Video and open day: Milk yield up by 8% on this Co. Cork dairy farm using Eornagold

Farming in Dripsey, Co.Cork, Dan and Bernie Crowley have a high yielding pedigree herd, with a heavily stocked grazing platform of over 4LU/ha (livestock units / hectare).

Faced with the challenges of managing an indoor winter-feeding system and a need to supplement their grass-based system, at key times during the remainder of the year, the Crowleys began to work with Specialist Nutrition in early 2013 by incorporating Eornagold, a co-product from the distilling industry, into their diet.

Since that time, their milk yield has increased by more than 8%, while milk solids have grown by over 13%.

Unlocking animal potential

Running a busy farm of over 470 livestock units, including 200 dairy cows and 40 pedigree breeding bulls, means the Crowleys need a reliable source of feed that enables them to get the most out of their high potential animals.

Working with Pat Coakley from Specialist Nutrition, they re-balanced the herd’s diet with an emphasis on increasing animal intakes to unlock their full potential; a new total mix ration (TMR) diet for the winter period was developed.

Winter buffer feed diet:
  • Grass silage;
  • Maize silage;
  • Fodder beet;
  • Eornagold mix, including soya hulls;
  • Barley and maize meal;
  • Soya bean meal;
  • Vistacell AB rumen enhancer;
  • Minerals.

“Since I started dealing with Specialist Nutrition, I’ve seen an increase in milk production, while at the same time my cows health has been maintained and there’s been a great improvement in the condition of my pedigree bulls. I couldn’t be happier with the impact it has had,” Dan explained.

Eornagold is a co-product from the distillery industry. It is highly palatable in nature and is an excellent source of high-quality protein, along with providing good energy density.

By introducing this product, the Crowleys have been able to increase animal intakes, with the additional benefit of reduced sorting at the head-feed – resulting in increased milk output and quality.

Dan also outlined how they use Eornagold to ensure a year-round consistent diet. He said: “Our winter diet is based around Eornagold and silage as the main protein source; we pit in the summer to ensure a supply for this busy period.

For the remainder of the year we hold a supply of Eornagold, mixed with soya hulls and use this as part of a buffer feed to maintain production levels and cow condition when required.

Speaking about Eornagold’s role in the diet, Pat Coakley from Specialist Nutrition said: “Dan has included Eornagold in his herd’s diet at key time periods throughout the year, with an emphasis on increasing energy density over the winter period, driving up intake levels of fresh calvers in spring and improving overall cow condition.

“Ultimately Dan wanted to see more milk in the tank and the result speaks for itself,” Pat added.

In addition, rumen enhancer Vistacell AB was incorporated into the herd’s diet in late 2013, with the goal of improving overall rumen efficiency.

In this product, Acid Buffer is combined with Vistacell yeast to increase fibre digesting bacteria in order to make the rumen more efficient.

Speaking about the inclusion of this nutritional product, Dan said: “There was an immediate noticeable difference in the consistency of the dung in all the animals; they are thriving on it.”

Unlocking land potential

As with most farms, land is a limiting factor for the Crowleys and they face an ongoing challenge to unlock their farms full potential on a grazing platform of 120ac, while maintaining a very high stocking rate.

However, using Eornagold, the Crowleys have been able to utilise their land better at the shoulders of the year. This has ensured their land isn’t overgrazed and yearly output from grass is maximised using a careful grassland management approach.

Dan explained: “To maintain grass regrowth and get the most out of our land, it’s crucial for us that we keep our land in good condition. This is particularly important at the shoulders of the year.

As we’ve all experienced this year, you need a system in place that ensures you’re not forced to put animals out on wet land that could cause long-term damage. Eornagold allows us to carefully manage this.

Unlocking farmer potential

Sitting high above the banks of the River Lee, the Crowleys farm is prone to drought from time to time. This poses a serious risk to their business and is something that they have been keen to manage.

By incorporating Eornagold into their diet they have insulated their business from any potential impact a bad weather period or poor silage quality may have. This, coupled with reducing their overall feeding costs, gives the Crowley’s confidence in their long-term business viability.

“We run a busy farm unit, so I need to have a system in place that’s reliable and runs smoothly. Every business or farm carries risk and Eornagold is part of my insurance policy in managing the risks associated with maintaining a productive and profitable system,” Dan explained.

He addded: “Since using Eornagold I’ve seen positive results in the milking parlour, with overall feeding costs reduced.”

Open day

The Crowley’s will be hosting a farm open day in conjunction with Specialist Nutrition on April 19 starting at 11:00am.

Specialist Nutrition, in partnership with Biotal, Vistacell and Milkavit, will be hosting a total of three dairy farm open days around the country.

If you would like to attend or would like more information about Specialist Nutrition, email the team at: [email protected] or call Ellenor at: 051 833 071 or Click here

More information

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 their expert nutritional advice, Specialist Nutrition help farmers around the country to unlock their true farm potential.