- Date: 15 Sep 2010
- Venue: The Blelock family’s Ivy Farm at Ballyrobin, Crumlin
Blelock Farm impresses UGS members
The Blelock family’s Ivy Farm at Ballyrobin, Crumlin attracted about 80 members and friends of the Ulster Grassland Society (UGS) for a farm walk on Tuesday 5 October. Introducing the visit, UGS President Dr John Orr stated that the theme of the day was ‘Quality’. That quality was evidenced throughout the visit.
Mark Blelock provided a clear insight into the objectives, development and operation of the farm. His father, Denis, took over the farm 40 years ago and established a dairy herd with 14 cows in 1982. The 210 acre farm currently carries 110 pedigree Holstein cows and 45 – 50 replacement heifers. The aim is to maximise profitability per cow, producing 1 million litres of high quality milk annually.
Fertiliser use has been reduced in recent years by making better use of slurry and dirty water through the use of injection. Medium / large leaved clovers have been introduced into grazing swards, which looked exceptionally well on the day.
The most recent development was an investment in solar panels. Mark talked about the system which he has just installed at the dairy and David Trimble, renewable energy technologist at CAFRE Greenmount, outlined experience gained from the College solar energy system. Also attracting interest was the cluster flushing system installed in the parlour during August and reported to be working well.
James Black, J Thompson & Sons, explained how heifers could be managed to calve at 24 months. The Blelock’s are one of 8 farms across NI which participated in a Thompsons / AFBI Hillsborough / CAFRE Greenmount Heifer Rearing Project. The batch of quality replacement heifers on show demonstrated how the theory was successfully being put into practice on the Blelock farm. Along with excellent management sexed semen is used on heifers for first insemination and surplus replacement heifer calves are sold.
Whole crop wheat grown this year and ensiled on 30 August analysed very well. 16 acres of forage maize will be harvested later in the month.