How this Cork farmer focuses on increasing milk yield while reducing his workload

John Shanahan, his wife Anne and son Jack farm with a pedigree Holstein herd in Ballintotis, Midleton, Co. Cork, with 100 cows on a 60ac grazing platform. This is very much a family enterprise with Anne and Jack being hands-on with their spring and autumn-calving herd.

For two and a half years, John Shanahan has been using the high protein and high energy feed Eornagold from Specialist Nutrition for his pedigree Holstein cows.

John, to his own surprise, saw an immediate change in his milk yields as well as an increase in daily intakes, improved fertility and a reduction in workload.

Unlocking animal potential

When Eornagold was introduced into the diet, John saw an immediate increase in milk yield. Over time, this has solidified into an increase of 3L/head/day over the last couple of years.

The increase in milk yield is linked to the high-energy content and protein density of the feed. As Eornagold is a moist feed, it will make the overall substrate of the mix wetter, thus increasing consumption.

It is also highly palatable and, as John says himself, “the cows just love it”. These key characteristics of Eornagold increase dry matter intakes and enhance production.

The Shanahan family of John, Jack and Anne began using Eornagold moist feed on their farm over two years ago and haven’t looked back

Rachel McCarthy, a nutritionist with Specialist Nutrition, observed: “Milk recording on John’s farm very clearly shows how the improved yield and milk solids are bolstering the overall success of the farm.

“Milk solids have gone from 548kg in 2016 to 588kg in 2018. Milk volume has improved from 7,605L in 2016 to 8,679L in 2018. This very clearly shows the obvious benefits of Eornagold in buffer feeding.”

Unlocking farm potential

In previous years, John fed a mix of maize silage, fodder beet and grass silage along with a high protein blend to balance the diet.

For John and the family, there was a lot of work involved in handling and feeding the beet. John wanted to reduce wear and tear on machinery and reduce the time spent in preparing and feeding out the buffer feed.

Eornagold was recommended to him by a neighbour, and once he experienced the ease of storage and incorporation into the feed mix, he was converted. John also wanted to reduce costs on farm and Eornagold offered a more cost-effective way of incorporating protein in the diet.

Improvement in fertility

Prior to feeding Eornagold, John had an empty rate of 20% in the herd. What he noticed since using Eornagold is the empty rate has now dropped to 14%.

John maintains that the extra protein and energy that Eornagold provides post-calving is vital to the cow. It plays a major part in meeting the increasing energy demands of the cow, following the onset of lactation and ensures she will be back in calf quickly.

What’s in the diet?

At the moment, John is buffer feeding 5kg of Eornagold, 15kg of grass silage and 0.33kg of straw. John also feeds 2-4kg of 18% nut in the parlour, depending on the stage of lactation.

This diet is being used to buffer feed at autumn grass. Rachel added: “I would describe this as a straight-forward diet but you can see how effective it is in the results achieved on the farm since its introduction.”

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More information

Specialist Nutrition is an experienced animal feeds company, supplying a comprehensive range of high-quality feeds and supplements to progressive dairy, beef and pig farmers.

Specialist Nutrition has an experienced nutritional team who are available to advise you on your diet specification and the storage of moist and liquid feeds.

Its growing product range reflects the increasing requirement for high-performance nutrition products for farmers.

Not content to settle with the norm, Specialist Nutrition’s latest campaign is called “The Unlock Challenge”; it is inviting farmers around the country to do the same in order to uncover what works for their farm.

Farmers can follow the campaign by finding Specialist Nutrition on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SpecialistNutri. If you would like more information, or have a nutritionists come to your farm, please contact Specialist Nutrition on: +353 51 833071.