Sunday, 27 September 2009

Dairy Cows very Sensitive to Stray Electricity

Dairy Cows are 15 times more sensitive to stray voltage than humans. Stray voltage leaks into milking parlours due to faulty electric motors or poor fittings on electrical equipment either in or near Milking Parlours.

Some UK dairy farmers know they have a problem but can neither locate nor fix the stray voltage. Others are unaware they have a problem or that it could be related to stray voltage. However there is a problem of poor cow behaviour in the parlour, elevated Bulk Milk Cell Counts & excessive mastitis due to teat end damage.

What are the signs that Stray Voltage may be a problem?

Milking Cows unsettled on the milking platform, stamping & excessive manure during milking.

Rust & bubbling of the metal at the base of steel pipes in contact with concrete.

Cows unwilling to cross gaps in the yard or concrete especially where there is exposed metal eg bridge in rotary parlour.

Cows sniffing pipework

Unusual rubbing & shine on some pipework (where cows are rubbing or backing off other pipes)

Excessive teat end damage & High Bulk Milk Cell Counts
This week Pasture to Profit Discussion Groups in England had 4 valuable days with Steve Corkill from CSL Taranaki NZ.
In the UK we lack skilled people who can identify & fix stray voltage in milking parlours. Steve & Tim brought with them a sensitive meter that measured stray voltage. They checked for stray voltage in a number of milking parlours......around motors, water pipes, across gaps in concrete. They could detect electric fence units & water heaters that were leaking neutral voltage.
Stray voltage of 0.5Volt will unsettle cows. Up to 0.8 Volts will create damage to teat ends. Between 1.5 & 2.0 Volts cows will refuse go near the offending pipework where they might touch & be frightened.
Testing the Milk Pump is especially important as the milk pump is often leaking stray voltage & it is effectively in touch with the cows udder & teats. Variable speed control units for milk pumps & Vaccumn pumps dramatically reduce the risk of stray voltage. Check out Varivac on the CSL website.
Turn off electric fences & Water Heaters during milking to reduce the risk. Electric Fence units should be 30m from the parlour & properly earthed.
Steve we need people like you or trained by you to test for Stray voltage in UK parlours. More importantly we want the problem fixed.
Fantastic meetings what great information & visual demonstration! Well done.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Proud of Our Fine Young Professional Dairy Farmers

The Pasture to Profit network can WALK TALL we have many great young people who are fine examples of 'We Can Do' professionalism.
If you search Google for professionalism it's hard to find any recognition of Dairy Farmers as being professionals.

Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it & doing it.

It's NOT the job you DO, it's HOW you DO the job.
I had the pleasure this week to host an enthusiastic group of pasture based dairy farmers from Brittany France. We travelled together through the South West of England going into a number of brilliant farm businesses that exuded professionalism in every sense of the word.
Can I introduce five fine young professional dairy farmers who deserve to be recognised for their 'Out of the Box thinking', skills, leadership & innovation.
Meet Mat & Jessica Boley, from Batch in Somerset, George & Emily Aldridge, Purton Gloucestershire, Jon & Rachel Rider, Horton in Wiltshire, Will Grant from Newton St Cyres in Devon and Derek & Vicki Garrett from Thornbury just north of Bristol. (photos above)
These people have clear Business Goals, are technically brilliant with outstanding pastures, impressive stockmen/women with extra ordinary dairy cows & herd fertility. They are highly profitable businesses yet their personal/family time is a high priority. They communicate clearly with conviction. They are confident yet very humble.....questioning their own successes.
The UK Dairy Industry needs heros! There is a new breed of well educated, well travelled Discussion Group members who are breaking new boundaries & taking our farming industry forward at amazing speed.
Too often in the UK we are quick to criticise. Too quick to be negative. Too slow to applaud success & too quiet about our fine young professionals.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bloat Still a Risk on Many farms

Bloat has created stress on many UK dairy farms that are covered with thick lush clover dominant pastures this summer & continues to be a threat. Pastures high in potassium & low in Sodium are a real silent threat. The high potassium levels can come from fertilizer or slurry/muck spreading or even paddocks that have regularly been used for night grazings. High risk paddocks could be cut for silage & not grazed ....this will lower the potassium levels. However this silage should be fed to young stock not cows.

Sodium to Potassium ratios create a risky bloat scene when Sodium levels are low. These can be corrected to a certain extent by fertilizing with salt or by putting extra rock salt out for the cows or young stock. Make sure it is close to the water troughs say less than 20 meters from the water/drinking trough. This will need to be moved each grazing.
These are not guaranteed to be bloat preventative by themselves but over the long term do help. Bloat is also highly at risk cows will breed at risk daughters. Chose NZ AI bulls that have low risk.
I have seen many clover dominant pastures that are very lush. Some of these appear to be risky yet so far have not created havoc.....yet others that appear to be low risk have caused deaths. It is very unpredictable so take all care & be prepared. This means dosing the water troughs with oil or anti foaming agents well before the problem occurs.
Mowing in front continues to help on many farms reducing the risk by drying out the clover before grazing.
Current Pasture Covers & Pasture Growth Rates
Cheshire organic 2200 kgsDM/ha & growth 40kgsDM/ha/day
Cumbria 2440 & 60
Staffordshire 2430 & 46
Dorset 2100 & 24
Somerset 2200 & 40
Devon 2284 & 32
Cornwall 2360 & 57
Pembrokeshire 2550kgsDM/ha average cover & 70kgsDM/ha/day

Thursday, 3 September 2009

On Target for Autumn Grass Management?

Summer has been a NON event.
Lots of lily white legs at Discussion Groups .........................not a pretty sight!
September has brought cold wet miserable conditions especially in northern UK. Despite the lack of sunshine pasture growth over the last few months has been amazing. No summer rest for pasture may mean we don't get any autumn peak in pasture growth rates. Everyone needs to be somewhat cautious in what they expect grass growth to do over September.

The lack of sunshine has created a few problems with pasture & cow management....low magnesium levels, low fibre content & lower than normal energy (ME) levels. Not everyone has the milk or milksolids they have been hoping for lately. However the research is clear there are few benefits of trying to add fibre to a grazing cow's diet....all you do if anything is lower DM intake.
The wet summer may also increase the risk of Liver Fluke.....ask your Vet.

Bloat has been a real issue where clover content has been high. A number of products are very useful for control bloat (see website for useful info)...many farmers are mowing in front of the cows & trying to get longer grazing rotations to get some maturity into the feed.
Pasture covers all summer have been very high especially autumn calvers who simply have not had the stocking rate to keep on top of fast growing pasture. Most pasture covers are still really high....on the surface this looks good as we target 2600-2700 for the first week of October. However with very wet conditions in the north its really hard to get good utilization.
I would be lengthening the grazing rotation now to build covers for October.....cooler nights, colder soil temperatures & question marks over available soil nitrogen levels. There is currently little or no difference between organic & N fed pastures in terms of growth or cover.
Farm Pasture Covers & Current measured pasture growth (1st week of Sept) :-
Dumfries....2550kgs DM/ha Average cover......50kgsDM/ha/day growth
North Wales..2660...........70
Staffordshire 2250...........50
Derbyshire 2552..............56
Joburg SAfrica....very dry, (roving reporter Steve Brandon)
Rotorua NZ (end of 1st rotation)....2413........49kgsDM/ha/day growth (via Twitter NZCows)