Cork Farmer focuses on increasing milk yields and reducing work-load with Eornagold
John Shanahan, his wife Anne and son Jack farm with a pedigree Holstein herd in Ballintotis, Midleton, Co Cork, with 100 cows on a 60-acre grazing platform. This is very much a family enterprise with Anne and Jack being hands-on with their spring and autumn calving herd.
For two and a half years, John Shanahan has been using the high protein and high energy feed Eornagold from Specialist Nutrition for his pedigree Holstein cows. John, to his own surprise, saw an immediate change in his milk yields as well as an increase in daily intakes, improved fertility and a reduction in workload.
"John saw an immediate increase in milk yield. Over time this has solidified into an increase of 3L per head per day."
Unlocking Animal potential
When Eornagold was introduced into the diet, John saw an immediate increase in milk yield. Over time this has solidified into an increase of 3L per head per day over the last couple of years. The increase in milk yield is linked to the high energy content and protein density of the feed. As Eornagold is a moist feed, it will make the overall substrate of the mix wetter, thus increasing consumption. It is also highly palatable and as John says himself, “the cows just love it.” These key characteristics of Eornagold increase dry matter intakes and enhance production.
Rachel McCarthy, a nutritionist with Specialist Nutrition, observed: “Milk recording on Johns farm very clearly shows how the improved yield and milk solids are bolstering the overall success of the farm. Milk solids have gone from 548kg in 2016 to 588kg in 2018. Milk volume has improved from 7605L in 2016 to 8679L in 2018. This very clearly shows the obvious benefits of Eornagold in buffer feeding.”
Unlocking farm potential
In previous years, John fed a mix of maize silage, fodder beet and grass silage along with a high protein blend to balance the diet. For John and the family, there was a lot of work involved in handling and feeding the beet. John wanted to reduce wear and tear on machinery and reduce the time spent in preparing and feeding out the buffer feed.
Eornagold was recommended to him by a neighbour, and once he experienced the ease of storage and incorporation into the feed mix, he was converted. John also wanted to reduce costs on farm and Eornagold offered a more cost-effective way of incorporating protein in the diet.
Improvement in fertility
Prior to feeding Eornagold, John had an empty rate of 20% in the herd. What he noticed since using Eornagold, is the empty rate has now dropped to 14%. John maintains that the extra protein and energy that Eornagold provides post-calving is vital to the cow. It plays a major part in meeting the increasing energy demands of the cow following the onset of lactation and ensures she will be back in calf quickly.
What's in the diet?
At the moment John is buffer feeding 5kgs of Eornagold, 15kgs of grass silage, 0.33kg of straw. John also feeds 2-4kgs of 18% nut in the parlour, depending on the stage of lactation. This diet is being used to buffer feed at autumn grass. Rachel added, “I would describe this as a straight forward diet but you can see how effective it is in the results achieved on the farm since its introduction.”
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