July 2021 Monthly Management

Changing Milking Liners; Doubling The Efficiency of The Nitrogen You Spread; Building Grass for Autumn Grazing; Grass & Grazing

22 July 2021

Changing Milking Liners

The milk liner is the only part of the milking machine that comes in direct contact with the cow, so their condition is critical for mastitis control and an efficient milking process. Over time liners lose tension, absorb fat and hold bacteria. Rubber naturally deteriorates over time anyway, and this deterioration is enhanced with exposure to the cleaning products used for machine disinfection. This deterioration is sufficient to reduce the speed and completeness of milking while increasing teat end damage and the spread of mastitis bacteria. The interior of the liner can also become rough, making it more difficult to clean and disinfect allowing it to harbour bacteria, increasing the potential of mastitis and cross-contamination between cows.

milk liners

The industry recommendation is to change liners after 2,000 milkings or 6 months, whichever comes first.
Herds that have increased in size, with parlour size staying the same, sometimes forget that each cluster is milking more cows now than it might have a few years ago meaning that liners may need to be changed every 3 or 4 months.

To work out exactly when you should change your liners, simply complete the following calculation.

milk liner change calculation

Although changing liners can be expensive it will more than pay for itself in the long run if it means your cows are going to be milked fully and the incidences of mastitis are less.

Doubling The Efficiency of The Nitrogen You Spread

Soil fertility is the key to getting the maximum from the Nitrogen (N) we apply. Recent work at Teagasc Johnstown Castle recorded the efficiency of N utilisation by grass swards across 446 paddocks on 23 dairy farms over two years. The common trend found was that the paddocks with low lime, Phosphorus (P) and Potash (K) only recovered 35% of the N applied (Fig. 1 below). In paddocks with optimal lime status this increased to 51% and even further to 65% on the paddocks which had optimal lime, P and K. This highlights that having the correct soil fertility can almost double the efficiency of the N you apply. This cannot be ignored in the current environment where we must get the best out of every unit of N we spread.

Recent trials as also found that correcting soil pH can release up to 60 units N/acre from soil organic matter.

Take action over the summer to improve your soil fertility by-:

  1. Review your soil sample results & apply lime to cut or grazed paddocks
  2. Apply P&K to paddocks cut for bales/ 2nd cut silage to replace offtakes
nitrogen recovery

Article provided by William Burchill, Teagasc

Building Grass for Autumn Grazing

The focus of Autumn grassland management is to increase the number of days at grass at the back end of the year while also setting the farm up for next spring.

While winter may seem a long-time away, action will be required in the coming weeks to increase the amount of grass on the farm in the long term.

Generally, the rotation length should be extended from early August. From this period on, the focus is to gradually build pre-grazing covers and rotation length while growth rates are still strong.

Farm grass cover targets vary depending on stocking rate and soil type. Heavier type soils may not be able to carry heavy pre-grazing covers late September/October.

Points to consider over the next number of weeks to help in increasing the rotation length include:

  • Keep applying Nitrogen to capitalise on August growth rates and to build grass (include some P & K if allowable.
  • Increase supplementary feeding – concentrate and good quality silage bales if growth is below target.
  • Make all land available for grazing to extend the rotation.
  • Remove surplus livestock from the platform to reduce demand.
  • Continue to graze down to 4-4.5cm to stimulate growth and to avoid carrying over dead material into next spring.
  • Use the Pasture Base grass budget to help you build grass and generate an Autumn Rotation Plan for you own farm.

If growth rates are good: any paddocks over 2,500 Kg Dm/Ha are difficult to utilise and should be removed as surplus. This should be carried out no later than the end of August. Paddocks that are baled after this will not have enough time to regrow and have a meaningful contribution the final round of grazing.

When peak grass covers are achieved by mid-September, the focus must shift to stretching out the grass supply until housing. Maintaining grass in the cows’ diet will have a positive effect on milk yield and composition. The Autumn Rotation Planner is a key tool at this stage.

Grass & Grazing

This month’s feature farm is Gerard McCarthy, Touraheen, Drimoleague

Date 15/07/2021
Average farm cover (AFC) 50kg/DM/Ha
Cover/ LU 197 KG/DM
Growth 60 KG/DM
Demand 58 KG/DM
Stocking Rate 3.3 LU/Ha
Rotation 19 days
Yield (litres/cow) 23.5 litres
Butterfat% 3.83%
Protein % 3.38%
Kgs Milk Solids / cow 1.75
Supplement fed (kg/cow) 2-3kg

The average farm cover is 650kgDM/Ha, which has seen a big improvement in the last 10 days. Grass quality ahead of the cows is very good now as much of the grazing block was pre-mowed in the last round. During the dry period of weather in June, grass quality was very variable, and the best way to ensure adequate utilisation and improve grass quality in the next round of grazing was to pre-mow.

Breeding – We are 10 weeks into the breeding season and will finish up in two weeks’ time. Heifers were scanned recently with 97% of the group calving in 6 weeks following a successful synchronisation programme.

Silage – With the difficult weather the first cut came in heavier and later than planned on the 7th of June. Ground was very slow to recover after the heavy crop and is only starting to take off in the last 7-10 days. Second cut is approximately 3 weeks away.

Fertiliser – The next round will consist of following the cows with a bag of CAN + Sulphur. The plan will be to go with 1.5 bags of 18-6-12 in the following round.