A Co. Cork dairy farmer is improving cow fertility by including a novel feed additive in his cow ration in the post-calving and breeding periods.
Liam O’Connell, of Currabeg, Skibbereen, calves 75% of his spring-calving herd in the first six weeks. He has been building up cow numbers in his Holstein Friesian herd and will this year be milking 65, supplying the milk to the Drinagh co-op.
The farm is stocked at 1 cow/ac with quality pasture and conserved forage central to the herd diet. To maintain grass quality and production, Liam aims to reseed an average of 10% of the farm every year and he includes a 3ac crop of rape in the rotation as feed for his milking cows, producing 4.4% butterfat and 3.65% protein.
A key performance indicator for the business is to get the maximum number of cows and heifers calved within the first six weeks. One of the tools Liam is using to achieve this is the inclusion of Rumen Proof in the cow diet.
Panatec Rumen Proof, a non-antibiotic feed additive developed in cooperation with the National University of Ireland. It is a first of kind novel approach to rumen health improvement using peer reviewed science.
It is now sold in all major EU dairy producing countries and the technology is supported by the 2020 EU Horizon scientific fund.
Liam feeds Rumen Proof from the beginning of March until the end of July. He feeds Rumen Proof once a day in the parlour by sprinkling it onto the concentrates. Feed mills also supply it incorporated into the meal produced in the mill. At the last scanning, only one cow scanned empty.
Improved fertility, says Liam, is due to cows displaying stronger and more noticeable heats.
“Last year we started calving on January 28 and finished on April 23, before using Rumen Proof calving stretched into June,’’ says Liam.
The benefits of the diet change extend beyond fertility. Cows no longer have loose dung when they are introduced to spring grass and there are very few cases of lameness.
“Cows are far healthier, I can see that from the shine on their coats,’’ says Liam.
“It has meant that we have not had a vet on the yard since April 2020.’’