Farmer comment 9 May

Published 9 May 14

Week beginning 5 May 2014 – Lydney Park, Gloucestershire

Keith Davis is dairy manager at Lydney Park, a privately owned estate on the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire. This is the first year both 360 strong Jersey cross herds on the estate, managed by Tim Thompson and Pawel Wegelewski, are once a day milking (OAD).

The milking platform is 190ha this year. Other crops grown for cattle are: maize, fodder beet and kale/rape hybrid. The farm is around 525ha with 150ha in arable rotation with winter crops, wheat and rape.

“As just one of the enterprises on the estate, we have to justify the usage of every hectare of land on profitability,” says Keith, summing up one of the farm’s philosophies.

Grass supply

Average Farm Cover       2,250kg DM/ha

Pre-grazing cover           About 2,900kg DM/ha on one herd and about 2,650kg DM/ha on the other

7-day grass growth        95kg DM/ha/day

Herd grass demand        70kg DM/ha/day

Cow performance

Milk yield and quality     19 litres/cow/day, 4.4% BF, 3.5% PR

Milk from forage             18 litres

Concentrate feed level     0.5kg/cow (“to get them into the parlour”)

 

“It’s been a bit of a slow start on grass growth this year, as ground temperatures have been low but things have got going in last week or two and we’d expect growths in the 80-100kg DM/ha/day range for the rest of May and June ,” says Keith.

“We’re aiming at pre-grazing covers of 2,900kg DM/ha, and any paddock which is 3,000kg DM/ha or above is missed out and shut up for silage. We would have cut this week if the weather was playing the game, so we are just waiting for that important weather window. Once a week we go round fertilising the grazing ground behind the cows, at 30kg N/ha.

“With this being our first season with both herds on OAD, we’re able to run a ‘trial’ on stocking rates – we never make mistakes here, we just do a lot of ‘trials’! The herd with the lower stocking rate has mountains of grass we’re having to deal with. While the herd with the higher stocking rate is on the cusp of having a shortage. I think we’d ideally be looking at a stocking rate of 3.4/5 LU/ha across the grazing platform and 2.5 LU/ha on the whole forage area. I think that’s round about where we’ll aim for next year.”