Cows are milked twice a day in a 16 x 16 herringbone parlour; individually they produce approximately 9,500 litres each year.
Our milk is sold to Dairy Crest on a liquid milk contract. The base price is subject to 3.75% butterfat, 3% protein and Farm Assured Status. Bonuses are achieved for hygiene and quality; we also attract other payments for recognition of our membership of Dairy Crest Direct, with a further bonus paid on an annual basis for the first 245,200 litres sold as a White Gold member.
Our winter accommodation consists of cubicle housing for up to 90 cows plus loose straw housing.
Although we aim to gain the maximum use of grazed and conserved grass, we recognise the need for supplementary feeding to maintain cow condition and to keep yields at a reasonable level. We use a Keenan Mech Fibre Feed Wagon fitted with a PACE (Performance Accelerated Conversion Efficiency) monitoring system to help give a controlled consistent mixed ration. Diets are formulated with advice from our Nutritionist. The total mixed ration is mainly based on grass and maize silage, straw, minerals and a blend consisting of rape and soya meal, beet pulp and rolled wheat. Parlour feeding of concentrates is predominantly aimed at higher yielding animals, although smaller amounts are used to entice the animals into the parlour.
We use National Milk Records (NMR) to monitor herd performance, as well as Interherd and Kingshay costings to provide data for both students and for the efficient management of the herd.
We welcome the Royal Veterinary College with their students who are studying the herd for both practical and theory knowledge transfer.
Over the last few years we have been presented with awards in recognition of four cows having individually achieved successful life time yields of over 100 tonnes (100,000 litres, over 220,000 pints).
Students are involved with the milking, heat detection, hoof trimming and routine tasks such as feeding, yard scraping and bedding.
Although we calve for most of the year , our main emphasis is towards late summer/autumn calving.
Our breeding targets and objectives include;
- To produce good productive and long living cows.
- Aiming for each cow to achieve at least 50 tonnes of milk and 5 calves in her lifetime.
- Cows must have good legs and feet
- Great locomotion
- Good functional udder with suitable attachment.
- Correct teat placement.
- Efficient level of production with good cell counts and temperament
- To be a plus on both fat and protein percentages
- To produce a heifer calf crop of 30+ animals
Targets for heifer replacements this year are to synchronize the 16 biggest bulling heifers and to serve them with sexed semen. Any repeats will be artificially inseminated before being introduced to our home bred Aberdeen Angus Bull.
Target serving dates for this season are;
- Start serving 23/09/13
- Sweeper Bull in 16/11/13
- Sweeper Bull out 10/03/13
We have chosen dairy bulls to breed replacements that are not too extreme. We need animals to be medium sized and able to carry some body condition; or recover body condition quickly after peak yield. We feel this is one of the most crucial factors in obtaining good fertility. All chosen bulls are improvers on lifespan and cell count as well as health and management traits.
Bulls selected for this season
- Deangate Tarquin – combining high production with good conformation and improving daughter fertility.
- Deangate Quentin – combining high fat and protein percentages with very good conformation and improving daughter fertility with excellent legs and feet. He is a calving ease sire that can also be used on heifers.
- Winnoch Umpire – an outstanding all round sire with very high milk production. Very good daughter fertility and very low cell counts. A good choice for improving legs and feet, strong udder and good teat placement.
- JZM Goldenboy (use on heifers) – Strength and easy calving with high daughter fertility. He transmits outstanding milk quality.
- AL. Par. Shottle Nefas (Sexed use on heifers) – Great calving ease, daughter fertility, cell counts and
The replacement dairy heifers and young beef animals are reared at our Stinsford Calf Unit.
Batches of 5 calves are fed artificial milk replacer, until weaning at about 5-6 weeks of age.
Friesian bull calves are reared until 8 to 10 months old and then sold either to local farmers or through Frome Livestock Market.
Dairy heifers are fed to achieve a weight of 350kg at 12-14 months. They are then ready for service and should calve at about 2 years of age.
Students are involved with feeding, vaccination programmes, weighing, worming, disbudding and castration. The calves also provide students with practical training for a wide range of qualifications.