New Forage for Knowledge Contributors

Published 13 February 15

Four farmers have joined the existing group of Forage for Knowledge contributors in 2015, adding to the range of experience and management styles. All 12 have one thing in common, the aim to make a profit from grazing and quality forage.

Karolina Klaskova is part of the team at Dynamic Dairying Ltd, which runs a dairy at Beaulieu, Hampshire, on a contract-farming agreement. The herd was previously run alongside a traditional high-input all-year-round calving system, with mainly Holsteins and Montbeliarde crosses. Since February 2013, the team has been involved in transforming it to an autumn calving, self-feed silage and grazing system.

The herd currently consists of 320 cows, with 200 replacements, which are also reared in-hand. The existing herd has been crossed with predominantly NZ Friesian/KiwiCross and Swedish Red genetics, to provide a medium-sized, high solids and fertile grazing animal.

Cows graze from February to the beginning of November, and calve outside on ‘standing-hay’. The winter self-feed silage is made of a third grass silage with wheat feed incorporated at clamping, and two-thirds maize silage with rapemeal, along with flat-rate concentrate feeding in-parlour. The grazing platform is approximately 120ha* with 60ha for maize and 40ha of very marginal marsh grazing in the summer for dry cows.

Tom Blanchard milks 350 cows in roughly 50:50 blocks of spring and autumn calvers, near Marlborough in Wiltshire. The cows range from pure Holsteins to Jersey crosses and are milked on a 101ha platform. Tom also has 36ha of maize and 8ha of fodder beet.

Ben Walker farms near Attleborough, in Norfolk. His 160-strong Holstein Friesian herd had previously been pure Holstein, but Ben is now using a lot of British Friesian Genetics. This season, Ben has 51 in-calf heifers and 48 heifer calves. The herd is autumn calving between 1 September and 30 November. 

There are currently 69ha of grass at Hall Farm, with 24ha used for early grazing and 28ha shut for first cut, which will then join the grazing platform. About 16ha is used for grazing, youngstock and dry cows. He rents a further 18ha for in, calf heifers. About 30ha of maize will be drilled this year.

George Brown is herd manager at Cairnhead Farm in Ainstable, Cumbria. The herd of 390 spring calving cows are mostly New Zealand Friesian, with some Jersey Crosses, yielding 490kg MS (5,500 - 6,000 L) per year. At an elevation of about 182m, the milking platform is 120ha and there are a further 60ha used for youngstock and silage ground.