Clayton Coulter, who owns Portvale Holsteins in Co Monaghan, Ireland, keeps 60 pedigree Holsteins, which are milked twice daily. His grazing herd averages 10,400 litres—with some cows doing over 13,000 litres—at 3.31 per cent protein and 3.9 per cent butterfat.
The herd is typically fed up to 12kg of compound feed/head/day and is grazed over the spring, summer and autumn, with winter rations being based on good quality round bale silage.
The majority of the Portvale herd calves in February and March, and fertility is good, with a calving index of 398. Clayton relies on proactive management and careful breeding selection to keep his herd running productively and efficiently and his cows’ performance speaks to that.
“Our heifers calve typically at 21-22 months of age, and they tend to stay in the milking herd longer than average. For example, we currently have a seventh lactation cow producing 54 litres a day, having last calved in January!”
In May 2017 Clayton noticed a change in his herd and looked to what the cows were eating for answers. “We started seeing a lot of loose, bubbly dung in our cows, which was concerning, so I spoke to my feed supplier, Corby Rock Mill, to see whether they could help. They suggested that we were probably seeing symptoms of sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) and that we should consider adding Actisaf live yeast to our feed to help improve rumen performance. Once we added it into our rations, dung consistency improved rapidly and the cows just seem more content.”
Soon after this, Actisaf and Safmannan – a premium yeast fraction – were also added into the calf feeding regime at the farm and Clayton has noticed a marked improvement in calf performance. “The calves have responded really well to the products. We’ve had no scours and their growth rates have improved since adding them to our calves’ diets.”
Leslie Quinn of Corby Rock Mill is convinced that Actisaf helps improve herd performance and well-being. “We’ve tried a lot of yeasts, but none of them come near Actisaf for performance. I recommend it to everyone who wants healthy and productive herds!”