For six years, Biotal SC rumen specific live yeast has been an integral part of the system at Henllys Farm, Borth near Aberystwyth where the 290 all year round calving cows are averaging 9000 litres with a pregnancy rate of 24% and a 390 day calving interval.
Gerald Watkins who runs the farm with his brother Simon comments:
“We feed yeast to improve rumen health and rumen efficiency, I am sure not feeding anything in the parlour helps reduce acidosis risk, but the yeast also plays a key role in maintaining a stable pH for better digestion.”
Improving fertility has been a big objective and while cows will graze during the summer, they are only turned out once confirmed in calf.
“Fertility has a big impact on profitability, so we minimise changes until cows are in calf. We use RMS on both the cows and heifers and have seen the calving interval tighten.”
Consistency of management is also applied to the diet. The cows are fed a TMR once a day and which is pushed up four times a day. A high yielder ration worth M+30 litres and a low yield diet worth M+20 are fed with consistent ingredients used across both diets. There is no parlour feeding. Both diets comprise grass silage, fermented wholecrop, fodder beet, a blend, bread waste, fat, minerals and Biotal SC toxisorb. Forage intakes are 11.5kgDM/cow/day on the high diet and 12kgDM on the low yielder ration. The grazing buffer feed, fed at night, is also based on the same ingredients. In previous years they have fed crimped maize, but the economics favoured bread as a source of starch this year.
“Fodder beet is great for milk quality which is important as we are on a constituent based contract. We are currently averaging 4.0% fat and 3.4% protein, we have grown our own in the past but now buy it in, and pre-chop it before including in the diet.”
“Wholecrop works well here. It gives a good lead into a reseed and is more consistent than maize which we grew in the past. Being high dry matter it is a way of making full use of our clamp capacity and reduces transport costs.”
“We grow around 60 acres of spring wheat, but will be increasing to 80 acres as we have rented more ground so we have plenty to feed all year round.”
Attention to detail is key when silage making, with the objective of high quality forage (see table). All silages are ensiled using Biotal crop and condition specific inoculants. All clamps have side sheets which overlap on top of the clamp, and are topped with a proven oxygen barrier, the previous year’s plastic sheet and finally a new plastic sheet. Waste is minimal. To achieve high forage intake it is essential to optimise rumen function and digestion of fibre, so Gerald adds 25g/cow/day of Biotal SC toxisorb to the TMR.
Biotal Regional Business Manager, Gareth Jones explains:
“Live yeast plays a vital role in the rumen, It scavenges oxygen and creates the conditions in the rumen that favour specific fibre degrading micro-organisms. By increasing the activity of bacteria that utilise lactic acid while reducing the activity of bacteria that produce lactic acid it helps minimise falls in rumen pH.”
“Gerald uses Biotal SC toxisorb because he wants to reduce the potential risk of problems caused by mycotoxins. In addition to the rumen specific live yeast, toxisorb contains MOS and β-glucans from yeast cell walls which have the capacity to fix undesirable substances such as certain toxins and pathogens in the digestive tract. They also support rumen function.”
“With two silages clamps open at any one time plus a clamp of bread waste, the additional cost of Biotal SC toxisorb over a straight rumen specific live yeast is seen as a sound investment to ensure cows perform to their potential.”