FlowMag Fertility & T.E. Delivers Results on Cork Dairy Farm
Grass tetany is a more than significant threat on every Irish dairy farm at this time of the year. But throw in the added challenge of farming in a high molybdenum area and one quickly gets a feeling for the absolute necessity to come up with a plan which ensures that every dairy cow gets its required mineral and trace element intake on a daily basis.
Such is the challenge facing David and Ann Moore, who milk a herd of 160 spring calving cows near Midleton in Co Cork.
“You can also add into the mix that we do not feed concentrates at all to the cows after calving,” Ann further explained.
“But we do fully recognise the need to ensure that the mineral and trace element requirement of the fresh calvers is an absolute priority, as part of our overall herd management plan.”
Calving got underway this year on February 25th.
“All the cows will be calved within nine weeks,” David further explained.
“So ensuring that the fertility levels within the herd are at optimal levels post calving is crucial. We are currently milking a mix of Friesian, Jersey and Kiwi cross cows. The goal for the business is to produce as much high quality milk from grazed grass as possible.
“Our breeding programme reflects this need. We milk once a day. Last year butterfats averaged 4.65%. The equivalent figure for protein was 3.9%. Despite the bad weather of 2012 the cows milked until December. Overall, we achieved a level of performance that gave us a great deal of satisfaction. But there is absolutely no room for complacency.
“The mature cows weigh in the region of 50 kilos. Replacement heifers are reared to calve down at 24 months.”
In the past David and Ann spread calcined magnesite on a daily basis to counter the threat of grass tetany during the early spring and autumn months. They will readily admit that it was a ‘mind numbing and time consuming’ task.
“Blood copper levels are checked on a regular basis, as molybdenum acts as an antagonist to copper uptake,” Ann further explained.
“And again this posed a very real challenge in the past when the risk of a copper deficiency was identified as high.”
But all of this was changed for the better when their local CAHL representative, Ned Barden, made them aware of an innovative and labour saving way to meet the mineral and trace element requirements of their stock – at all times.
Ned, a recent visitor to the Moore farm, took up the story.
“The FlowMag range comprises a selection of concentrated liquid mineral and trace element products, which can be introduced into a farm’s water system courtesy of a Dosatron pump.
“All of the products contain soluble magnesium, helping to prevent the onset of staggers in addition to a full complement of essential trace elements. In Ann and David’s case they opted for the ‘FlowMag Fertility & TE’ formulation.
“This ensures that the freshly calved cows receive both the magnesium and the various trace elements they require to optimise the general health and fertility of their herd.”
The Dosatron pump is located close to the farm yard and can be easily recalibrated in order to vary the levels of minerals received by the cows.
“We haven’t looked back since the system was installed six years ago,” Ann stated.
“Courtesy of the pump, the minerals are available at all times only in the drinking troughs out in the paddocks. Obviously we do not want the FlowMag getting into the water used in the milking parlour or in the farm house.”
David also pointed out that blood samples are still taken from the cows on a regular basis in order to check for any indications of a copper deficiency challenge.
“If the bloods highlight a potential problem it is simply a case of altering the concentration of FlowMag getting into the water supply accordingly,” he commented.
Ann Moore concluded:
“The installation of the Dosatron pump and the use of the ‘FlowMag Fertility & TE’ has dramatically reduced the work load on the farm at a time when there are so many other important jobs to be carried out, including calving 160 cows.
“But the system also gives us the reassurance that the cows are getting all of the minerals and trace elements they need in the run up to and during the breeding season. Last year, we achieved an 82% conception rate across the herd in just six weeks, using AI only. I think most dairy farmers would find this to be a very satisfactory level of performance.”