Actisaf boosts herd performance

“I only retain the best young cows in my herd that perform well in terms of milk production, efficiency and calving. I want to ensure that I am getting the best returns from everything I put into a cow.”
    Drumshanny Farm is located close to the county town of Monaghan and is home to Trevor and Lynne Williamson’s red and white holstein dairy herd.
    “I always aim to get the herd out as soon as I can to make the most of spring grazing and our established paddock system,” continues Trevor. “However, whilst we want to make the most of grass, we still supplement with concentrates to ensure good performance, long term health and optimum condition for calving.”

    During the winter, cows are fed home- grown grass silage, supplemented with 8-9 kg/cow of concentrate in parlour. In the spring/summer months when grazing is plentiful, this drops to around 6 kg.

    “I keep all the cows on the farm young, with the majority of the milking herd being no older than third calvers,” continues Trevor. “I calve approximately 100 cows a year, of which 40 are heifers. Of these, I will keep 30 of the best as replacements and then sell on all of the surplus cows and heifers.

    “I only retain the best young cows in my herd that perform well in terms of milk production, efficiency and calving. I want to ensure that I am getting the best returns from everything I put into a cow.”

    Trevor started using Actisaf live yeast two years ago, after noticing a drop in butterfat levels during the summer.

    “When butterfat levels suddenly dropped off, I consulted with Gareth Gibson from Phileo and Leslie Quinn from Corby Rock Mill, and they both suggested that I give Actisaf a go to help stabilise rumen health and improve rumen efficiency,” explains Trevor. “Even though all the cows appeared healthy, looking back, there must have been some underlying problems with acidosis, because as soon as I introduced Actisaf the butterfat levels lifted back up.”

    Actisaf is now supplied to Trevor through Corby Rock Mill and incorporated into concentrate feed at a rate of 1 kg/tonne.

    “I’ve also noticed reduced incidence of twisted gut [displaced abomasum] since I’ve been using Actisaf,” said Trevor. “Previously we were seeing three to five operations a year, and since using Actisaf, we haven’t had any, which has saved me a lot in lost revenue.”

    In 2015 Trevor’s herd achieved the best calving interval level in the local Breffni Oriel Holstein Friesian Club, having dropped from 416 in 2013 to record figures of 366. “Dropping our calving interval by so much has been good news for us and I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the interval has fallen over the period of time that I have started using Actisaf and seen the other benefits to cow performance,” explains Trevor.

    Overall, Trevor is happy with the improvement that Actisaf live yeast is making to his herd and thinks that it offers a good return on investment, despite the current low milk prices.

    Trevor’s dairy enterprise has been disrupted this summer with some animals recently testing positive for TB, but he usually milks 60 cows with around 100 followers, run across 185 acres, with one third of the herd calved in autumn and the remainder during springtime. Cows are milked twice a day and average yields stand at around 8,000 litres, with the milk going to nearby LacPatrick dairy.

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    Ruminant
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