Pictured: The Irwin family from left to right: William, Philip, Colin & Samuel.
Tynan, Co. Armagh, between Monaghan town and Armagh City, is where you will find the Irwin family farm. The family run operation milk over 200 high yielding Holstein Friesian cows on an all-year-round calving system, with the high yielding group of cows housed full-time and cows grazing during the summer months and housed during the winter. Over the past 18 months, the herd has expanded from 200 to 240 cows, with an average production of roughly 10,000 litres per cow.
In June 2020, Colin contacted Lakeland Agri as he felt the cows were not performing and that his margins were getting tighter.
At the time cows were averaging 29 litres of milk, however we were having major issues with the fresh cows as condition was falling off them in early lactation. In addition to this, bulling activity was only average. Our highest performing cows had total concentrate feed allocations in excess of 20kg per day which in hindsight, was far too high. We were starting to see problems with feet and didn't want it to become an issue. Despite the high levels of feed going in we didn’t feel we were getting the milk yields, and we were never hitting the targets for the constituents to get the bonuses either.
TMS Programme - On farm analysis
As a starting point, Alan Hurst from the Lakeland Agri Technical team visited the farm in July and examined all aspects of the system including cow condition and locomotion, milk data results, forage analysis, ration composition, as well as the various diets including concentrate feed allocations. As part of the recommendations, the Irwin’s joined stage 2 of the Lakeland Agri Transition Management System (TMS), whereby an independent assessor walks through the cows once per month to assess a number of key criteria in the fresh cow, and the close-up dry cows, which when combined will give the individual farm a score to assess the success of their transition programme.
As part of the programme, assessor Kim Carnegie, found that in general the dry cows were approaching calving in good condition but could belosing up to a full condition score after calving, and many fresh cows were only averaging 2.25-2.5 Body Condition Score (BCS). Using this information, the Lakeland Agri technical team revised the feeding strategy and introduced the Irwin Dairy Nut (Milkmaster style nut) and one of the high specification Lakeland Agri Dairy Wagon Mixes. Using their expert knowledge of automated feeding systems, the Lakeland Agri Team also constructed new feed tables in both the parlour and out of parlour feeders to help Colin assess and group his milking herd and gain greater feed efficiency. Although there was very little issues with transition diseases, a full dry cow TMR was introduced, to improve rumen fills, dry cow BCS and to smooth the transition between the dry cow and the milking cow diets.
According to Colin, the changes made over the last 9 months have vastly improved the performance of the farm. Colin comments,
The farm has done a full 180 degrees. Our cows are looking really well. It took them a while to come back to themselves, but they are really moving on now. Milk is probably up to 30 litres on average, with the high cows doing around 40 litres. Heats are really, really strong – activity in the cows is up, they would nearly knock you over bulling in the shed. Feet have improved, lameness is definitely down and cows just look content. We’ve seen a big reduction in the costs associated with concentrate usage, with concentrate feed allocation down by as much as 10kg per cow, whilst milk volume and constituents, and overall cow health and appearance have all improved.
We are getting all our milk bonuses on a monthly basis now. When we started working with Lakeland Agri, the forage component was giving us maintenance plus 3.5 litres but now the forage component is delivering maintenance plus 10 litres which is a huge saving to the farm on a weekly and monthly basis. “We find the visits by both Kim and Christopher, our Lakeland Agri nutritionist, to be extremely valuable. They are two extra sets of eyes through the cows each month which helps us notice issues that we may not see. It is also good to hear them say that what we are doing is working when they can see it in the cows, it is reassurance for us. I would highly recommend to any farmer, regardless of herd size, to get involved in the Lakeland Agri TMS and Technical Service, it has completely turned things around for us.
Why get involved in the TMS Programme?
- Higher milk volume
- Improved milk composition
- Achieving all bonuses
- Significant reduction in concentrate use and costs
Lakeland Agri NI milk suppliers interested in joining phase 2 of the highly successful TMS programme should contact their Lakeland Dairies Milk Advisor or one of the Lakeland Agri Team TODAY on:
- Gary Tubman 07900 248 728
- Michael Mc Geeney 07831 176 584
- David Beacom 07503 110 242
- Christopher Cahill +353 (0) 87 1934 502
- Alan Hurst + 353 (0) 87 2901663
Alternatively, you can call our Customer Services Centre.