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Curtins Farm

Curtins Farm Update: 25th September 2017 (pdf)

Sustainable farming systems research designed to maximise feed production and quality, and conversion to milk fat plus protein sales from within environmentally and animal friendly systems and resulting in €2,500 net farm profitability per hectare per year.

Farm Manager: Shane Leane   Researcher: Brendan Horan 

History: Purchased as a 29ha block for systems research in 1965.

Location: Latitude 50°07’N, Longitude 08°16’W

Area: 48 ha (effective)

Milking Cows: 140 (subject to scientific requirements)

System: Spring calving dairy herd. Typically cows are turned out to pasture directly post-calving and annually achieve a 300-day grazing season. All male calves are sold at 2 weeks old while the heifer calves are reared off farm.

Soil Type: Free-draining acid brown earth of sandy loam to loam in texture

Paddocks: 106 (18 paddocks per treatment)

Dairy Infrastructure:

  • 18 unit herringbone parlour with automatic cow ID, automatic cluster removers, daily electronic milk weighting and sampling, in parlour feeding, milking behaviour recording, weighting and drafting facilities
  • 147 cow winter housing shed
  • 3 underpass tunnels connecting the farm into one complete block
  • 858,000 litres over ground slurry storage.

Farm Map

The animals used in this experiment consist of two different breeds, Holstein Friesian and Jersey x Holstein Friesian. The experiment examines three alternative autumn & spring feed budgets x 2 grazing intensities, resulting in 6 treatment groups of 20 cows per group. Animals are randomly assigned to one of three alternative autumn spring pasture-based systems differing in overall peak feed supply (Low -1,000 kg DM/ha), Medium- 1,200 kg DM/ha and High – 1,400 kg DM/ha) established based on alternate autumn rotation lengths. To each feed supply system, 2 grazing intensities (lax – 4.5 cm post grazing residual and severe -3.5cm grazing residual) will be applied for the duration of the autumn and spring. 

EBI
(€)

Milk SI
(€)

Fertility SI
(€)

Calving SI
(€)

Health SI
(€)

Beef SI
(€)

Maintenance SI  (€)

Management SI (€)

138

38

55

38

1

-20

26

2

Mean Calving Date: 23-Feb

First Lactation Cows: 36

Sires of Cows: ABT, CWJ, EKE, GUV, GXY, HFL, MJS, OKM, PKU, SOK,

 

The current experiment will assess the biological efficiency of six grass-based systems of milk production in terms of overall animal productivity and pasture growth, utilisation and quality. The experiment examines three alternative autumn spring feed budgets x 2 grazing intensities, resulting in 6 treatment groups of 20 cows per group. Animals will be randomly assigned to one of three alternative autumn spring pasture-based systems differing in overall peak feed supply (Low -1,000 kg DM/ha), Medium- 1,200 kg DM/ha and High – 1,400 kg DM/ha) established based on alternate autumn rotation lengths. To each feed supply system, 2 grazing intensities (lax – 4.5 cm post grazing residual and severe -3.5cm grazing residual) will be applied for the duration of the autumn and spring.

Objectives

  • To quantify the impact of alternate pasture-based production systems differing in autumn & spring feed budget strategies in terms of grazing season length, supplementary feed requirements and animal performance within high stocking rate grazing systems. 
  • To establish the immediate and carryover sward effects of alternative autumn spring grazing strategies and the interaction between grass supply management and grazing intensity within spring calving grazing systems

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