Kevin McGrade from Dromore, Co. Tyrone, hosted a summer farm walk for members of Fermanagh Grassland Club.
Kevin and his wife, Joanne, with their son, Mark, farm around 75 hectares, managing a herd of over 120 cows which are autumn calving Holstein Friesians.
The use of grass is a top priority for Kevin and measures growth on a regular basis. He has a focus of getting grass into the diet in the autumn and spring.
There has been a heavy investment in the grazing infrastructure with the installation of roadways, paddocks and water supplies. This has enabled him to increase the number of days his cows are at grass.
With cubicle accommodation for 140 cows, to cope with a projected herd increase, Kevin installed a new 20-unit milking parlour in 2014.
Kevin’s herd performance in 2015 indicated a replacement rate of 25 per cent, and a calving interval of 387 days. Yield per cow was 6461 litres with the average protein of 3.53 and average fat of 4.61. Total meal fed per cow amounted to 1,344kgs.
He runs a stocking rate of 2.15 cows per hectare.
He has improved silage D-value rising from 64 in 2013 to 66 in 2015.
Issues for Kevin include soil type, rainfall, the grazing infrastructure, soil fertility, grass species and cow type with a plan to raise soil fertility, carry out some drainage followed by reseeding as well as renewing fencing.
The majority of the farm, 77 per cent, has a soil PH 6.2 with a further nine per cent of 5.9-6.2 while 14 per cent of the farm has a pH of 5.5 to 5.9.
Soil fertility is an issue which Kevin wishes to deal with as 24 per cent of farm has an optimal level for PH, phosphorous and potassium.
In 2015, Kevin grew 9.3 tonnes of grass per hectare and increasing the amount of grass grown on the farm has been identified as one of the key areas to increase efficiency over the coming year.
Kevin is one of the farmers in the Dairylink Ireland programme.