Maintaining strong herd performance

Andrew Williams and his wife Elaine have been farming at The Stocks Farm, in Welshampton, for the last fifteen years.

Together, with the help of their son and two fulltime members of staff, they run a 150 strong dairy herd, providing milk to Muller Wiseman on a non-aligned contract. The farm milks twice a day, with average milk yields standing at 10,500 litres/cow, with butterfats at 3.71 per cent, protein at 3.4 per cent and a rolling cell count of 133. The farm rears its own replacements, with calving taking place all year round.

“We look to turn our cows out to grass in mid April,” explained Andrew, “But they always come in at night, largely so that I can keep and eye on them and make sure that they are eating enough.”

During the spring and summer grazing months, cows are buffer fed 5.5 kg/cow of blend in the evening, along with a source of rumen-protected fat, a home grown forage mix and 350g of Bespoke Minerals supplied by HJ Lea Oakes. These minerals also contain Actisaf live yeast, which was recommended by HJ Lea Oakes adviser, Philip Jackson, to help reduce the risk of acidosis, improve rumen performance and promote improved feed efficiency.

“The cows are receiving the recommended level of Actisaf through the mineral supplement,” continued Andrew. “We also feed the cows dairy nuts from HJ Lea Oakes in the parlour to help further promote improved performance.”

Cows come indoors full-time from October onwards and are fed lucerne and a 60:40 split of grass and maize silage. Whole crop wheat is fed to plug the gap between maize harvesting and to allow time for fermentation in the clamp, with maize silage usually ready for consumption in December.

“We feed our cows a lot,” stated Andrew, “but they are comfortable and producing decent yields, so we are happy to carry on doing so. The addition of Actisaf seems to work well and ensure that rumen performance is stable and working as effectively as possible, despite high intakes.”

Andrew grows all of his own forage on which the farm is very dependent and, whilst quality inevitably differs year on year, Andrew is confident that the impact of any variation can be minimised.

“By having a product like Actisaf in my feed, it gives me peace of mind,” he explained. “If there is variation in sources of forage and silage, I know that the rumen function of my cows is being stablised so that they can cope with any inconsistency in the diet.”

Overall, Andrew is happy with the performance of his herd and is wary of changing anything nutritionally that may alter this.

“If a product is working well, then I will keep using it,” he concluded. “Across the board, herd health, performance and fertility is doing well and I think that Actisaf plays its part with helping all of these things. It’s good value for money and provides a good return on investment.”


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