Walford update – a beet idea

95% of the herd was mated in the first three weeks of mating. There is a low level of returns showing for week four. If this continues it will indicate 65%+ conception rate in the first week.

The cows are currently producing an average of 28L/day with 5.10% fat and 3.80% protein or 2.57KgMS/day. They are fed 2.4KgDM of fodder beet, 9Kg of concentrates (at 24% protein), 4KgDM of grass silage and 4.7KgDM of maize silage.

A meeting with fodder beet experts Dr Jim Gibbs and Marc Jones (KWS) has introduced the idea to grow fodder beet again. The plan is to grow some on the milking platform for feeding in situ in the autumn and spring, and growing some off the milking platform for lifting and feeding while the cows are housed.

Feeding the beet in situ as well as lifting it with a beet bucket would lower the protein requirements in the concentrates. Studies have shown that fodder beet can be fed up to 5KgDM per cow in lactation. If Walford fed at this rate they could lower their concentrate levels to 3.5KgDM per day.

Recommendations for Walford farm

  • Continue to monitor non-return rates over the next two weeks.
  • Monitor the hoof health of the teaser bulls to ensure they are fit for work. Don’t let the sweeper bulls put on weight.
  • For the fodder beet idea, there would need to be 3.85ha grown off the milking platform. This would cover 225 cows for 83 days at 3.5KgDM per day working on 20TDM per ha and 85% utilisation.
  • To cover 62 days in the spring and autumn, 2.2ha of fodder beet would need to be planted on the milking platform. As most paddocks are over 3ha in size this would allow for some lifting of beet for the housed period to be undertaken from the milking platform.
  • Upgrade farm tracks to something like concrete sleepers.
  • For 10% of the farm to be reseeded/year, implement a grass to grass reseed. Otherwise the area in grass will be 63ha and will limit the grass availability through the rest of the year.

For more information on Walford College monitor farm or how these practices could be applied to your farm contact Sean Chubb

by Michelle Lamerton
International Marketing Coordinator
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