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2015 spring visit to Pat Lavery, Portadown

Event Details

  • Date: 5 May 2015
  • Venue: 20 Derryvore Lane Portadown, BT63 5RS

The Ulster Grassland Society’s spring meeting was a visit to the dairy farm of Pat Lavery.

A very wet morning did not detract a large crowd from attending Pat Lavery’s farm.  The assembled crowd had a quick tour of the 60 ha farm to see the high standard of Pat’s grassland management and to see the  90 cow dairy herd.  After the tour of the farm discussion took place indoors in much more comfort.

The herd rolling average is over  8000 l/cow on 2.2 tonnes concentrates/cow.  The winter diet consists of grass silage only and concentrate fed via a computerised “feed to yield” system in a Dairymaster parlour.   An out-of-parlour feeder is used to “top-up” the highest yielding cows.

Grazed grass has been a major focus of Pat’s system over the last number of years – even as the herd has become higher yielding and as he has moved to a higher proportion of Holstein.  The entire herd will be at grass from March until October with no buffer feeding through the main grass growing season.  Pat focuses on grass intake to ensure that the cows maintain milk yield through the late summer and early autumn.

A strip grazing system is used and if he feels that grass quantity is getting a bit low and intake likely to be compromised cows will be given extra grass at lunchtime.  When swards have more than 3500kg/DM/ha he removes the excess grass as round bales.  Topping is occasionally carried out to remove excess residual grass after grazing and maintain sward quality.    This level of management ensures high quality swards.  Alternate cutting and grazing can be used on many fields due to the layout of the farm.

Pat has a regular reseeding programme and he uses a mix of mid/late PRG and makes good use of clover. During 2014, 30 acres were reseeded with the new pastures looking veryb well. He also includes red clover in his silage swards.  Pat says “I like to keep the system simple and get as much from grass as possible”.

90% of slurry is applied using a dribble bar at 2500gal/acre. Nutrient management planning has been in progress since 2003  and all fields have been soil sampled with lime applied when dictated necessary by the soil analysis.

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