- Date: 29 Oct 2014
- Venue: Harold Johnston, Ballybollen House, 5 Clooney Road, Ahoghill, Co Antrim
The Ulster Grassland Society’s autumn dairy meeting was a visit to the dairy farm of Harold Johnston, Ballybollen House, 5 Clooney Road, Ahoghill, Co Antrim, on Wednesday 29th October and was attended by around 180 members and guests.
Harold farms 152 ha and the main enterprise on the farm is a 220 cow pedigree dairy herd run on a commercial basis. The herd rolling average is almost 8300 l/cow on 3 tonnes concentrates/cow. The cows are miked through a Dairymaster parlour, 20 point swing over, which was installed in 2005. The calving pattern presently extends from mid-August to late April but he is attempting to tighten this up over the next few years.
Bulls used on the herd are based on PLI criteria, especially on areas of fertility and longevity. Heifers calve down at 2 years of age. Calves are reared in hutches with very good success.
Harold uses a paddock grazing system and he practices regular plate metering of swards throughout the summer and this helps decision making in terms of removing excess grass as round bales if necessary. This level of management ensures high quality swards. He has a regular reseeding programme and he uses a mix of mid/late PRG. The herd is grazed as one group with no diet feeding once out full time. At housing the herd is split into high and low yielders.
About 10 ha of winter wheat is grown, crimped and used for home-feeding and he grows 10 ha of wholecrop wheat. A 150 KW wind turbine was erected 18 months ago with all electricity sold to the grid. Solar panels were erected in March and all the energy is used on the farm.