Proven Results: KEENAN delivering impressive on-farm results

These unprecedented times present new challenges for farmers. Restrictions of farm visits mean that it is harder for farmers to access the support they need to make the best of their production.

But help is still at hand. KEENAN, along with InTouch feeding specialists, continues to work remotely, providing support and on-farm results for customers. In this challenging period, KEENAN is inviting new and existing customers to take part in its Proven Results Programme.

Cork dairy farmer improving efficiency with KEENAN

Sean O’Connor farms in partnership with his father John in Nursetown outside Mallow in Co. Cork. The pair are currently milking 120 Holstein Friesian cows in a spring-calving, grass-based system.

Sean, who worked overseas as an engineer for 10 years, returned home to the family farm in 2014. Since then, cow numbers have doubled. Sean brings a particular commercial focus to the farm and is constantly looking at improving efficiencies in the business.

“We’re always looking to improve the system,” he says. “You want to be making strides every year towards improving your bottom line.”

Sean had been considering purchasing a diet feeder for a number of years, but it was following the 2018 drought that spurred him to make the final decision. Sean, like many other dairy farmers, was aware of the uncertainty that exists year-on-year in farming and looked at diet feeding to provide resilience to his system.

“I was never looking at any other make; the InTouch support had a big influence on why I went with KEENAN,” explains Sean.

There were several reasons why Sean purchased a KEENAN diet feeder, namely to:

  • Increase milk solids production/cow;
  • Reduce metabolic issues at calving and improve cow health;
  • Provide more options for feeding and stretch silage over the winter months.

Knock-on effect

Since purchasing his feeder in the back end of 2018, Sean has been very impressed with the results he has seen on-farm. Working closely with the InTouch nutrition support team, he implemented a dry cow programme for the first time.

While Sean was impressed with the savings he made on silage through incorporating straw in the dry cow diet, he also notes that it had knock-on benefits into 2019.

“Calvings have gotten easier with less retained afterbirths,” Sean says.

Sean also noted that the size of the calves born was a lot more uniform than before, where there was a lot of variation in calf birth size.

“It made me very aware of how important the dry cow diet is,” admits Sean.

Breeding performance improved, and his herd’s calving interval decreased by 10 days, from 378 days to 368 days, average.

However, the most notable benefit of the KEENAN system and following the Proven Results Programme has been the increase in milk solids that Sean’s herd has achieved in the year of working with KEENAN.

His milk reports show that, in 2018, milk solids production/cow stood at 458kg MS/cow. In 2019, this increased by an impressive 61kg MS/cow, to 519kg MS/cow.

Sean’s herd has also seen an increase in feed efficiency with the KEENAN. In 2019, meal fed per cow was 900kg significantly lower than 2018, while still achieving an increase in milk solids.

Speaking on the increase in milk production, Sean said: “We have milk indicators, and you could notice it; cows are milking a lot better earlier in the year. It doesn’t take cows as long to get to their peak. I am delighted with it.”

Co. Tipperary family increase options with KEENAN

Frances Coffey and her family milk 150 high EBI Holstein Friesian cows in a spring–calving, grass-based system in Norwood, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.

Mark McCormack has been employed as a farm manager for the past six years. Following the 2018 drought, Mark and Frances began contemplating the use of a diet feeder on the farm.

L-R: Mark McCormack; Matt Coffey aged 14; and Joe Coffey aged 16, with their KEENAN Approved MF 350

“After the drought, we had to buy in a lot of silage, and we really wanted to have options around feeding this silage and other ingredients in the future,” explains Mark.

In the spring of 2019, Mark and Frances visited the KEENAN factory in Borris, Co. Carlow. Following a visit from their KEENAN regional business manager Melvyn Dowling a few weeks later, they agreed a deal on a KEENAN Approved MechFiber350, fitted with a KEENAN controller to facilitate InTouch feed management support.

Mark and Frances put the machine to work in November 2019. Working with their InTouch feeding specialist Cathal Cassidy, they implemented a dry cow programme on the farm. Mark has been very impressed with the accuracy and consistency provided by the KEENAN controller with the support of InTouch.

“It’s precision; the InTouch is foolproof,” Mark says. “It really takes feeding down to a fine art, and Cathal has been a great help on the diet side of things.”

This year again presented challenges for dairy farmers, with wet weather and poor grazing conditions for most of the spring. The feeder could not have arrived at a better time for Mark.

“It was a huge help this year with the wet spring,” he adds. “We only had about four days at grass in February this year, and the cows were in for half of March too. We were able to reduce the meal being fed in the parlour and give it through the diet feeder. It’s a better job.”

Another area where Mark noticed the benefits was in preventing a drop in protein in early lactation that had happened previously.

“In other years, protein was dropping down to 3.0 and 3.1,” explains Mark. “This year we didn’t see that drop. It never went below 3.3.”

Six months into the Proven Results Programme, the Coffeys are seeing benefits across their system. These focused improvements in dry cow and early–mid-lactation have had a positive effect on milk solids production.

In 2019, the herd produced 548kg MS/cow on one tonne of concentrates. This year, based on figures for milk sold in February, March and April 2020, the Coffeys’ herd are up 16kg MS/cow in these three months. At a value of €4.22 per kg MS, this translates to an increase in milk sales value of €10,128 for the 150-cow herd in the first quarter of the year alone.

“Overall, we’re extremely happy with how things are going. We wouldn’t go without the feeder now,” stated Mark.

Additional information

The KEENAN Proven Results Programme is open to both new and existing customers. To arrange a remote farm assessment with an InTouch feeding specialist and to discuss how KEENAN can help improve your herd’s performance, just click here

  1. Proven Results: KEENAN helping farmers achieve on-farm results