- Date: 7 Mar 2012
- Venue: Carrick House Farm, Carrick Road, Loughbrickland
“Milk output from grazed grass amounted to 2732 litres per cow last year,” Robert told the visiting group.
Concentrate feeding levels are 1.46 tonnes per head and all concentrates are fed in parlour.
This is an all grass farm with the emphasis very much placed on producing as much milk form grazed grass and silage. Re-seeding is an integral part of the production systems now in place with approximately 10% of the farm reseeded annually.
Carrick House Farm is in the heart of drumlin country with the fields at an average altitude of 300 feet. The cows were put out to grass for the first time this year on March 5th – two days earlier than was the case in 2011.
Prior to first cut, the cows have access to an 85 acre grazing block. Robert follows a strip grazing policy with both front and back electric fences used in larger fields. Three cuts of silage are taken, with the first harvested in early May.
The quality of Robert’s first cut in 2011 is a strong reflection of his commitment. It had a D-Value of 77, an ME of 12.3, a Protein Percentage of 13.6, plus a DM of 30.9% and a pH of 4.0.”
The Bryson herd calves between August and April. Significantly, Robert uses natural service during the winter months and AI while the cows are at grass. For safety reasons,Robert prefers to keep the bulls that are used in the house at all times. The cows are inspected regularly throughout the grazing seasons, so most heats are identified.
From a breeding perspective Robert has used a lot of Oman semen on the herd over recent years. When it comes to choosing a sire he looks for one with a high PLI, good components plus good feet and legs. Yield is not a priority.
Given the current price of chemical fertilisers, Robert is keen to make use of slurry – particularly on silage ground.
Contractors emptied the tanks as soon as Robert had completed last year’s third cut silage. And slurry was put out again, this time using an umbilical system.
Soil tests have confirmed that our silage area is very low in Potash. As a result, Muriate of Potash was sown out on February 27th. This was then followed by slurry and urea.
A 21 day rotation is followed during the early part of the grazing season with urea sown out at the equivalent of 2 units of Nitrogen per day.
Apart from bought in bulls, Robert has operated a closed herd management system for the past 15 years. The cows are vaccinated for EBV, Leptospirosis and E Coli. The plan is to build cow numbers up to 170. However, over recent years there has been a surplus of heifers produced on the farm. Robert normally sell those that are surplus to requirements as calves. He operates a 24 month calving policy with all heifers joining the milking herd for the first time.
Robert Bryson is extremely confident regarding the prospects for milk production in Northern Ireland. In addition to his commitment to the breeding stock and the grassland management aspects of the farm, he has recently invested in a new milking parlour and cubicle shed. He opted for a De-Laval 20 point herringbone with feed to yield software. .
There is also auto ID, auto shedding and a cluster flush system. Significantly, cell counts have dropped to below the 100 level since the new milking plant came on line