Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 21 October 2017

Watch: ‘Our cows are as happy inside as outside’: Zero grazing farmer on feeding his 1,200 cows

George Bingham milks his herd three times a day and produces around half a million litres of milk a week, supplying Strathroy.
George Bingham milks his herd three times a day and produces around half a million litres of milk a week, supplying Strathroy.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

George Bingham from Templepatrick in Co Antrim has a 650-acre farm and 1,200 cows with 650 milking at any one time.

George who recently appeared on the TV show Rare Breed runs a zero grazing system with all of his cows indoors and he brings the grass to them.

“I’m milking quite a large herd. Having enough land around the farmyard to milk cows is not easy and we have quite a fragmented farm.

“You either have to walk the cows further or cross roads,” he said.

Bingham says when he was small and was milking less cows he would only meet half a dozen cars on the road and it was no big deal.

“Then the roads get busier and busier and you’re bringing the cows across at 6am and there’s people on the way to work,” he said.

“George finds zero grazing is cheaper and easier to manage for his size of herd. I know with the sort of summer we had last year, if had put all my cows out to grass the fluctuation in the milk price would have been phenomenal.

“Bringing the grass in you have more of a control on the variables in the business.

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“We have cows at different stages of lactations. Cows that are freshly calved, cows that are heavily pregnant and not giving so much milk.

“It’s hard to justify making silage for a cow not giving a lot of milk.

“Previous to this we would have had some cows inside and some out grazing. It just was a nightmare to manage all the different types of groups of cows,” he said.

Bingham says with this machine you are utilising the grass which is cheap and the cows are getting all there vitamins and minerals in the summer time associated with grass rather than just feeding them silage.

“It’s not much different than grazing. We have a rotation of fields we go around. We go around the same fields roughly every three weeks.

“Keeping the cows inside is more costly. So you need to be feeding them as efficiently as you can.

“It used to be that our cow when it rained the cows would stand at the back of a hedge or it was getting near milking time they would be standing near the gate. The damage they were doing to the ground was fierce.

“Our cows are as happy inside as they are outside,” he said.


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