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Posted by rebecca on
May 20, 2013, 4:34 PM
â€œA very challenging springâ€ is the first comment from Steve Brandon (pictured), from New Building Farms, Stafford, when asked by his Massey Feeds area manager Rob Chell how the year was progressing so far. â€œIâ€™ve needed to supplement the cows with silage when I would not normally do so and feed more concentrates than usualâ€ he continues.
Steve and his team of Dave, Billy and Phil milk around 380 cows, calving them all from the February through to the end of April. In a typical year, the fresh calved cows would be straight out to grazing with limited silage and just 2-3kg of a grazing concentrate.
â€œWe normally finish off the silage feeding by the middle of March.â€ he says â€œGrazing in mid-February is possible on our farm as we graze all the silage fields before shutting them up for silage.â€
Steve and the team walk the fields weekly with a plate meter to monitor grass growth and, on the 3rd May, it was growing at 52kgDM per hectare per day, compared to 43kg at the same time last year.
With attention to detail like this, it is no wonder Steve has won the BGS National Management Competition in 2010 and the Staffordshire Agricultural Society Farms Competition in 2010 and 2012.
Currently, the cows are milking well averaging 32 litres at 4.1% fat and 3.42% protein, off grass and 4kg per day of Massey FiMLAC Q-HS 100/90 Nuts, a unique, low protein concentrate designed to balance grazing.
With all the cows calving in one big block, it is vital that they do so with minimal disorders. Milk fever has been an historical issue but this year has been significantly reduced. â€œWe have had far fewer cases this time roundâ€ said Steve. â€œand those few cows that did go down have responded far better to treatment, getting back up so much faster than previously.â€
This year, a specialist far off calving mineral was designed by David Wilde, Ruminant Product Manager at Massey Feeds and used alongside the silage. â€œWe carried out several forage mineral tests and this highlighted the silages that were best suited to the dry cows and those that should be avoidedâ€ said David.
Close to calving, cows were offered 2kg per day of FiMLAC Dry Cow Rolls with silage. â€œThis new regime has certainly helped reduce problems, with only five cases of retained cleansings and the calves are looking really fit and wellâ€ Steve said.
â€œLooking forward, first cut silage will be limited in quantity as it will try and head at the same time as usual, so we will take whatever is available and hope for a much better second cutâ€ Steve said.
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