reduction in fuel use due to doing fewer mixes and having the reduction gearbox, plus wear and tear on both the tractor and the diet feeder, which generally is replaced on a four to five-year cycle, should also be reduced.

“We have been running BvL diet feeders for about 15 years now, over which time they have proved very reliable. The V-Mix is well built, wear and tear on our old machines has been good and our local dealer Carrs is just down the road. We certainly have no reason not to stay with BvL,” concludes Callum.

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