Open day and video: Liquid feeds increasing milk production by 20%

Maintaining milk output throughout the winter, balancing the herd’s diet into the spring and controlling feed costs; these were the key challenges that dairy farmer James Nally wanted to overcome.

Faced with the prospect of growing a profitable dairy business post quota, but in a variable milk price era, James worked with Specialist Nutrition to secure an alternative source of feed that would deliver on the potential he knew existed in his farming enterprise.

Farming in Glasson, outside Athlone, James has grown his British Friesian herd from 100 to 200 cows. He also has 60 replacement heifers and 120 beef cattle, which he sells as weanlings, on his farm.

Outside of this, he runs Manitech Loader Ltd – the main dealer for Manitech loading shovels. This keeps James busy and, as a result, he needs to operate his farm efficiently in order to maximise his time across the two businesses.

In 2013, James worked with Specialist Nutrition to incorporate liquid feeds into his herd’s diet in an effort to increase intakes and production throughout the winter period.

James explained: “With the help of Specialist Nutrition, we worked to achieve a balanced diet throughout the year and we’ve been rewarded well in terms of production and general health of our animals.”

Open day

James will host a farm open day, in conjunction with Specialist Nutrition, on April 26; it’s set to start at 11:00am. To learn more, just Click here

Unlocking animal potential

Using only baled silage, which can be variable in quality, James struggled to maintain a consistent diet and the impact on milk output was noticeable.

To address this, and in an effort to maximise production while controlling costs throughout the winter milking period, James introduced Eornasyrup into his herd’s diet.

Eornasyrup is a highly-palatable feed, which is favourable when dealing with variable-quality silage bales. This, along with the fact that it is high in protein, provides a very digestible feed, which compliments James’ low-protein grass silage.

As a result, James has been able to maintain his milk quality, without having to supplement his feeding programme with expensive feeds; all while growing milk yield substantially from 5,000L to 6,000L.

James added: “Before I started to work with Specialist Nutrition, I was not getting the milk production I knew I could achieve. While trying to maintain the herd’s body condition, my system had become too reliant on course rations fed through the diet feeder and nuts fed through the milking parlour.

“This was costly and was eating into margin; especially during poorer milk price years,” James explained.

Since introducing Eornasyrup, I’ve seen a reduction in body condition fluctuations, along with an increase in milk production.

In the winter of 2017/2018, James also started adding Vistacell AB yeast to his herd’s diet in order to address ruminal acidosis issues in his milking cows. These issues were identified by nutritionist Nigel Condell.

This was evident through the presence of ‘cud balls’ in the cubicles, along with very loose cow dung, and a depression of butterfat content.

Vistacell AB yeast was introduced at a rate of 100g/cow/day. As a result, James has seen an increase of milk protein from 3.35% to 3.54%, while butterfat has increased from 4.5% to 4.7%.

As focus turns to grass utilisation during the spring period, Eornasyrup has been replaced in the diet by Liquigold as a complimentary feed to high-protein, low dry matter, spring grass.

Nigel Condell, nutritionist from Specialist Nutrition, explained: “Liquigold is a highly-palatable, energy-dense feed that is ideal as part of a buffer feed to compliment a grass-based system.

“By helping to ensure cows eat their energy requirements, it also plays an important role in reducing body condition loss after calving. It fits perfectly into James’ feeding programme; particularly coming out of a winter indoor feeding system.”

James added: “The cows just love it. It’s like putting sugar on porridge for them.”

Milkivit

In addition, during the spring of 2018, James started using Milkivit Premium milk replacer to rear his calves. He favoured this milk replacer; he felt the added health benefits, due to the presence of vitamin E to help prevent calf scour, would save him both time and money.

Milkivit Premium’s unique mothering smell also resulted in a very smooth transition from whole milk to milk replacer for James’ calves.

The results

During his time working with Specialist Nutrition, James has seen a significant increase in milk solids. He has also had fewer lameness issues, meaning cows last longer in the herd. In addition, fluctuations in body condition scores have been reduced.

James explained: “Since working with Specialist Nutrition, I’ve experienced huge improvements in milk production and cow fertility.

“I credit this to the balanced diet I’ve been able to achieve across all seasons. Liquid feeds, in particular, have allowed me to get the most out of the cows I have, while complimenting my grazing system. I’m very happy with the results.”

Spring buffer feed – out by day:
  • Grass silage – 21kg;
  • Liquigold – 1kg;
  • Blend – 2kg;
  • Parlour mix – 2.5kg;
  • Straw – 0.8kg;
  • Yeast – 0.08kg.

Buffer feed – out full time:
  • Grass silage – 5kg;
  • Liquigold – 1kg;
  • Blend – 1kg;
  • Parlour mix – 2kg;
  • Straw – 1kg;
  • Yeast – 0.08kg.

Unlocking farmer potential

In order to build a sustainable business and manage risks to his farm output and profitability, James knew he needed a reliable, alternative source of feed that complimented his grass-based system.

By investing in a second-hand tank for liquid storage and using liquid feeds throughout the year, James has been able to achieve this.

Tank costs were quickly re-cooped through a 20% increase in milk output and a 5% reduction in winter feed costs.

This approach has enabled James to grow his farming enterprise in a profitable and sustainable way. It has given him a reliable feeding programme; even when faced with the challenges of variable land and weather conditions.

James concluded: “Introducing liquid feeds into my diet has really revolutionised my feeding programme.

“After an initial investment in the tank, I’ve quickly been rewarded with more money in my pocket at the end of the year and the peace of mind in knowing I have a reliable source of feed to balance my animals’ diet.”

More information

Specialist Nutrition – in partnership with Biotal, Vistacell and Milkavit – will host three dairy farm open days around the country.

If you would like to attend, email: [email protected] or call Ellenor at: 051-833071. To learn more about these events Click here

About Specialist Nutrition

Specialist Nutrition is a leading supplier of alternative moist and liquid feed products, along with offering a range of complimentary nutritional products. With these products and Specialist Nutrition’s expert advice, the company helps farmers around the country to unlock their true farm potential.