Based near Dromore, Northern Ireland, Barry & Philip run a herd of 60 Pedigree British Friesians. Milk is sold to United Dairy Farmers and milk quality is good – so good, in fact, that they were runners-up in the United Dairy Farmers quality milk competition in 2013/2014.
When it comes to management approach, they aim to graze the herd for 180 days a year and then house them over the winter, when the cows are fed a TMR ration, topped up with feed to yield in the milking parlor. This parlor ration comprises 50:50 home-grown bruised barley and oats, which makes up 75% of the feed, with the remaining 25% comprising soya, giving a feed with an overall crude protein of 18%.
“The farm is around 600 feet above sea level and we grow late heading grasses, so we typically take our first cut of grass silage around the middle to end of May,” Barry explained. “This tends to give us good quality grass silage, which we mix with 3kg of meal and some straw to create our TMR.”
Whilst they were fairly happy with herd performance, with cows averaging around 7,000 liters/year, they decided to try adding Actisaf Farm Pack to the TMR mix last year to see if it delivered any benefits.
“We weren’t seeing any particular problems but we had heard that Actisaf® live yeast improves rumen function so we thought that we would give it a try,” Barry said.
So far, he’s been impressed by the results. “Feed intakes improved when we introduced Actisaf® and cows are cudding really well. Dung is consistently good and fibre digestion seems better.”
This has played out as improved milk yield, with a 1 litre/cow/day improvement after Actisaf® was added, despite everything else staying the same. On top of this, fertility and foot health is good – something that is critically important as they rear all their own replacements as well as breeding some of their cows to Angus and Limousin, with some of these being finished on farm and some sold as replacements to suckler herds.
Actisaf® has also delivered benefits for their calves, when fed alongside another Phileo Lesaffre Animal Care product, Safmannan®. “About four or five years ago we had a particular issue with scour in our young calves and we started feeding a calf feed supplement that includes Safmannan® along with some additional Actisaf®,” Barry explained. “Once we did this the scour problem disappeared and so we continue to use this approach whenever we see a problem with scour – it really works well.”
When asked what he thinks of Actisaf®, Barry’s views are fairly clear. “Actisaf® has worked well on our farm,” he concludes, “and it will continue to be a key addition to our rations in the future”.