With autumn in full swing and winter fast approaching many farmers minds are now turning to winter turn in. To accurately plan for winter and ensure best results for stock during this time a winter feed plan is key with forage analysis being a crucial part in planning.

Once forage is cut, pitted, or baled and wrapped, it
should then be left to ferment for a minimum of 6 weeks
before it can be analysed by an on farm nutritionist in
order to determine the quality of the forage. Analysis of
silage allows us to determine important parameters such as dry matter, crude protein, metabolic energy, fibre content and also the preservation of the crop. By having access to this knowledge, it allows better winter planning allowing us to allocate which forage should be fed to each age group on farm. This also allows us to assess the best quality concentrate or bespoke meal to complement forage to ensure best results from feed provided.

Youngstock: For youngstock, we are looking for a good dry matter within the target range (around 30% DM) a higher protein vital for healthy growth (>12%) and high levels of energy, vital for promoting live weight gain (>12 MJ/kg).

Finishing Stock: Finishing stock benefit from a silage lower in protein (10-12%) with a good level of energy to promote flesh during the finishing period. (>12 MJ/kg).

Breeding Stock: Silage for breeding stock very much depends on stage of production, with dry cows requiring decent quality forage, slightly higher in dry matter can also be beneficial. Closer up to calving, it is important a good quality forage in provided higher in protein and energy to support both mother and young.

If you would like to analyse your forage and discuss winter feed planning, please do not hesitate to get in contact with your Davidsons Feed Advisor.

Lorna Shaw

How Efficient is your Herd?

October 29, 2020

The resilience of the farming sector and the people within it is like no other, and is something we should all be proud of, rising to the challenges thrown our way time and time again. More often than not, these challenges are from factors external to your business e.g. weather, milk markets, a global pandemic etc. and a lot of time is spent discussing these external factors and their undoubted impacts on farming businesses.

External factors aside, the key question must to be, how many dairy businesses take the time to really assess the factors within their business that they can control, and how can we, as a team improve efficiency, resilience and margins? If not, why are we not challenging this? And how do we go about it?

Understanding costs of production, what value for money the business is getting from purchased goods and how are the farms own resources, namely forage, being utilised must all be considered. But where to start?

Key considerations:

  • Monthly dairy costings – understanding current performance is key
  • Benchmarking – understanding the performance of similar systems
  • Setting targets – where do you want your business to be
  • Delivery – a strategy to help deliver your set targets
  • Ongoing appraisal – monitor costings, performance etc.

Kingshay recently released their Dairy Costings Focus Annual Report 2020, providing a great benchmarking tool focusing on different systems, areas, herd sizes etc. Some of the results are staggering, with the top 10% generating 4,449 litres from forage, some 3,136 litres more than the bottom 25%. This is directly linked to a feed rate of 0.23kg/litre for the top 10%, rising to 0.38kg/litre for the bottom 25% of producers.

But what does this mean for your business?

The table below explores how greater utilisation of forages and increased feed efficiency play a role in overall feed costs for the herd despite increased feed costs per tonne, assuming 150 cow herd and 8,500 litre annual average:

Feed Price (£/t) Feed Rate (kg/litre milk) Feed Costs (£/cow) Feed Costs (£/herd) Difference
265 0.25 563 84469
255 0.3 650 97538 13068.75
245 0.35 729 109331 11793.75
235 0.4 799 119850 10518.75
225 0.45 861 129094 9243.75


How do I get started?

As part of our ongoing commitment to the dairy sector , Davidsons Dairy Tech team offer a complementary monthly costings service, tracking herd performance and seeking to maximise the individuality of each farming system and importantly your milk contract.

Time spent understanding your business and your aspirations is key, and devising a delivery strategy that can be monitored and challenged regularly will reap the rewards.

As we approach winter 2020 and rationing of your herd for the winter months is being considered, is now a good time for you to start asking the questions?

James Bendle

Pushing the Boundaries this Winter

September 29, 2020

As we head into another winter of feeding cows, what are your targets? What are you aiming to achieve this winter? From the annual 2020 Kingshay report we can see that over the last 10 years the average lactation yield for a Holstein Friesian Dairy cow has risen from 7723 litres to 8384 litres, a […]

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Murray Lyle, Mid Cambushinnie

September 28, 2020

“We have seen tremendous results while using Excel on farm, putting great condition on youngstock to achieve great results in the sale ring. Just recently we sold recent batch of Saler X Charolais store calves at 11 months with an average weight of 440kg (Average 1.2kg DLWG) bringing in an average return of £1060 per […]

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Stuart Burgess, Maryfield Farm

September 28, 2020

“Our calves are creep fed on Deluxe 17 from young calves, we then sell all our calves straight of the cow at suckled calf sales in October. We were so happy at how the calves grew on and how well they looked at the time of sale.”

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William Thomson, Hownam Grange

September 9, 2020

The product is 1st class, we’ve never had an issue with anything we’ve had. The delivery is second to none, you can phone up in the morning and if needs be, your feeds there the next again day. That’s a huge thing on farm now, there’s no time for people to be running about checking […]

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