Zero grazing can help to increase milking platform
Similar to the rest of the country the main restriction to expansion in Kerry is milking platform size. With this in mind some of my farmers have been looking at zero grazing as a way to carry more cows on the milking block.
The Teagasc/Dairygold farm walk last week on the farm of Dan Galvin, outside Macroom was a mine of information for farmers considering this option.
Dan's farm consists of 34ac of a milking platform with the remainder of the farm including owned and leased land on five separate blocks.
Dan started bringing in grass seven years ago and bought a zero grazer in 2011.
This year he is milking 73 cows, up from 50 last year, giving him a stocking rate of 5.4 cows per hectare on the milking block.
Grass is cut on a daily basis and takes 45 to 60 minutes a day. The maximum distance Dan travels is 6km each way. It is a system that has been working well for him.
To date cows have produced 405kgs milk solids per cow on 534kgs ration per head.
Previously he tried alkalage, which worked well enough and maize silage, which wasn't a success. For Dan the big attraction is the security of grass in terms of cost and nutritive feed value in comparison to alternatives.