VIDEO: Brewers Grains Unlocks the Potential in Richard Whelan’s Dairy Farm


Richard Whelan, a dairy farmer from Clonard in Co. Meath, has some of the top pedigree Holstein cows in the country. Richard is milking these high potential cows on a grazing platform of 80 acres and a further 40 acres away from the yard. With the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 and the introduction of a Lely robotic milking system on his farm, a new opportunity opened for Richard to further tailor his cows diet. Working with ruminant nutritional experts Specialist Nutrition, who he has a relationship with for over 15 years and from whom he purchases a range of products including Brewers Grains, Maize and silage additives; Richard focused on fine-tuning his animal’s nutrition programme in order to unlock the full potential of his farm.

2016 Fact File

60 Pedigree Holstein Cows

11,000kgs average milk per cow

4.11% fat content

3.24% protein content

844kgs total average milk solids

In 2016, with the herd producing on average over 11,000 kgs of milk per cow, at 4.11% fat and 3.24% protein, resulting in total milk solids produced in the last year at 844 kgs average; the farm certainly reached its full capabilities. 

Unlocking Animal Potential

Through the introduction of a Robotic system Richard was able to feed to yield. This allowed him to feed individual cows more precisely while maintaining overall performance and body condition throughout the season. To achieve this, Specialist Nutrition worked with him to rebalance his herds diet with a focus on improving overall animal intake within the TMR mix. “The genetics in my herd were good and the cows were performing well; but I knew there was more potential. One of the key challenges was to make maximum use of the concentrates and forages that I was feeding. By working with Specialist Nutrition I was able to address that and found that Brewers Grains in particular helped me achieve my goal”.

Richard wanted to reduce the variation in protein intake between fresh and late lactation cows which was accomplished by reducing the protein in his dairy nut and increasing it in the TMR diet. This ensured more efficient use of his feed and better intake into the cows. The TMR diet during the winter consisted of grass and maize silage, Brewers Grains from Specialist Nutrition and a 4-way mix of rolled wheat, maize meal, soya and beet pulp. The cows were then fed to yield with a 17% dairy nut in the robot. With this mix his cows consumed an average daily intake of 60kg of fresh weight throughout the winter months; which increased intake by 8% in its entirety compared to previous years.

Within this diet, Brewers Grains provided an excellent feed for his herd, as it is a good source of digestible fibre, along with containing heat treated protein and oil. Pale to mid brown in colour and highly palatable due to its pleasant malty aroma, Brewers Grains mixes well with other forages to encourage high intake levels. Richard explains “Brewers Grains provides a good source of protein and I’m able to get more home-grown forages into them due to Brewers Grains palatability and how well it mixes within the TMR mix. If it wasn’t present in the diet it would be a major omission”. 

Winter Diet Comparison 35kg of milk

Pre 2015                                      

Grass Silage        17kg      

Maize Silage       20kg      

Brewers Grains    6kg        

4 Way Mix           3kg        

19% Dairy Nut    6kg 

2016

Grass Silage        18kg

Maize Silage       25kg

Brewers Grain   10kg

4 Way Mix           3kg

17% Dairy Nut    4kg

Unlocking Land Potential

Replacing a second cut of silage with Brewers Grains has enabled Richard to maximise the potential of his land. He pits Brewers Grains in the summer months to ensure he has a reliable feed to last him until the end of February, without compromising his grazing platform. By pitting properly Richard has maintained the high quality nutritional value within the Brewers Grain’s feed. Richard explains that “once the load comes in we heap it up into a pit and then cover it with plastic sheets, along with plenty of weight on top of it, like heavy tyres and sand bags. The process is no different to normal grass or maize silage pitting”.

In times of wet spring months, Richard hasn’t been forced to put extra pressure on his land by grazing it, as he has worked with the Specialist Nutrition team to secure fresh loads of Brewers Grains “When spring has come late and we have needed to continue to feed, I planned ahead with the Specialist Nutrition logistics team who provided me with Brewers Grains as I needed it.”

The Results: True Potential of Richard Whelan’s Farm Unlocked

The ruminant nutrition expertise of Specialist Nutrition, coupled with Brewers Grains unique nutritional and palatable features has unlocked the true potential of Richard’s farm and increased his farms profitability. “Working with Specialist Nutrition and pitting Brewers Grains has been a win:win for me and my farm. I’m safe in the knowledge that I have a guaranteed supply of fodder that’s not impacting my grazing platform”.

Specialist Nutrition, in partnership with Lely, will be hosting an Open Day on Richard Whelan’s Farm in Clonard Co. Meath on the Thursday 11th May at 11am. Brewers Grains pitting demonstrations, dairy nutrition options, forage and feed analysis, along with a Lely robotic milking system demonstration and a BBQ, will all be part of the day. 

To attend this event RSVP to Ellenor on emcdonnell@specialistnutrition.ie or text/call 087 1404501

Read Richard Whelan Case Study