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COUNTRY NEWS: How to make the most of your forage
5:45pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in News
A WEST Dorset farm hosted an open day to discuss how to get the most from farm-grown forage.
Evershot Farms aims to make the most of on-farm resources to reduce costs and make milk production more profitable.
Farm manager Allaster Dallas showed visitors around their 360-cow unit Melbury Dairy.
The 900 cows at Evershot Farms Ltd are fed on total mixed ration (TMR) with no additional concentrate feed, a system that relies on producing high quality home-grown forage.
Mr Dallas said: “Our system is predominantly grass-based, so the TMR mix includes 70 per cent grass silage and 30 per cent whole crop, with a 36 per cent protein blend, plus mineral feed according to yield.
“The feeding regime at Melbury is working well for us but aiming for high quality forages is key.
“Grass is the cheapest feed for producing milk and that’s why we feed a lot of it and why we want to make sure we can preserve as much of its nutritional quality.”
He added: “Cow comfort and cubicle hygiene is very important to us. We see it as helping keep on top of cell counts and reducing the incidence of environmental mastitis.”
The herd, which has an average yield of 8,500 litres at 3.95 per cent fat and 3.2 per cent protein, is paddock grazed on a 21-day rotation system – although that can vary depending on the time of year.
The farm has an on-going re-seeding programme with most fields re-seeded every seven years with late-heading perennial ryegrasses.
Velcourt Ltd, which has managed Evershot Farms for nearly 20 years, organised the open day with farm suppliers Envirosystems, which produces silage additive Optimize and Envirobed cubicle bedding.
Alongside the dairy part of the business, the farm also runs Melbury Bio Energy, which produces gas from slurry and silage.