This year’s tour was held at Harper Adams and Andrew & Bill Higgins (2013 Gold Cup Winners) dairy farm.
Andrew & Bill Higgins
Passionate drive was clear from the outset, where everyone’s role was clearly defined. At present 414 cows were in milk producing 12,000 litres at 3.91% Butterfat, 3.11% Protein, 10 Bactoscan and 87 Somatic Cell Count on a Tesco Muller milk contract. Andrew focused on feeding and Bill on health, with all staff expected to buy into protocols and accountability. All staff participated in a two week trial before employment. There was a clear emphasis on consistency for cows in both feeding and handling, with two TMR mixes fed to the dairy and dry cows respectively.
Other key areas included fresh cow ketone monitoring and hydration of all freshly calved cows, with cameras of calving yard linked to main office and home televisions.
Andrew and Bill had clearly defined aims for the next ten years which included succession, farm profitability, investment and new projects. Every area of the business had been questioned and each member of the Tour learned or took away some ideas for their own farm.
Professor Liam Sinclair described the latest research, which included algae feeding and its advantage of reducing methane and improving fertility. The cows in the experiment were fed the same mix apart from a small amount of algae in half the groups feed. Cows were of similar days in milk with yield, constituents and fertility measured.
Cow behaviour was also examined to see whether cows preferred to be in or outside, at grass or eating a TMR. They concluded that cows preferred both and would consume the same amount of TMR in less time when they knew grazing was available.
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