Grassland Club members outline their different farming systems
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Alan Warnock (left) Chairman of Fermanagh Grassland Club, with club members who spoke at their monthly meeting (from left) Philip Clarke, Maurice Hurst and James Murphy.<
The last indoor meeting of Fermanagh Grassland Club was a unique occasion when three club members were the joint speakers. Local dairy farmers, Maurice Hurst, James Murphy and Philip Clarke gave an insight into their differing systems of milk production and their approach to grassland farming. All three farmers are committed to making the most of the resources they have available to them to produce milk in a cost effective and sustainable way.
Maurice Hurst runs a high yielding herd of pedigree Holstein cows with an all year round calving pattern.
His focus is very much on individual cow performance. High quality silage is a cornerstone of Maurice's farming as cows are housed for a large part of the year.
Good quality silage has helped to achieve high yields of milk without excessive use of purchased feed. Concentrates are fed only through the milking parlour.
James Murphy runs a herd of commercial Holstein cows which are predominantly winter calving. James aims to make maximum use of grazed grass and good quality silage. This year James's grazing season began in early March.
James uses a plate meter regularly to monitor grass supply on the grazing area. He contributes to GrassCheck which collates grass growth measurements on six Northern Ireland farms and provides information to help farmers make better grass management decisions.
Philip Clarke has one of the few totally spring calving herds in the area and provided a contrasting system for the audience. Compact calving is the key to this grass based system where cows are at grass for about nine months each year.
A lot of focus is placed on herd fertility and heat detection in order to achieve and maintain a compact calving pattern.
Philip aims to minimise the cost of milk production by relying on grass to provide the majority of his cows feed requirements.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 12 May 11