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Johnstown Castle Winter Milk Trials - November update

At Teagasc Johnstown Castle dairy unit in Wexford, the main focus is on investigating winter milk systems. Aidan Lawless, Farm Manager and Joe Patton, Dairy Specialist give a November update on the two Autumn herds.

For trial purposes we are comparing two 100% autumn herds stocked at 2.75 & 4.0 LU/ha.

Our "extensive" system is stocked at 2.75 LU/ha on grazing platform with a target to be self-sufficient, making all winter forage of the block, with all concentrate fed been home-grown where possible.

Our Intensive system is stocked at 4 LU/ha on the grazing platform, with a target to conserve ~30% of winter forage requirements, with the balance being purchased in. No restriction on concentrate type used - selecting whatever is best value for price.

Herd EBI is €175 and calving in the autumn starts on 20th Sept, with a mean calving date on 10th Oct. At present 90% of the autumn herd is calved with the remainder due in next two weeks (11 week breeding season). Cows will be approaching peak yield in the next couple of weeks (~30L/cow at 4.2% Fat and 3.45% protein). The grassland and animal performance from both treatments is summarised in the table below.

Events per paddock is lower on 2.75 stocking rate as silage ground is included along with grazing. Heavy rainfall (>97mm since Nov 1st) has led to poor grazing conditions and both treatments housed earlier than planned.

To find out more about the Johnstown Castle Dairy Unit and the Winter Milk trials visit  https://www.teagasc.ie/animals/dairy/research-farms/johnstown-castle/