High yielding silage leys also offer good grazing for heifers
Chris Ford of Peadon Farm near Bridgwater farms has 470 Holstein cows giving 12,500 litres of milk sold to Tesco through the Muller Milk Group. His cows calve all year round and stay indoors, fed a TMR including high quality grass, maize and lucerne silage.
But his youngstock graze from the end of February to the end of December – with free access to a shed and silage should they want it.
“It costs a lot to raise a heifer and this needs to be done as cost effectively as possible. The cost of grazed grass is half that of silage so it makes sense to allow them to grow and get ready for their first calf while grazing, “ says Chris.
The all-grass 261ha (640 acre farm) is down to three-year leys and then one season maize. The two mixtures used are Oliver Seeds Tornado and Rapier, supplied by Chris’ agronomist Simon Trenary of H L Hutchinson.
These consist of very high yielding, fast growing Italian ryegrasses, which are sown after maize harvest. Six cuts of silage are taken from the start of April until mid October.
“While these are in reality cutting mixtures – they also provide very good grazing for the heifers too. I am pleased that they graze so well.”
This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of British Dairying magazine.