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The Dairy Edge Podcast Archive

Episode 83

Johnstown Castle farm manager Aidan Lawless joins Emma-Louise Coffey to discuss full lactation performance for the winter milk herd and current milk and grass production.

The winter milk herd have produced 620 kg MS approximately 20 kg ahead of 2017 and 2018 lactations. Aidan credits increased milk yield, rising milk solids and getting out to grass in early January as factors that have driven high milk output.

40% of the winter herd are still milking and will be dried off this week, currently on a restricted diet with the view to depress milk yield. Aidan is extremely happy with fertility performance recording just 8% empty this year.  The spring herd are currently milking 23 litres or 1.8 kg MS, declining from peak of 32 litres.

Grass production was a challenge in July with a substantial soil moisture deficit and growth rates half of projected growth based on the Johnstown Castle average. Heavy rainfall in late July/early August has helped recovery to normal growth.

Finally, Aidan highlights the upcoming Winter Milk event at Johnstown Castle on the 4th September, covering a range of topics from feed management, genetics, fertility to soil fertility.

For more information: National Winter Milk Event

Episode 82

Grassland researcher, Mike Egan, summarises the autumn grazing management guidelines to maximise the amount of grazed grass in the diet of dairy cows in the autumn period.

Right now, farmers should be extending rotation length by 2 days per week and building cover.

Mike gives an insight into a grazing experiment looking at altering grazing management practices in autumn and examining the effects on animal performance and grassland in both the autumn and spring.

Mike explains that where herds are carrying high stocking rates on the milking platform and calving more compactly (reflected in higher 6 week calving rates), they need to consider closing the farm earlier and at a higher cover.

For more information:

Autumn Grazing Management

Effects Of Autumn Grazing Management On Spring Grass Availability (PDF) 

Episode 81

Dairy specialist Joe Patton has advice on creating a fodder reserve to reduce the risk to farm businesses in the event of future adverse weather events.

Firstly, farmers need to quantify the total grass production on their farm. Following this, stocking rate should be calculated allowing 5.5 tonnes of grass should be allowed per cow.

Optimal stocking rate does not account for any surplus or reserve within systems and therefore, a reserve must be purchased. An average reserve of 400 kg DM/cow (2 bales) in areas of low grass growth variability and 600 kg DM/cow (3 bales) in areas of high grass growth.

For more information: Securing A Reserve Of Quality Forage On Dairy Farms (PDF)