Situated near Scarva in County Armagh, Lisrawglen Holsteins consists of 80-pedigree Holstein cows, owned by Ivan and Elaine Williamson.
Ivan and Elaine have recently cut back from three to two times a day milking and their herd currently achieves average yields of 10,000 litres per cow/year. The farm breeds all its own replacements, with calving taking place all year round.
“Our cows are usually turned out in mid March and will come back in, full time, by October,” explained Ivan. “However, during the summer months we will bring the herd back inside during the night. We have a limited grazing platform near the farm, so we bring our cows indoors to make sure that their feed intakes are high enough to maintain good performance.”
Without a diet mixer on their farm, Ivan and Elaine operate a very simple feeding system, which utilises large quantities of high sugar, home-grown silage fed down the barrier.
“Traditionally cows were fed to yield exclusively through computerised in-parlour feeders,” continued Elaine, “but this year, we have also introduced automated out of parlour feeders to help spread the cows’ concentrate intakes throughout the day.”
Ivan and Elaine started using Actisaf on their farm more than a year ago, on the advice of Gareth Gibson, regional technical sales manager for Phileo UK and Ireland.
“We were looking for a way to stabilise the butterfat content of our milk and maintain good digestive function,” said Elaine, “and Gareth suggested that we give Actisaf Farmpack a try. The results were so good that we have carried on using the product to this day.”
“As well as an improvement in butterfat levels, the cows have just generally been performing really well since we started using Actisaf, with good health and fertility and limited incidences of acidosis.”
“We push our cows quite hard, with high concentrate intakes, so it is good to know that Actisaf is in their ration to stablise rumen pH and maintain strong rumen performance.”
Despite the extra cost that that Actisaf adds to their feed bill, Ivan and Elaine believe that it is well worth the expense, even in the current climate of low milk prices.