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Pallaskenry Herd gets YMCP Boost

Pallaskenry Herd gets YMCP Boost

Even the briefest of conversations with Mervyn Kearney, the herdsman at Pallaskenry College, will confirm that he is passionate about dairy cows and as visitors to the college farm will quickly find out, this enthusiasm is reflected in every aspect of the daily management procedures followed with the 230 pedigree Holstein cows that are currently being milked. It won’t come as a surprise to learn, then, that the herd’s ‘Copsewood’ prefix is well known to both pedigree and commercial black and white breeders the length and breadth of the British Isles.

“We have shown with a fair degree of success in the past,” Mervyn confirmed.

“But for me the real buzz is that of breeding good cows that will produce high volumes of quality milk and which will stay around for a long number of lactations.”

The herd is currently averaging 9,500 litres at 3.78% fat and 3.28% protein from 2.3 tonnes of concentrate. The cows are split into autumn ( 30%) and spring calving (70%)  groups.”

“It’s important to have calves on the ground for the students,” Mervyn explained.

“But we also have a liquid milk contract to fill. There is a 110 acre grazing block for the cows and we have an annual quota allocation of 1.6 million litres.”

A total mixed ration (TMR),made up of grass silage, forage maize, brewer’s grains, straw, a specifically formulated blend and water is on offer to the cows throughout the year.

“Normally, the ration accounts for about a third of dry mater intakes during the grazing season,” Mervyn further explained.

“However, this year that figure has risen to about two thirds, so poor have been the grazing conditions throughout the spring and summer months.”

Mervyn places particular emphasis on managing dry cows properly and ensuring they get the best possible start to their subsequent lactation. For example, he ensures that the cows receive all the trace minerals and vitamins they require. But even taking this approach still didn’t prevent the odd case of Milk Fever arising in the days directly after calving.

In response to this Mervyn is now offering Fresh Cow YMCP™ to all the cows at the college, immediately after calving. It is made available by mixing the contents of a 500g sachet into 19 litres of warm drinking water.

Manufactured by Co-Operative Animal Health, YMCP contains long acting sources of calcium plus magnesium, the B vitamin niacin, potassium and yeast.

Frankie Carroll, from Co-Operative Animal Health, recently called in with Mervyn at the college.

“Repeated trials have confirmed that offering cows YMCP will lead to a 4.3% reduction in retained placentas and 400 litres per head increase in milk output in high producing herds,” Frankie commented.

“What’s more, YMCP cows will reach peak milk sooner and at higher levels.”

But what can be done if a cow refuses to drink directly after calving?

“We ran into this problem earlier in the year,” Mervyn Kearney admitted.

“What we do now is split the contents of the sachet: one half is dissolved in water and the other is poured on the newborn calf’s back. The cow may not take her drink but she will always lick her calf.

Mervyn concluded:

“We started using YMCP earlier this year and it has helped to significantly reduce the levels of Milk Fever that arose within the herd.”