An outstanding dairy herd just outside Fintona, Co. Tyrone was the third and final venue for the Thompsons Feeds Workshops, which brought international speakers to their farmer audiences.

The farm – run by Dessie and Jonathan Moore, of Corryglass Holsteins, Corryglass Road, Fintona – features a herd of around 400 pedigree Holsteins, milked three times daily, with calf rearing to the fore for replacements.

Jonathan Moore describes the aim of his breeding policy to produce functional Holstein cows that will last several lactations with strong capacity and an ability to produce high volumes of quality milk.

More than 150 farmers turned up at the workshop, the biggest attendance of the three days of workshops, which also included venues in Coleraine and Crumlin.

Groups of four visited four different locations on the Moore farm, where speakers addressed issues such as feed efficiency, fertility, hoof and herd health and calf and heifer rearing.

The workshops were delivered by Thompsons Feeds Tech Team alongside their mineral partner, Zinpro.

The Moore farm comprises 410 cows with a rolling average of 11,500 litres of milk sold per year, with a butterfat content of 3.96 per cent, protein of 3.27 per cent, SCC of 140 and a calving index of 398.

Dessie Moore, introducing the farm profile to the visiting farmers, said his parents purchased the farm in the 1950s and started with four Shorthorn cows and other farm enterprises.

Dessie expanded the dairy herd over the years until he was joined by his son, Jonathan.

The farm gradually evolved to where it is today, with 500 acres, with son-in-law Timothy in charge of the machinery side of the business where they spread their slurry and harvest silage.

There is a team of full-time and part-time staff to help with the milking.

At one of the stops, Richard Moore, Ruminant Technical and Marketing Manager and James Black, Ruminant Nutritionist, as part of the Thompsons Technical Team, outlined what farmers have to do for feed efficiency in their herds, examining the drivers of feed efficiency such as forage digestibility, rumen health, ration balance and nutrient partitioning.

They also spoke on silage digestibility and its relationship with feed efficiency and tried to answer the multi-cut question with analysis for three-cut V four-cut silage, and three-cut V 5-cut silage systems.

They also said there was a sweet spot for forage chop length.

Dr. Dan Humphries, a visiting speaker, through the use of dissection and videos, shone a light on the problems in achieving a better fertility profile for the herd.

Zinpro’s Dr. Huw McConochie was on hand at the cattle crush, delivering his message of catching problems early with feet.

He highlighted the need to manage dermatitis from an early age, again reinforcing the benefits of taking care of problems in young stock right through to the milking portion of the herd.

During his talks he demonstrated how to repair hoof damage with one of the cows in a hoof crush, assisted by Jonathan Moore.

Video cameras focused on the hoof and beamed this on a big screen for farmers to see where overgrown hooves or infections, etc., can create problems in hooves, highlighting that toe length was important.

The final speaker was Dr. Alex Bach from the Spanish University of Catalan, who had some direct advice on rearing calves and dairy heifers to ensure they milked to their maximum later in life.

This ranged from colostrum through to strong views on post-weaning feeding.

He said farmers should think about the number of days before a heifer was going to calve rather than months so that the focus would be on building up bodyweight.

The lower the bodyweight of heifers at mating resulted in lower yields of milk during lactation.

In terms of calf rearing, Dr. Bach suggested colostrum should be fed to calves in smaller doses more frequently.

He also considered offering finely-chopped forage (2cms length) before weaning to help the calf's digestive system fully develop.