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2023 Autumn Dairy Visit

Event Details

  • Date: 7 Nov 2023
  • Venue: Draynes Farm, 1 Glenavy Road , Lisburn, BT28 3UP

The Ulster Grassland Society ‘s autumn meeting saw a large crowd visited the Drayne family farm on the outskirts of Lisburn.

The farm has been in the Drayne family since 1932.  In explaining the history of the farm Michael Drayne said that they established a milk distribution round by horse and cart in the Lisburn area. Michael said that when he joined the business in 1970 it was still mainly doorstep deliveries, but supermarkets were growing in number, and this brought a gradual demise in doorstep deliveries. Instead, they had to seek alternate outlets in shops, restaurants, coffee shops and local retailers.

Since joining the business, the farm and dairy have been developed with further plans outlined on expansion of both the dairy herd and milk processing business.

The dairy presently process is over 7 million litres annually, mainly bottling. The milk plant processes 5000 litres per hour to produce full-skim, semi-skim, whole-milk, whipping cream and double cream. Plans are in place to double the processing plant capacity thereby increasing efficiency of the operation.

An ice cream business was established around eight years ago with the focus on a high fat premium ice cream which has proved very successful with sales throughout NI and the ROI.

The dairy herd comprises of 120 Holstein dairy cows with expansion to 170 cows planned to maximise output from the three Lely A4 robots in place. Extensive use is made of sexed semen, particularly on maiden  heifers (synchronised at13-14 months to calve down at 24 months) and the top performing cows. Triple beef semen is also used with Aberdeen Angus bulls running with heifers and some Viking Red semen introduced with the first calves on the ground.

The focus in bull selection is increasing longevity and total lifetime yield in addition to high combined fat and protein figures. The farm works closely with vets with regular scanning visits and pre-breeding checks.

During the tour off the farm silage management and nutrition was outlined by Mary-Jane Robinson, from Thompsons with day-to-day herd and grassland management covered by Chris White, farm manager.

Cow are fed during the winter months by diet feeder with diets uploaded and monitored via the Keenan In-Touch system with a customised blend fed alongside an 18% percent compound nut. Feed tables for all cows and heifers allow build-up and transition onto feed to yield.

A three-cut silage system is in place along with whole crop wheat with a target to cut grass and ensile within 24 hours. Consideration is being given at present to adopting a four-cut silage system to improve silage quality.

Grassland is reseeded every 7-10 years with lower yielding fields prioritised (<12TDM/Ha) with a break crop of wheat in the rotation.

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