4th March 2010

Dairy Monitor Farm First Meeting Attracts Over 100

The surge of interest among Scotland’s farmers in the opportunity monitor farms present in terms of business efficiency, was evident today (March 4th) at the first meeting of the Central Scotland dairy monitor farm.

More than 100 farmers and industry representatives, from as far afield as Dumfries-shire, attended the initial meeting hosted by the Milne family of Carcary Farms, near Brechin in Angus.

Sandy Milne, in partnership with father, Ian, milks 340 pedigree black and red Holsteins at East Pitforthie, where the dairy complex was developed from a green-field site, with the first milking in August 2004. This investment enabled the amalgamation of the Milne’s previously two separate herds, each of 110 cows, on farms seven miles apart.

Barley and wheat are grown, with the zero-grazed herd’s rations, based on wholecrop wheat, along with barley straw and some silage.

The closed herd calves year-round, with the higher yielders milked three times a day. The herd averages 9,622 litres.

Sandy Milne, the fourth generation of his family on the farm, explained why he had applied to become a monitor farmer. “I hope the venture will make me take a harder look at the business, and reap the benefit of the pooling of ideas and suggestions from other dairy farmers.

“There are many topics to be discussed over the next three years, but right now there are two main problems we want to address. The first is cell counts – we’re within the bonus, but are concerned that the levels seem to be increasing, and we’re not sure why. The other problem we want to focus on is Johnes.”

The Milnes have a number of strategies in place to tackle Johnes – including blood testing dry cows and segregating positives from clears, running two groups, which calve in separate areas.

Heifer calves are not kept from the animals which test positive and they only keep colostrum from Johnes-free cows.

A monitor farm meeting focusing on Johnes will be held on the farm towards the end of April, where George Caldow, Veterinary Manager of SAC’s Premium Cattle Health Scheme, will speak on the disease.

The good disease news however is that the Milne’s herd is clear of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), a status the family is justifiably proud of.

In her opening address, Heather Wildman, Extension Officer for DairyCo, which runs the monitor farm, along with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), emphasised the need for strict biosecurity on the farm.

For the first meeting, the attending farmers split into numerous groups to discuss a range of individual topics to give them a background to the management of the farm. They also took the opportunity to have a close inspection of the range of equipment, including a flush wash slurry system, using re-cycled water from the slurry after it has gone through a slurry separator.

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