FINALISTS in the 2017 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup competition have been announced and include two block calving grassland-based herds, two high-production Holstein herds, a Channel Island herd and a grass-based block calving herd milked once-a-day.
The line-up reflects the competition’s new remit, which includes entries from a wider range of management systems and businesses that truly reflect today’s UK dairy sector.
Andrew and Rachel Giles, and their young team of three, run a spring calving herd of 550 cross-bred Friesian cows and 275 young stock. A unit dedicated to dairying, the herd’s average yield is 5,316kg of milk at 4.45 per cent fat and 3.5 per cent protein. Cost control and being technically good are the key factors, with careful soil management and religious monitoring of grass growth. Equally important is breeding the type of cow that can perform well on this system.
Thomas, with parents John and Susan, runs the 270-cow Thurlstone Jersey herd supplying milk to Longley Farms. A small amount is also sold locally through a milk vending machine. Cows on this 163-hectare (403-acre) unit calve in spring and autumn and yield 5,675kg of milk at 5.6 per cent fat and 4 per cent protein.
Around 60 per cent of milk is produced from home-grown forage – mainly grazed grass with grass and maize silage fed in a TMR. Suitable land and limited cubicle housing mean that a proportion of the herd grazes year-round.
James runs the pedigree Bilsrow 260-cow Holstein herd with parents David and Sheila and his wife Eleanor. Current average yield is 11,386kg, at 4.27 per cent fat and 3.126 per cent protein, on twice-a-day milking. They also sell 50 heifers a year and 25 stock bulls. Breeding focuses on health, fertility and lifespan traits and production. Management aims to maximise the potential of the genetics in a natural way that enhances herd longevity, while providing milk and young stock that meets their customers’ requirements.
Brothers Darren and Stuart have increased cow numbers to 400 in 2017 and built a new shed with sand-bedded cubicles to house an extra 150 cows. A high yielding herd, cows average 11,751kg of milk, at 3.81 per cent fat and 3.13 per cent protein, on three-times-a-day milking.
An all-year-round calving herd, the aim is to average 40 litres a day from 400 cows to maximise output per cubicle, on a unit where land is at a premium.
With his wife, daughter and sister-in-law, David manages a spring calving herd of 275 cross-bred Friesian Jersey cows, plus 171 followers, producing 3,850kg of milk and 350kg of milk solids on once-a-day milking. They graze as much grass as possible to help minimise silage requirements. And by measuring and planning grazing carefully the family is set to increase stocking rates and take cow numbers up to 300 next year, without increasing costs. The target is to utilise 85 per cent of grass grown, which in 2016 was 13 tonnes of dry matter per hectare.
Chris and Rich Norman have developed a 600-cow dairy along with a 200,000-bird broiler unit and an anaerobic digester on their 162-hectare family farm. Attention to detail, with an emphasis on staff training, means that the team is well equipped to achieve the best from the Friesian Jersey crossbreds on an autumn block calving and paddock grazing system.
Average milk yields of 5,536kg, at 4.99 per cent fat and 3.70 per cent protein, are combined with a cell count of 97,000cells/ml and a calving interval of 374 days.