Shinagh’s herd scores high on pregnancy and body condition

Shinagh dairy farm at Bandon, Co Cork, is an example of the new farm conversions which, along with existing family farms, could deliver the growth in milk deliveries targeted in the Food Harvest 2020 plan.

In addition to increased productivity, the Food Harvest 2020 plan will require an increase in the size of the national herd from its current 1.1 million to about 1.4 million dairy cows, and milk production rising from 5.1 billion litres (2007 to 2009 average) period, to 7.6 billion litres in 2020.

Shinagh Dairy Farm is a dairy demonstration farm developed at Shinagh estate, Bandon, by the four West Cork co-ops (Bandon, Barryroe, Lisavaird, and Drinagh), Carbery Milk Products Ltd, and Teagasc.

It will be used by the Teagasc national greenfield BETTER farm programme to demonstrate best practice in the conversion of a beef farm to dairying, and the operation of a 200-cow single operator dairy farm with strategic use of casual labour.

The farm of about 80 hectares has been leased for 15 years.

Replacement stock are contract reared off the farm.

In a recent progress report, John McNamara of Teagasc said 2011 was the first year of milk production, with 196 heifers milked, having calved from Jan 24 to Apr 12.

This year there are 197 milking cows on the farm (160 second calvers and 37 heifers).

The farm’s results of the pregnancy scans were good this autumn, with 14 cows not in calf out of 197 cows in the herd (7% not in calf).

One heifer out of 54 breeding heifers was not in calf (2%).

The herd was body condition scored in September, and averaged 2.9.

A weekly report on the farm is available on the website.

The Nov 6 report showed stocking rate at 1.28 cows per hectare, with cows housed when dried off, therefore reducing the stocking rate at grass.

* Growth rate: for last 7 days was 13 kg/DM/Ha. (Previous week’s growth was 12 kg/DM/Ha/day)

* Demand: 21kg/DM/Ha per day; no supplementary feed.

* Feeding: 4kg of a two-way mix of barley and soya hulls plus 4kg (dry matter) of silage was reducing grass demand to 10kg of DM per day.

* Yield: The current yield was 11.24 kgs at 4.54% fat and 4.2% protein (0.98kg of milk solids per cow milking), with SCC at 80,000 and TBC at 12,000.

* Cover: A farm cover is targeted of 700 kg of dry matter per hectare on Jan 23, the planned start of calving. Grazing was scheduled to stop in mid-Nov, leaving 60-70 days to build covers to 100kg per hectare — a growth rate through Dec and Jan of about 2kg per day.


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