UCD’s new dairy herd will show how to maximise output when land is limited

The new demonstration dairy herd at UCD’s Lyons Estate will look at expansion when it is not possible to extend the grazing platform, according to UCD’s Dr Karna Pierce.

Speaking at a recent discussion group farm walk on the UCD research farm in Co. Kildare, the Dairy Lecturer said that every dairy farmer is thinking of expansion is some shape or form.

According to Dr Pierce, this herd will show how output can be maximised by increasing stocking rate, milk solids production and milk yield from genetically elite animals.

However, she added that this will not be a TMR (total mixed ration) herd and grazed grass and grass silage will play a big part in the nutrition of the cows.

“Grass is very much to the core of this herd, it is not a TMR herd, we are aiming to maximise the grass proportion of the diet.

“Grass will remain important to the herd, in a lot of cases, it happens that concentrates are used as a crutch to replace bad grassland management.”

However, despite the relatively high grass proportion of the diet, this trial is quite unique as the cows will be fed highs of 8kg of concentrates in early lactation.

This front-loading of the concentrate input will push on the dairy cows production in early lactation, said Dr Pierce.

daysinmilk

Demonstration cows diet (DM basis)

  • 3.6t of grazed grass
  • 1.5t of silage
  • 1.3t of concentrates

According to Dr Pierce, the new herd will be operated as a separate farmlet, with an aim to have 60 genetically elite animals milking at UCD’s new dairy facility.

The totally spring calving herd will have a stocking rate of 3.4LU/ha and the desired animals will have an EBI of €220 or greater.

These animals should also have the potential to produce 8,000L of milk and 625kg of milk solids, said Dr Pierce.

To date, there are 47 of the planned 60 cows present on the farm, but she added that it was quite difficult to locate the correct animals due to strict selection criteria placed on milk and fertility sub-indexes under the EBI.

When the selection first started animals had to have an EBI value of €112 for milk and €90 for fertility, but Dr Pierce added that the sub-indexes have since been changed to €72 and €90 respectively.

Demonstration herd facts

  • Stocking rate – 3.4LU/ha
  • Farmlet area – 17ha
  • Production aims – 8,000L/cow and 625kg/cow milk solids
  • Concentrate input (fresh) – 1.5t/cow 
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