Dairy Farmers – Why Are You Not All Considering A Shedding Gate?

Many of you may be aware that there is a 40% Grant available on the RDPE Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme which includes EID Shedding gates.  If you would like to know more please contact your local FCG office, because these Grants are only available for application until the 14th March 2018.

With milk prices likely to fall back further this year many of you may be tempted to utilise more grazed grass to reduce feed costs.  Ultimately, I would argue that regardless of milk price all dairy producers should be looking to utilise grazed grass better, especially in high yield systems.  It is also a myth that high yielders cannot and should not graze.  The issue relates to managing protein and supplying fermentable energy.  Grazed grass is an excellent way to supply bypass protein (lysine and arginine) and sugar.  Bought in bypass protein is expensive and may not be possible if you have a Waitrose contract.  Grass contains similar levels of Lysine and Arginine to soya meal which are two of the three most limiting amino acids in a high yielders diet.  Grass also contains a very high level of Vitamin E and Omega 3’s which are extremely beneficial to a high yielding cow.  Supplementation is very expensive for both along with the free benefit of Vitamin D supply from sunshine!  Vitamin A & E are in shorter supply than usual due to an extensive fire in a major European mineral supplier, leading to a spike in vitamin costs, so the benefits are clear.

Trying to graze multiple groups is very time consuming with either more paddocks, many electric fences (both strip grazing and back fences) and more labour hours in moving groups around.  Labour is the most limiting factor on most farms so simplifying the system is key, whilst benefiting from the economic savings of grazed grass.  The EID Shedding gate is the solution to this dilemma.  Cows need to be fitted with EID collars or eartags which can be channelled through a shedding gate in the yard.  This gate can then shed cows depending on grouping or milk yield.  Therefore, all cows could be grazed as one in the evening when grazing is at its peak, and highs could be shed following morning milking onto a high energy TMR buffer.  So more or double the amount of grass would need to be available at night as opposed to in the day.  This also allows high yielding cows to graze in cooler conditions.

If you want to know more, please contact Wesley at wesleyhabershon@fcgagric.com or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Chippenham, Dairy & Forage.