BGS, RABDF, DairyCo farm walk – Mat Boley

BGS, RABDF, DairyCo farm walk – Mat Boley

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The farm walk at Mat Boley's on March 30th attracted 240 visitors, who braved the cold wind and rain to find out how Mat has evolved the way his dairy herd is managed over the last 10 years.

He explained how no concentrates had been fed for nine years, with his focus on grazed grass and whole-crop or grass silage used to fill any gaps. This spring had been very challenging with cows calving over nine weeks from late February. Grass growth rates at our visit had only reached a very low 10kg DM/ha this year.

Mat was therefore offering the first 170 cows out of the parlour whole crop before they went out to grass, with the rest getting out to the grass paddock for the best pickings, before being joined by the others. He had no facilities to feed concentrate and was still not tempted to do so.

Cows have only milked once a day for the whole lactation for the last three years and Mat reported many valuable benefits in cow health and fertility.

In the three years before going once-a-day milking, replacement rate was 23%, and 12% of cows were empty after 12 weeks of service. Over the last three years that had improved to a 17% replacement rate, with opportunity to selectively cull low producing cows, and 8% empty after just nine weeks of breeding.

"I am hoping to get calving down to 8 weeks," Mat said. "It makes for a very busy month, but it's good to get it out of the way and the rest of the year runs smoothly."

Milking once a day also allowed him more time off at weekends to spend with his young family.

More from the farm walk will be reported in the next issue of BGS Grass and Forage Farmer.





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