- Date: 30 Apr 2019
Ulster Grassland Society 2019 Spring Meeting on Finvoy dairy farm
Despite inclement weather the Ulster Grassland Society held their Spring Meeting on 30th April to the farm of Desmond and Alastair Taylor near Ballymoney when almost 100 members and friends attended.
UGS President Jim Freeburn welcomed everyone and introduced Alastair Taylor to those who had assembled on the farm at Finvoy. Mr Taylor said they were pleased to have the Society visit and then provided a brief outline of the farm history and current farm policy and direction.
The farm extends to 250 acres grassland and 100 acres of arable to support dairying and broiler enterprises along with an AD plant which utilises slurry, chicken litter, FYM and waste silage to produce electricity for the farm and sale to the grid.
The dairy enterprise comprises 230 dairy cows producing 9,500 litres per annum of which 2,500 litres is milk from forage. Milk is sold to Dale Farm with milk components being 4.15% butterfat and 3.24% protein.
The herd calves between September and June with Alastair advising that they still had 20 cows to calve this year. Cows are mainly Holstein however the Taylor’s have been successfully experimenting with a three way cross utilising Holstein x Montbelliard x Norwegian Red genetics. They use 100% AI and herd fertility is managed by Genus RMS.
Up to 45 replacement heifers are reared annually to calve down at 24 months with beef type and male calves sold at birth. Utilising former buildings for the dairy herd has allowed heifer rearing to be based on the home farm rather than on an outlying unit.
In order to reduce time spent milking cows and free up management time the Taylor’s recently expanded their dairy cow housing, to accommodate up to 280 cows, and installed a robotic milking system with four robots. The Management Information now available helps them manage the herd and quickly take remedial action when intervention is required.
On the farm they operate a four cut silage system with six to eight weeks between cuts. The first two cuts are fed to the dairy cows with replacements fed third cut silage and the final cut used in the digester.
The arable enterprise is based on winter and spring wheat with grass reseeds undersown using mid to late varieties and based on regular soil testing.
During the tour of the farm led by Alastair Taylor and chaired by Jim Freeburn there was excellent interaction and questions from those attending.
Society President Jim Freeburn commented that the visit had highlighted “great diversity and innovation with two generations working closely to build on previous success achieved on this farm”.
The discussion continued over a BBQ lunch when a vote of thanks was extended on behalf of the Society to Messrs Taylor for hosting such an informative and interesting visit for UGS members.