Cows are achieving yields of 7,000 litres, with the herd milked twice a day and turned out to fresh pasture after every milking.
The enterprise aims to maximise it’s use of grazing, with cows being turned out as early as February if conditions allow. The herd is split into two calving blocks, with those due to calve in autumn being housed from October and the rest of the herd staying out until December.
Housed cows are fed a mixture of whole crop and grass silage, which Robin specially layers in the farm clamp.
“I like to layer my silage along the whole length of the clamp from the bottom up,” explained Robin, “adding a new layer of forage material as and when it is harvested. This may cause a few headaches for contractors, but it means that every load of silage taken from the face of the clamp has a balanced mixture of different grass cuts and maize silage.”
Six months ago, at the suggestion of HJ Lea Oakes adviser, Philip Jackson, Robin changed his concentrate feed to ActiGraze, which includes Actisaf live yeast.
“Whilst we want to make the most from forage,” continued Robin, “we don’t compromise on cow health and always make sure that they are getting enough extra feed to ensure good performance.”
Milking cows are now fed in parlour at a flat rate of 5kg of ActiGraze/head/day, with a slight reduction in the amount fed if grazing conditions are really good.
“The new compound was suggested to complement the grazing system we have at Hungerford Farm,” explained Robin. “We had previously been using another product, which didn’t contain Actisaf, but we hadn’t been getting as good results.”
“ActiGraze dairy feed is especially formulated to balance grazing, and the inclusion of Actisaf live yeast helps improve rumen performance, reducing acidosis and optimising dry matter intakes,” explained Philip from HJ Lea Oakes.
And it certainly seems to work for Robin. Since changing to the new feed, cow performance has been phenomenal. Dung is much more consistent, feed intakes have increased and fertility has really improved, while milk quality has averaged a respectable 3.91% butterfat and 3.52% protein.
“I am glad I made the switch to ActiGraze,” he concluded. “It isn’t the cheapest feed around, but the benefits that it has brought mean that herd performance has improved and we are getting a good return on our investment, which is great news.”