See inside Gurteen's pedigree dairy farm that plans to expand to 240 cows
Currently milking 180 cows, the Gurteen pedigree Holstein Friesian herd has plans to increase herd size to 240 cows, using all home-bred replacement heifers.
“We could have the herd increased to 240 within a year, but we have stuck with our culling programme of culling cows with poor fertility and below average milk statistics,” Gurteen Farm Manager, Ken Flynn said.
“We’ll be able to milk 250 cows comfortably, stocking roughly a cow to the acre. After this, we’ll assess the grass situation and see if we have space for any more,” explained the college principal, Mike Pearson.
The pedigree herd is currently producing on average 510kg of milk solids per cow. Herd EBI is €115 and SCC is on average 140,000 throughout the year. Last year, 950kg of meal was allocated per cow, although this has climbed considerably this year, Ken plans to reduce this in the coming years.
For the first six weeks of the breeding season, cows are put in calf using AI to breed future replacement heifers. After this, a Limousin stock bull is used on the dairy herd to breed replacements for the suckler herd, and then an Angus bull is used to clean up for the remaining three weeks of the breeding season.
“Heifers are synchronised and have one round of AI before they’re let running with the Angus bull for six weeks,” explained Ken.
Ken said the Tipperary herd will aim to improve fertility and increase solids through breeding. As well as this, Ken will breed for a smaller stature cow compared what was traditionally bred in Gurteen.
Family Farm Lessons
Mike said he wants to teach students lessons that they can bring back to the family farm. The agricultural college, is breeding for a high EBI, black and white herd, and will not be cross-breeding in the future.