Caledon Dairy Discussion group updated on AgriSearch
and DARD funded dairy research
During a recent visit
to the Agri-Food
and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, the Caledon Dairy Discussion Group were updated on a number
of new and ongoing Agri-Search and DARD co-funded dairy research projects.
Ferris highlights the performance of the Jersey cross Holstein crossbred cows to the Caledon Dairy Discussion
findings from a major three year study involving feeding high yielding dairy cows during the winter
period, were presented by Dr Fiona Young, dairy research scientist, AFBI Hillsborough. Results of these studies have shown that reductions in body condition loss in early lactation, and improved
fertility, can be achieved by modifying the type of concentrate fed in early lactation. Dr Conrad Ferris explained to the group that while nutritional strategies to increase feed intakes with
high yielding cows have been examined in a number of studies, a new research project designed to increase
nutrient intakes with high yielding cows through ‘non-nutritional strategies’ is currently underway. This project is examining the impact of issues such as feed barrier design, feed space per cow, and
availability of feed, on feed intake, cow performance, and welfare. Preliminary data from a major new spring milk production study, involving a comparison of Holstein Friesian
and Jersey crossbred dairy cows, was also presented. While lactation milk yields were approximately 1000 litres lower with the Jersey crossbred cows in Year
1, a large improvement in milk composition meant that the value of milk produced on a daily basis was
identical with each of the two breeds. In addition, fertility was much improved with the Jersey crossbred cows. The group were particularly interested to see the Jersey crossbred and Norwegian dairy cows that form
part of the Hillsborough herd.
The group also had the opportunity to hear about research
rearing systems, and discussed the results of a number of recently completed AgriSearch projects addressing
issues such as protein levels in calf milk replacers, and optimum milk replacer feeding levels. Dr Steven Morrison, animal research scientist, AFBI Hillsborough explained that on-farm research had
demonstrated that for Holstein animals, the target age at first calving should be 24 months, with heifers
having a target pre-calving live weight of 560 – 580 kg. The visit concluded with Mr Mike Davies, the Dairy Herd manager at AFBI Hillsborough, giving the group
a tour of the new rotary milking parlour.