Insights from Local Milk Suppliers

No one will argue that the first half of 2013 was extremely challenging with a very late spring, albeit the second half of the year offered some respite with dry weather and sunshine.  While all farmers are at the mercy of the weather; skilled management can help herd owners maintain yields while, at the same time ensuring that cows are in good condition for breeding.

John Kingston’s farm and the challenges faced in 2013
A good example is John Kingston who milks 220 cows, mainly Jersey crosses, at his farm in Ballygaravan, Co. Cork. John is well known in the area as a former Dairygold Monitor Farmer. His dairy herd is a tightly stocked, spring calving to grass herd.  Like many others, the strongly depressed grass growth rates for most of the first half of 2013 caused problems for John and significantly increased his feed costs.  Despite this, in 2013 his cows produced 5,513 litres at an average 4.55% butterfat and 3.88% protein.

John and Postcalver GOLD
John fed Postcalver Gold from early lactation to the 10th of June when he cut out supplementation as he was heading over quota and grass growth and grazing conditions had turned the corner. John was very happy with Postcalver Gold and credits it with holding his herd’s Body Condition Score and maintaining peak yield coming from a very difficult spring.

John’s herd fertility performance
He was also very happy with the fertility of his herd with just 6% empty after 12 weeks and felt first and second calvers benefitted hugely from some added care and attention; with Precalver GOLD playing a significant part in this excellent result.

“I was delighted with my herd’s performance in challenging conditions in 2013 and Postcalver GOLD played its part helping me hold my herd’s Body Condition Score, maintain peak yield and achieve a 6% empty rate”

Selenium problem
While PreCalver GOLD contains enough available selenium in 95%+ of cases, John’s land has a significant selenium deficiency issue and over the last number of years he has been forced to give the cows selenium boluses a number of times during the year. While this method was effective, it was expensive and time consuming.

Therefore John was happy to partake in a trial on the new SeleniStart/Selenigrass fertilizer from Gouldings.  He applied four applications during the year with selenium levels in the bloods maintained above optimum levels and selenium levels in his 2013 silages were much higher than in 2012. John will continue to use the cheaper and more convenient SeleniStart/Selenigrass fertilizer option instead of boluses in 2014 while continuing to monitor blood selenium levels.