How this Tipperary-based farmer is maximising his milk yield this autumn

The main aim on farm during autumn should be to maximise grass utilisation, while supplementing the herd with the correct feed during late lactation; and also starting to plan ahead with grassland management.

Richie Horan is farming just outside Drangan, Co. Tipperary, and is milking a herd of 80 Holstein-Friesian cows.

Richie is a Glanbia milk supplier and is operating a spring-calving, grass-based system. The milking platform consists of 30ha, with an outside block being used for silage and rearing young stock.

“I try to run a simple system here so that I can get away easily. My daughters are involved in Irish dancing and I have traveled all over the world with them to compete,” said Richie.

Like many dairy farmers, this year for the Tipperary farmer has been a very successful year by all accounts.

“This year you could say has been a perfect year. The cows are currently yielding 25.5L/cow/day at 3.72% protein and 4.12% fat; so they are running just over 2kg of MS/cow/day,” explained Richie.

Farm performance

Commenting on the performance of the herd, he said: “Last year, the average yield was 7,756L/cow and 606kg of MS/cow; this was at 4.17% fat and 3.51% protein.

“The year has been going very well. In terms of milk production, we are slightly ahead of this time last year – with less meal being fed.

“Currently, the cows are getting 5kg/cow/day – in the parlour – of the GAIN Autumn Extender Nut.

“It’s a great nut and I am very happy with it; the cows are milking very well and the protein is good. It seems to be doing what it should be anyways,” expressed Richie.

GAIN Autumn Extender Nut is specifically designed to help you extend late lactation dairy cow performance into the autumn.

GAIN Autumn Extender Nut (16% crude protein) is suitable for cows at grass. Derived from a high level of digestible fibre and a balanced level of starch, aiding rumen fermentation, GAIN Autumn Extender also includes the feed additive Agolin.

GAIN business manager, John Dalton, who works closely with Richie Horan, states that “Agolin has been proven to increase milk protein yield and diet efficiency; while also increasing milk yield”.

2019 breeding season

Commenting on the breeding season, he said: “The breeding season couldn’t have gone better. Submission rates were good and I expect scan results will reflect this.

“I completed an early eight-week scan and the results were good. I’m not seeing many repeats, so I hope the final scan will be good too.

“I scanned the heifers after eight weeks as well, and there was only one heifer not in calf; but by now she should be,” Richie outlined.

Touching on his breeding strategy for the herd, he said: “I used to pick high-EBI Holstein-Friesian genetics, but I have switched the breeding to triple A – which I have been doing for the last three years.

“Basically, a man comes out to analyse your cows and they are then given a number – which ranges from one to six. They are really assessed on their physical attributes. From this number, you can then pick your bulls,” explained Richie.

Grass production

Richie runs a grass-based production system. He is not actively measuring grass, but his aim is to consistently go into covers of approximately 1,500kg of DM/ha.

“It has been a fantastic year for grass growth. I have had loads of grass through the year and I have no shortage of fodder for this winter.”

Richie is currently stocked at 2.7 cows/ha. Building grass this autumn has been very easy for him due to the high growth rates and from the inclusion of the GAIN Autumn Extender Nut in his herd’s daily diet.

I believe I am on target for the end of the year. I have been using the GAIN Autumn Extender Nut to reduce my demand so I can build grass.

“I will start closing paddocks from October 10, and I will try and keep grass in the system for as long as I can after that,” explained Richie.

Technical support

Richie has built a very strong relationship with John Dalton.”I get on very well with John. He is a great lad in fairness to him.

“Last year, with the way the year went, a lot of feed had to be purchased, and in fairness to him he has never let me down.

“He always has good advice for me and we always have a bit of banter about the hurling because he is a Kilkenny man,” joked Richie.

More information

For more information please contact your local GAIN business manager, Glanbia branch or click here to visit the website.